Monday, March 07, 2016

Lake Ngami

On the shore of Lake Ngami.
This morning we got up early and headed south to Lake Ngami. This is a lake that depends on water from the Okavango, and especially flood years, to have water in it. Rumor has it that there are lots of birds at times. So we loaded up the car with all out food and toys and went to see for ourselves.

There were settlements and cattle stations all around. The folks above were hauling some sort of brush in a donkey cart for reasons that were not at all obvious. Perhaps just clearing land.

To get to the lake, we took the A3 south towards Ghanzi. We did not go nearly that far. The lake is close to a village called Sehithwa. We saw signs spelling it "Sehitwa" and "Sehihtwa" in addition to the Google maps supplied spelling given first. Not really sure what it is called or exactly how to pronounce it.

At any rate, not far before you get to this adjustably named place, is a sign that points to the lake down a dirt track. Not really a road, just a track through the bush. Similar to what is seen in the Moremi Game Reserve. In the US, there would be signs to tell you where to go, what you could and couldn't do while there, a paved road, a parking lot, an observation deck, binoculars that give five minutes viewing for a quarter, and flush toilets. Here there is a nearly unmarked track dense with thorn bushes on either side. At the end is simply a muddy shoreline filled with trees. We had to ask directions twice to find it and then when we tried to leave, got lost without knowing it and a kind gentleman showed us how to get back to the road. Adventureland!

Of course there were flies galore. There were also these curious dragonfly-type critters flying about just above the ground. The image is blurred since the camera focused on the ground not the insect.

But, sure enough, there is a lake there. And we saw a few birds. Clearly not the season for thousands of flamingos or other flocking birds, but it was an interesting and strange place. Near the water were nothing but dead trees giving the place a very eerie feel.

Just to amplify the odd-ness of the place for you, I've converted on of the images to B&W. 

On the way from the tarred road to the lake, we passed through a section with, oddly enough, dead cattle in it.

All that is left is skin and bones. We asked the fellow who gave us directions on the way out how this happened. Communication was not easy since whatever language he speaks, we don't, and his English was not great. But the gist of it seems to be that the cows starved. I presume that when the lake receded, the cows wandered out in the mud flat and found nothing to eat, perhaps got stuck, and died.

As we tried to find our way to the right track to take us to the lake, we found a small community that all lived in tents. The woman above, brightly dressed with her distinctive headdress on, appeared to be listening to the radio outside her tent. There was also an elementary school here, all in tents as well.

David Livingstone visited the lake in 1849. Since then it has shrunk considerably. Nevertheless, people have continued to live here and thrive.