Home Geography

The rocks of Nieu-Bethesda are part of the Karoo Supergroup. These were formed in the Permian Period, between 285 million and 180 million years ago when the continents were merged in a supercontinent called Pangea. The Karoo was then a vast inland basin. Dwyka tillites (a type of rock) are evidence that the area was once glaciated. Later, the basin became the site of inland deltas, seas, lakes and swamps accompanied by a great deal volcanic activity.

The layers of shales and the sandstones of the Karoo Supergroup were formed when mud, sand and clay was washed into the basin. These strata have been a boon to paleontologists who have found fossil remains of ancient reptiles and amphibians in the rocks. Fossils of these animals and ancient plants were found in the rocks around Nieu Bethesda.

During the Permian Period, the present day Nieu-Bethesda area was covered by huge meandering rivers. The floodplains teemed with prehistoric animals that prospered in the wet forest. These were the mammal ancestors, called therapsids. When these animals died, their bodies were covered with mud and which preserved the remains as fossils.

Therapsids of Nieu Bethesda

Gorgonopsians were formidable predators also called ‘terrible eyes’. They had dagger-like canine teeth like those of sabre-tooth cats. Rubidgea, a tiger-sized animal and the largest gorgonopsian roamed the floodplains. Gorgonopsians preyed on the herbivorous dicynodonts (two dogteeth), which had beaks like tortoises and defended themselves with a pair of tusks like those of a warthog.  

ulacephalodon and Dicynodon were two large dicynodonts that wandered in herds around the Nieu-Bethesda area 253 million years ago.

The pareiasaurs were another group of plant eaters that grew to the size of a cow. These animals may have been relatives of the tortoises and turtles. Ferns and horsetails, which were common at the time, may still be found in damp spots today. The forests were dominated by Glossopteris trees whose fossilised leaves formed the coal which is mined in South Africa today.

Source: Eastern Cape Tourism


Nieu Bethesda is part of the semi-arid Great Karoo climactic region. It has long hot summers and moderate winters. In South Africa, the summer and winter months are opposite to those in the Northern Hemisphere. Summers in Nieu Bethesda run between October and April.


Information on temperatures comes from the closest weather station at Graaff-Reinet, only 50km away. Average midday temperatures range from 17.4°C in June to 30.4°C in January. Summers are hot and dry, but the weather is bearable. July is the coldest month with temperatures dropping to an average of 2.5°C at night.


Most of the 255mm of rain per year falls in the autumn months from March to June. The lowest rainfall received is 6mm in July. The highest is 50mm in March.


Nieu-Bethesda is at the foot of the Sneeuberge along the banks of the Sundays River. The village falls into the Cacadu District of the Eastern Cape and is approximately 50 kilometres (31 mi) from Graaff-Reinet. Nieu Bethesda is also part of the Great Karoo, a plateau that covers much of the Eastern, Western and Northern Cape provinces.

Nieu Bethesda - Eastern Cape - South Africa

Nieu Bethesda is at an altitude of 1350m, above sea level.

GPS Co-ordinates

31.867° S
24.5554° E


Don't forget

Nieu Bethesda has no petrol, bank or credit card facilities. Fill up your tank and your wallet before you arrive!

Common misspellings of Nieu Bethesda

In 1878, when the town was first formed, the name nu Bethesda was misspelt as "Nieu Bethesda". "New Bethesda" is also popular. Other creative misspellings include: New, Nu, Nieuw, Niew, Bethesda, Betesda, Bathesda, Batesda, Bethesta, Betesta, Bathesta and Batesta.

Need accommodation?

Contact us.

Martin Street, Nieu Bethesda
Calls us on 049 841 1642

Click to view availability and book online.

Afrikaans (South Africa)English (United Kingdom)

Facebook Nieu Bethesda

Nieu Bethesda weather

Sunrise : 28.11.2015 05:09   Sunset : 28.11.2015 19:1005:09
Waning Gibbous Moon
Saturday 28.11.2015
27°C Clear sky from south
2.6 m/s
0 mm
Clear sky, 2.6 m/s, South, Light breeze. 0 mm. 1015.9 hPa
Clear sky27°C
from south
Clear sky25°C
from south
Clear sky16°C
from northwest
Weather from yr.no


BnB Sure