This reserve, 15km northwest of Mariental, is a 25,000-hectare wildlife park with 80km of gravel roads and a 15km hiking loop. Hardap is Nama for ‘nipple’; it was named after the conical hills topped by dolerite knobs that dot the area. The highlights here are fishing and birdwatching around the lake. There are several picnic sites east of the lake, and between sunrise and sunset you can walk anywhere in the reserve. Note that swimming isn’t permitted in the dam.
Most travellers come for the blue lake, which breaks up the arid plateau landscape and provides anglers with carp, barbel, mudfish and blue karpers. The lake also supports countless species of water birds, including flamingos, fish eagles, pelicans, spoonbills and Goliath herons.