by Cynthia Taylor
Nieu Bethesda and Owl House are one of my favourite places to visit and I have some truly wonderful memories, indeed three visits were not really enough, although the town is very small with a small population it has a way of drawing you back time after time.
The town is completely isolated and well off the beaten track you will have to drive approximately 60 km from another interesting town called Graaff Reinet, Nieu Bethesda has only two roads leading in and out of it. The town itself was established way back in 1875. What has put it on the map is Helen Martins Owl House. This place is incredible; I was truly fascinated with not only the marvellous art work but the whole history surrounding the creation of the art. Her medium was concrete and glass and she created some really intriguing figurines. As you walk through the house it is ‘littered’ with her fascinating art. The multi-hued panes of glass and wonderful bright coloured paints really capture the eye.
Nieu Bethesda is truly still untouched by modern life, visitors are reminded to make sure they have enough petrol to get there and out again, you will not be able to use your bank card as there are no facilities for them and over usage of cell (mobile) phones are discouraged.
Helen Martins grew up in this very strict Calvinistic village, she herself became quite a controversial figure, she had love affairs that really went against the thinking of the day, it is also said she had an abortion which was definitely considered extremely unconventional in her day. As time went on she became more of a recluse in her home, using her art to express herself.
With the help of various assistants, she worked together with them to create and most extraordinary testament to her fertile imagination, the most well known assistant was Koos Malgas. The walls of the house have been encrusted with ground glass with mirrors strategically placed to capture the light; she also used candles and lanterns to encourage more light onto the mirrors creating different effects.
The yard is another revelation, is has been sectioned off to different aspects with her concrete and glass sculptures.
The camel yard itself is a testament to the East, with wise men and camels facing Mecca in permanent worship. Many of the sculptures are unusual, maybe strange but very compelling; indeed I found them extremely fascinating. Every visit I discovered something I missed the previous time, it truly is a most amazing place to visit.
Even in death Helen Martins at the age of 79 was unconventional, she committed suicide by drinking caustic soda. There are many rumours about her reasons for taking her own life. But whatever reason drove her to do so in such a way it must have been an awful death. Although Helen Martins is no longer there, her legacy she has left to the world is a living testament to a mysterious and fascinating person. I truly would have liked to have known her.
Many artists use Nieu Bethseda as a retreat, it attracts crafters and creative people, the town continues in it slow pace of life, there are a few restaurants and guest houses, some art galleries and a pub. Many of the local residents continue to watch the people and the world from their front porches drinking endless cups of coffee. The town has other attractions and a walk around the town itself will give you an idea of a era long in the past of South Africa.
Visitors to Owl house will find that it is open to the public every day both summer and winter. For a very modest fee you will be hugely entertained.
Posted in Uncategorized and tagged artistic places to visit, nieu Bethesda, old world village, Owl House, South Africa by Cyntay with no comments yet.
A Magical Journey Through South Africa
by Cynthia Taylor
Travel in South Africa is a wonderfully rewarding, exciting and at times awesome. There are so many wonderful places to see and the wild life, the fauna and flora is well worth the effort.
When planning your South African Safari you need to take some things into consideration, depending on what you expect from your safari choose your seasons wisely to suit your choice of Safari, do you want lush country side then chose to visit after the rainy season, but if you want to see the wild game easily then choose the winter months to visit the game parks, Winter in South Africa is from usually from May to September and depending on where you wish to view animals, October and September are also good viewing periods in various game parks. Do research of the area you wish to visit is important.
Your choice of Safari will also depend if you wish to ‘go it alone’ or book a pre-planned safari, or you could choose a company that specializes in organizing safaris to suit your individual needs, and your budget.
Game Reserves and Private Game Parks
There are many large game reserves as well as private game parks that can enhance your experience greatly. The most well known is the Kruger National Park, this game reserve has much to offer with everything from excellent accommodation to suit all budgets and plenty of game to view on game drives, but be aware the Kruger National Park and other private game parks such as Sabi Sand and the Timbavati. The Kruger National Park is a very large park and you might have to drive for miles before seeing game. It’s advisable to make use of the expert guides that are available, they have vast storehouses of knowledge between them and they will know the best places to view game in any given season.
On an African Safari you need to be flexible, the game do not work to an itinerary, so you might be woken up early to view the sunrise, as well as wildlife viewing, followed by a large breakfast. Another good time you will be called to view game is late afternoon and finish off with a good dinner. Midday is time for relaxing, swimming, a nap after your early call and be ready for the next drive out. Or if you are energetic then take a nature walk. You must also be aware that midday is the hottest time of the day so take the necessary precautions, wear a hat, use sun screen and wear sensible clothing.
Timbavati Home of The White Lion
Other famous game parts are the umfolozi/hluhluwe game reserves, and Phinda. St Lucia, Drakensberg world heritage, all in Kwa Zulu/Natal. One of the advantages of Safari’s in South Africa are the many malaria free game lodges that offer plenty of game as well is the ‘big five’, these game parks are ideal for family safari’s. Africa has many places that are high risk malaria areas, so if you would prefer not to risk getting malaria despite all precautions then visit South Africa’s malaria free game parks. Western, Northern and Eastern Cape, Addo National Park and Shamwari, the Garden Route, North West province and parts of the Limpopo province all offer malaria free game lodges like Madikwe and Welgevonden.
Apart from Game viewing South Africa also offers wonderful subtropical beaches, incredible isolated deserts, tribal villages, bush wilderness, abundant birdlife, bushman art, excellent world class wines and visits to wine lands with tours of how wines are made to wine tasting.
Prior to planning your South African Safari, it’s a good idea to do some research; the internet has many excellent websites that offer incredible ideas on safaris to suit many people’s needs. Read some travel books and guides to give you an idea of what to expect and experience on a South African Safari.
Budgeting is important
Decide on your budget, this is important when deciding on what type of safari you would like to go on. You can find ultra luxurious safaris and some cheaper safaris that are less about luxury and more about getting the feel of Africa. Only you can determine your budget and how fit you are to understand a more rigorous safari.
Most people wish to see the big five, but don’t overlook the many other wonderful wild life that is available, South Africa has 299 different species of Mammals, abundant bird life, interesting insect life and much more, most of the game parks have expert guides who can show you the best of South Africa’s wonderful wild life.
Posted in Uncategorized, Unusual Places to Visit and tagged big five, game parks, game reserves, game reserves in South Africa, South Africa, South African Safari's South Africa Safaris, wild life / by Cyntay with no comments yet.