Nieu-Bethesda: Snowy Mountain Village

nieu bethesda

The Ramstal Bar – the place to be when the snow falls in Nieu-Bethesda.

Karoo winters can be brutal – but spectacular.

In one night of snowfall back in 2012, the slopes of the Bankberg range at the Mountain Zebra National Park become a delicate Japanese charcoal sketch.

nieu bethesda

Time for beanies, scarves and gloves…

Up in the Swaershoek Mountains that loom over the river town of Cradock, snowdrifts demand careful driving as isolated farmers make their way to market.

But the village of Nieu-Bethesda, which nestles into the appropriately named Sneeuberge (Snowy Mountains), is the Karoo’s most romantic snow destination.

nieu bethesda

The Dutch Reformed Church and the livestock sheltering nearby.

In the winter of 2012 we crunched across the Wapadsberg Pass in a Land Rover Defender and chugged into Nieu-Bethesda as the flakes began to fall.

Ian Allemann’s pub, the Karoo Lamb, became an isolated little drinking hole in Patagonia. Across the Gats River at the Two Goats Deli, André Cilliers’ geese became squawking Siberian poultry.

Down the road where the pear trees stand proud, André’s wandering goats passed a couple of lovely fixer-uppers and became, ever so briefly, part of a Macedonian winter landscape.

A couple of horses, normally galloping around Nieu-Bethesda’s dusty streets with young boys on their backs, stood outside a barn with their backs to the driving sleet and looked positively Himalayan.

Back at the ‘Lamb’ the doors had opened, the fire had been lit and the first thirsties (the Three Wise Men of Nieu-Bethesda?) of the day were seated.

 

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