Garies, Namaqualand

To describe Garies as in the middle of nowhere does not do any damage to the reputation of the town (for those who stay here, particularly during the spring flower revolution, will come anyway). The average person after a Namaqualand 'dorp' experience would be forgiven for driving straight through Garies, it appears so unremarkable.

But for all that Garies has some serious pulling power: It is right on the N7 and thus easily serves as a journey breather or 'not-quite-halfway' mark for those on the road between Cape Town and Namibia. It lies in the heart of the Namaqualand and makes an excellent base for those exploring the spring flowers. And rumour has it that Hannie Louw's Tamatie Blatjang (tomato chutney) is worth stopping for alone.

The sheer lavishness of blossoms during spring, after good rains, draw visitors to this part of the Namaqualand from around the world. The Namaqualand Flower Trail Run, a 20km loop on the Roodebergkloof Trail starts just north of Garies, with a rather tough 12km ascent to the summit of the Rooiberg.

If you can, head a little further north on your exploration of the Northern Cape to the Succulent Karoo Knowledge Centre in the town of Kamieskroon. Garies and Kamieskroon lie in the heart of an arid biodiversity hotspot - the succulent Karoo. Over 40% of what you find out here, you will see nowhere else on Earth, and 20% of the succulents are found only in Kamieskroon.

Include Letterklip (alphabet stone), something of a stone fortress used during the South African War. And look out for traditional Nama 'matjiehuise' or domed grass huts, round structures of the Nama people who led a nomadic existence in the hot, dry Northern Cape. Today they are made with more modern materials and include hesian bags, and bit of plastic.

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