diversity, medicinal plants
The Kamiesberg region is right in the heart of springtime
flower paradise. More significantly, it forms the point of
convergence of a number of important biomes. Paulshoek and
surrounds have been the focus of nearly a decade's study by
botanists of the University of Cape Town, in conjunction with
a number of international botanical societies. The broader
region is now recognized as global botanical hotspot.
The namaqua people, of course, have known
of the important plants for much longer. Some of the local
experts are known widely for their facility with natural medicine
- a cure for every malady from the rocky outcrops around their
around the campfire - stories of the Paljas
They say that, to walk without harm in the Kamiesberg at night,
you'd better have "a small pebble in your mouth and a
twig in your shoe". The
area is central to the namaqua Nama culture, rich with myth
In many of the towns here, the old
people can still be happily coaxed to tell stories of "the
Paljas" (Nama magic) around the campfire. Specially arranged
cultural evenings offer a rare glimpse of their rapidly vanishing
way of life.
The Studers Pass, from Garies up towards Paulshoek and Leliefontein,
winds leisurely through magnificent mountain scenery. In winter
a waterfall tumbles over a large opening by the road side,
and from various vantage points on the way one can catch glimpses
of the sea some 70km away. At Leliefontein you can see the
Koingnaas lights on the coast on moonless nights.
Rooifontein, at 1700m the highest
peak in Namaqualand, can be reached from Kamieskroon via Baileys
Pass. From here the road winds back down again through Kamasies
and Gamoep to the flat, grassy plains of the Bushmanland and
on to Springbok.
While there are designated 4x4 and
mountain biking routes in the area, the gravel passes mentioned
above can safely be driven with a normal passenger car, as
long as one plans to travel at a leisurely pace. This is a
great way to get lay of the Namaqualand.