Helen Martins' Owl House
Helen Martins' Owl House, often cited as South Africa's finest example of outsider art, is an extraordinary, other-worldly home of concrete and ground glass sculptures.
Life in Nieu-Bethesda potters along much as it did 130 years ago, when the village was founded. Stone water furrows still line the wide, dusty streets. Night skyscapes are unpolluted by streetlights, and the air is still fresh and clean. Compassberg watches over the village, as always, and Nieu Bethesdans still while away the hours on their stoeps, watching village life go by.
All around stretches the arid expanse of the Great Karoo, "where the land meets the sky". This is a nature-lover's paradise, a high altitude semi-desert that is home to the largest variety of succulents in the world - as well as eagles, hadehas, sacred ibises, secretary birds, blue cranes, flamingoes, otters, lizards, snakes, tortoises, bat-eared foxes, kudu, springbok, reedbuck, wildebeast, wild cats, ground squirrels and aardvarks.
In times gone by, agriculture was the driving force of Nieu-Bethesda's economy; the region's Angora goats and Karoo lamb are famous. Nowadays much of the industry is based around art. There are craft shops and galleries, potteries and sculpture gardens - most famously, the late Helen Martins' extraordinary "Owl House".
Whether your interest lies in art, bushman paintings, fossils, climbing, hiking, bird-watching, mountain-biking, horse-riding, game-viewing, star-gazing or stoep-sitting, you'll never be at a loss for things to do in Nieu Bethesda.