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Rural scene in Hardap  © Tscherno, License


Not quite the southernmost of the 14 Namibian regions the Hardap Region has only the Karas Region below it to the South. The region stretches from the Atlantic Ocean on its Western border to the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park on its eastern border. And even though the region is one of only two regions that span the entire width of the country, the Hardap Region is one of the most sparsely populated and is rivalled by its southern neighbour, the Karas Region. Most of its inhabitants belong to the Nama people, but there is another distinctively different indigenous population group known as the Rehoboth Basters. The Baster community are descendants of the Doorslandtrekkers who founded the Hardap Region's most northern town of Rehoboth.

Mariental is the regions capital, but it is in the surrounding areas that it finds its true tourism potential. Just outside of the capital is the Hardap Dam, which is where the region gets its name, this is also where the Fish River flows south from, through the country, joining the mighty Orange River in South Africa. One of the most remarkable points on the rivers journey is when it passes through one of Namibia's Natural Wonder's, The Fish River Canyon.

Hardap is not as popular with tourists as the coastal Erongo Region, but it does however offer a wide selection for any visitor in the form of leisure activities. The Hardap Recreational Park, which is set to reopen in December 2014 after a lengthy renovation, offers an excellent choice of activities and plenty of water-sports for visitors to enjoy, while in the west, the Naukluft Mountain Zebra Park and NamibRand Nature Reserve offer plenty of wildlife view.

The region is also described as one of Namibia's most scenically diverse and entertaining regions to travel, with two very different deserts (the Kalahari and the Namib), the majestic Naukluft and Zaris Mountains, the eastern and western escarpments, as well as many important historic sites. The region offers something to experience in every area of general and special interest - from the awe-inspiring landscapes that are home to a broad variety of wildlife and many endemic plant species, to comfortably accommodated self-drive and guided tours, to soft adventures and even roughing it in the great outdoors. The is even something for the glider flight enthusiast who will find one of the world's gliding hot spots, on the edge of the Kalahari, a short drive north-east of Mariental.

The northern half of the Hardap Region has two of the country's steepest and most demanding gravel roads that lead through the Remhoogte and Spreetshoogte Passes. On a trip that stretches for nearly 100 kilometres there are nothing but breathtaking vistas and rugged mountainous terrains that peak at over 2100 metres above sea-level. This is in stark contrast to the south of the region where the seemingly endless plains of the Pro-Namib meet a nearly 100 kilometre long, straight, vertical cliff of black rock known as Schwarzrand (meaning black edge).

The major road networks which provide access to the Kalahari in the eastern parts of the region as well as to the Maltahohe area and to the Namib Naukluft Park in the western parts of the region respectively, cross with Namibia's main north to south route in the vicinity of Hardap's capital, Mariental.

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