Quintessentially Afrikaans – that’s Garies and a place name like Kardoesie.
Decades ago Garies was simply one long street with a church, houses and a shop or two, three with a smattering of houses on the other side as well. The town was built in 1845 along the bank of a stream called Garies, or Th’aries, hence the guttural-sounding name. The land where the town of Garies was built was given to the Dutch Reformed Church by the owner of a farm called Goedeverwagting (it means ‘good expectations’).
The town is at the foot of the Kamiesberg (mountain) and the valley is hemmed in by rugged rocks and mountains.
Garies is nearly halfway on the road from Cape Town to Namibia. Some might say this means it’s, sort of, in the middle of nowhere.
Garies might be in a semi-desert area but in the second half of the year the flowers that can be seen are breathtakingly beautiful. Don’t be surprised at numerous foreign accents that you hear wherever you walk over this period of time as people from all over the world flock here for this unusual and rewarding experience.
The Skilpad Wild Flower Reserve is just northwest of Garies and forms part of the Namaqua National Park. Look out for daisies – actually they are impossible to miss in flower season – and tortoises (singular skilpad, plural skilpaaie) on the dirt road of roughly five kilometres that circles the reserve.
Sophia Guest House has wonderfully decorated rooms with plant names such as Olive Tree, Lavender, Rosemary, Koljander (Coriander) and Vinkel (Fennel) but there’s also an Old Bar section with three separate rooms.
Winter days are still warm, wintry nights can be freezing, and in summer it becomes very, very hot.
Time to head back to Cape Town? Stop at Piketberg, Citrusdal, Clanwilliam, Wupperthal, Vanrhynsdorp and Nieuwoudtville!