Page:Lake Ngami.djvu/432

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been validated.

ingly expending their resources and energies to solve the grand problem.

The cause of all these failures was chiefly to be found in the desert and inhospitable regions which lie between the explorers and the supposed lake, commonly known as the Kalahari desert. Toward the close of 1849, however, and when the hope of our being able to overcome this apparently insurmountable barrier was almost extinguished, the great object was accomplished by the persevering exertions of Messrs. Oswell, Livingstone, and Murray, and the existence was made known of a fine fresh-water lake in the centre of South Africa.

This important and highly interesting discovery at once opened a new and extensive field for the inquiries of the geographer and the naturalist, and gave a fresh impulse to the enterprising and speculating spirit of the colonists of Southern Africa. The lake was described as a magnificent sheet of water, abounding in fish and hippopotami, and the country around as well stocked with elephants and other large game, while the vegetation was said to be on the most luxuriant scale. The discovery excited very considerable interest.

The Lake goes with the natives by different names—all of which are more or less appropriate—such as Inghàbé (the giraffe); Noka ea Botlètle (lake of the Botletle); Noka ea Mokoròn (lake of boats); and Ngami, or The Waters. As the last designation is the one by which the Lake is best known to Europeans, I will retain it throughout the remainder of this narrative.

As before said, on taking a nearer survey of the Lake, I experienced some disappointment as to its attractions. It is, however, indisputably a fine sheet of water, but in size is somewhat overrated, the estimation of its length alone being at one time considered no less than one hundred miles, and the width about fifteen or sixteen. The misconception may