Port Elizabeth to Nieu Bethesda

Nieu Bethesda

Nieu Bethesda

From the minute you leave Port Elizabeth to the moment you arrive in the dusty Karoo village of Nieu Bethesda, this journey is all about a farmstall food safari, a trip back into the Victorian-era frontier days, trout fishing and zebra spotting in the mountains, and the search for Harry Potter’s resting place.


A polar explorer and a Boer general lie buried in the Cradock cemetery.

Please take note its 304 Km – Distance from Port Elizabeth to Nieu-Bethesda.

The Port Elizabeth to Nieu Bethesda route is about 380 km and could be done in a morning or an afternoon, but offers a world of choices and experiences that make dwelling a little longer worthwhile.

The drive will take us through classic Eastern Cape settler country into the vast landscapes of the Karoo Heartland, where we’ll meet the locals, who are nothing if not friendly and welcoming.

We leave Port Elizabeth early in the morning and head out initially on the N2, but divert onto the N10 Cradock road after Nanaga Farm Stall. Keep a lookout for the mighty meaty pies at Nanaga – they’re a full meal by themselves.

Carefully negotiating the Olifantskop Pass, we drop down into the fertile Karoo biome called the Smaldeel (Afrikaans for ‘narrow part’). Soon we find our first farmstall stop of the day: Oom Theuns se Winkel (Uncle Theuns’s Shop). Soft drinks all around?

Presently, we reach Middleton and look, there’s another farm stall. This one sports lots of crafts made by residents and is hard to miss because they painted the shop a jolly red colour.

At Cookhouse, we detour off the N10 to Somerset East, where we lunch at Hobson’s Choice Deli and check in at the Angler & Antelope. After the meal and some down time, Alan Hobson takes us off for a sundowner at a local dam and perhaps a quick fly-casting lesson.

Somerset East is a great little Eastern Cape town, with a deep history and museums to match. The next day we do a quick tour of the Walter Battiss Museum – this is, after all, where the famous South African artist who created ‘Fook Island’ grew up.

Now we’re back on the N10 and, about 50 km south of Cradock, we stop for lunch at the Daggaboer Farm Stall. This prize-winning roadside establishment contains a rich hoard of crafts, foods and local books. We sit on the porch, drink some really good coffee and have a quick chat with Isabel or Charl Pansegrouw, the shop’s owners.

By the early afternoon we’ve checked in at Die Tuishuise in Cradock, a series of Victorian-era cottages in Market Street, and are on our way to the Mountain Zebra National Park. This is one of South Africa’s most scenic national parks, and once you’re up there on the Rooiplaat Plateau you’ll know why. This is where, in the winter months of June and July in particular, you can often photograph springbok, black wildebeest and mountain zebra in a landscape surrounded by snow-capped peaks.

We dine at the old-style Victoria Manor, and it is classic Karoo fare. Leave space for the malva pudding, a rich South African specialty. A quick nightcap in the hotel bar and we’re off to bed.

In the morning, we venture out for a good long walk to look at the Karoo architecture of Cradock and to track down a grave with the name ‘Harry Potter’ in the cemetery, and then we cross the Wapadsberg (‘wagon-road’) mountains to Nieu Bethesda.

Passing a colony of blue cranes, we turn left onto the N9 and then right again onto the tar road leading into this fascinating little village in the mountains. And only once we’re strolling around the famous Owl House do we catch our breath and let the sensations of the past two days flow over us…

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Gerald Crawford

I was born in Johannersburg South Africa. I live in Stellenbosch and love my country. - Paid my dues at the The University of Life - If you have any questions or comments please e-mail me. My E-mail Address is gerald@12234455.co.za.

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2 Responses

  1. Splash Guest House is situated 400 m from the idyllic Port Elizabeth swimming beaches in the upmarket Brighton Drive in Summerstrand. We are within close walking distance to shops, restaurants and conference centres. We are also a three minute drive to the fabulous Boardwalk shopping and casino complex. Splash is a eight minute drive to the famous Humewood Golf Links and a ten minute drive to the Nelson Mandela University.

    Our lovely bed and breakfast is ideal for tourists, holiday makers and business people. You will find excellent service, quality well appointed rooms and beautiful pool and garden surrounds, with secure parking behind a remote gate.

  2. The Accommodation at Ganora Guest Farm offers 3 star accommodation with various options and is highly recommended by the AA. Groups of up to 26 persons can be accommodated in B&B rooms. Please visit our accommodation pages for more details.

    Since it is located just 7 km outside Nieu-Bethesda, Ganora’s accommodation is ideal for visitors to the town and the region.

    The original farmstead and outbuildings, dating back to the mid 1700’s, have been converted into guest accommodation. The stone packed “kraal” wall that once surrounded the farmyard, today forms part of some of the guest cottage interiors, allowing visitors the rare pleasure of interacting with the past.

    Farm owners Jan-Peet and Hester are involved in a game rehabilitation program. The result is that orphaned game often make the farm yard their home, allowing visitors the opportunity to make close contact.

    The farm museum has an extensive fossil collection, including rare examples found nowhere else in the country. Jan-Peet’s knowledge of Karroo fossils, together with his enthusiasm for the subject make his talks and fossil veld tours hugely popular with young and old. Jan-Peet also works closely with researchers from Wits, Rhodes and NMMU universities.

    The farm also boasts various sites with well-preserved rock paintings and engravings. This is Hester’s area of expertise. Her enthusiasm for the subject is affectionate, and visitors can look forward to an entertaining and informative talk on the subject, bringing to life 10 000 years of Bushman folklore. Even the Anglo-Boer War features in Ganoras past.

    Meal times at Ganora are of special importance. This is down time, and visitors can look forward to traditional Karoo cooking, good company, much laughter and stories about the day’s events. Regular fare on offer includes Karoo lamb, kudu and other game dishes, bobotie with spiced rice, organically grown vegetable dishes, koeksisters and melktert (milk tart).

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