Karoo skies

The Karoo Heartland of the Eastern Cape is big sky country. The wide open spaces aren't just on the ground. You just need to look up anywhere in the Karoo and you will know what I'm talking about. Blue skies, dramatic skies, thunder clouds rolling in, stunning sunsets and stars at night like you've never seen in your life.

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The Stonefolk of Nieu-Bethesda

Nieu-Bethesda is famous for the Owl House and fossils you find in the area. That's not all you can see in this small Karoo Heartland village though. There's actually so much more and now it has a new addition. A couple of stone figures has made Ongeluksloot on the farm Doornberg their home and we just had to go and visit. Inspired by the landscape of Nieu-Bethesda, the stone figures in Kaokoland in Namibia as well as The Dance by…

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Van Stadens Narrow Gauge Bridge

A couple of weeks ago we walked to the Lower Van Stadens Dam and got a side view of the narrow-gauge bridge over the gorge from the northern side. The Van Stadens rail bridge is the second highest railway bridge in South Africa and the highest narrow-gauge bridge in the world. Construction on the bridge was completed in 1905 and the bridge is 156m long, 77m high and contains 1 112 cubic meters of concrete and 574 tons of steel.This…

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Water furrows in the Karoo Heartland

One of my favourite things about Nieu-Bethesda is seeing the water run through the village's water furrows. These ancient stone leivore date back to the early days of the village and supplies water to the village from a spring in the mountain above the village. Residents who have leivore running past their properties pay a minimal amount for water rights annually and channel water into their gardens using smaller gated funnels on the days when the water flows in that…

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Bini’s Tea Garden in Nieu-Bethesda

How boring is life if one never explores? How much would we miss out on if we didn't? Nieu-Bethesda may be small but there are so many things to see and places to check out. Although I've been to the village a couple of times, the Damselfly hadn't seen much of it so I loaded her in the car for a drive around on a recent visit. We drove up to the township for the view back to town and…

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Honesty shop on the stoep

Towards the bottom of Martin Street in the village of Nieu-Bethesda stands a white Karoo house with a blue sign. blue cupboard(on the stoep)honesty shop The two words in the name that caught my eye immediately were "honesty shop". It was peculiar. Interesting. Strangely Karoo Heartland. Definitely worth checking out. On the stoep we found a variety of things. On the right-hand side mostly second-hand and antique items, books and other stuff. Nice and cheap as well. On the left-hand…

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Cape Ground Squirrel

Driving on the gravel road near Nieu-Bethesda something darted across the road. "Don't hit the meerkat!" my wife shouted. "That's not a meerkat," was my response. "Don't hit the mongoose then," she said."Also not a mongoose," I answered. "It's a ground squirrel.""It does look like a squirrel," she observed. The Cape Ground Squirrel (Geosciurus inauris) is found in most of the drier parts of southern Africa. The name Cape ground squirrel is somewhat misleading as it actually has a much wider area of habitation. This…

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Giraffe spoor

While on a game drive at Samara Private Game Reserve near Graaff-Reinet in the Eastern Cape I spotted a set of tracks next to the road. Too big for an antelope and definitely not a horse or a cow as it's inside a game reserve. Possibly a buffalo? Hoofprint from a giraffe was the answer from our game ranger. A hoof is the foot of certain animals known as ungulates. These animals walk on their toes which have a hard cover made out…

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PE Opera House stained glass window

The Port Elizabeth Opera House, now called the Nelson Mandela Bay Theatre Complex, was opened in December 1892 and is the oldest-running Victorian era opera house in Africa and the southern hemisphere. Significant upgrades and additions were done in 1926, 1934, 1985 and lately in 2016. As part of the latest revamp the framed mirror on the steps in the foyer were replaced with a stunning feature stained glass window by David Manning portraying the only three Africans on the continent…

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Tracking and double tots at Samara

Rangers are like the cowboys of a game reserve with their game viewing vehicle as their steed, a cap rather than a cowboy hat and bino's at their side in the place of a revolver. But what about the dude sitting on the bonnet jump seat? Is he the Tonto to our Lone Ranger? Who is the guy with the thing in his hand that looks like a tv aerial? What is he supposed to do? Why does he get…

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