The Namibian Kalahari Desert is the largest continuous stretch of sand in the world with up to 30 meters high, sometimes hundreds of kilometers long, red sand dunes. It is crisscrossed with trees, rivers and fossil watercourses. Once a year, fairly regular rainfall allow a habitat for and the presence of numerous wild animals, birds, reptiles and amphibians, plants and insects. In the southern part of camel thorn, red ebony and other Acacia species are the main vegetation. Farther north, where the climate is more humid, savannah prevails.
But the real charm of the Kalahari is the uncanny silence and solitude of the sparsely grassed plains and open spaces. The population numbers are small and the few people live widely scattered. Sheep farming, limited agriculture with ostriches and other agricultural enterprises dominate the fluctuating labor market. Today, many of these companies are working together with the tourism industry. This brings additional income and job security for employees and vacancies for the unemployed in this region. Farm tours, game drives, walks, guided walks with Bushmen and cultural facilities on farms have made the Kalahari region a popular destination, especially for self-drive tourists .
The Kalahari extends to a large extent on the eastern part of the Hardap region. Mariental is the capital of the Hardap Region. It ’s name originated from the area’s first colonial settler, Herman Brandt, who named it Marie’s Valley, after his wife. As this area of Namibia receives very little rain, traditional farming techniques are being abandoned and farming is moving towards game farming. Mariental is also the centre of Namibia's ostrich farming industry as these birds cope well with the arid conditions.
With its vast surface area of 25 sq. km the Hardap Dam is a most impressive sight in the surrounding arid landscape and widely separated towns of southern Namibia. It is a paradise for water sport enthusiasts, and boathouses on the shore of the dam can be rented for added convenience. Fishing in these waters is exceptionally good and angling competitions are a regular feature. With many inlets and small islands this man-made lake provides a safe breeding place for a large variety of birds, including goliath herons, reed cormorants, flamingos, fish eagles and ospreys.
At the lake's western bank lies a small nature and game reserve of 20000 hectares. Here, one can go for scenic walks or drives. The resort supports many different species of antelope like springbok, oryx and kudu, as well as ostriches, mountain zebras and black rhinos. At the eastern bank lies a state-owned rest camp with chalets, a restaurant, a swimming pool and campground.
The little town of Gibeon is the settlement area of the Witbooi-Oorlam. One of their leaders was the legendary Hendrik Witbooi, who fought against German colonial rule and was killed in action in 1905. He is depicted on Namibia’s banknotes. The town became world famous for its meteorite shower. Some of the pieces, an iron-nickel mix, can be seen in museums all over the world.
Kalahari Namibia Map