122 OTCHIKOTO. [CHAP. vrr.
a foot across ; and in these trees are often growing just as they would in a flower-pot : those that are open make dangerous pitfalls. The effect is very curious. Mr. Oswell tells me that by Lake Ngami he has met with the same things.
May 25th.--For the third time we left Otchikango, and travelled all day, till four p.m., passing over some; very rugged ground and dense thorns, such as no waggon could get across : it was a pass over a low chain of hills. The encampments at night were very pretty. There were fires in all directions. Everybody was in the best of spirits. The Ovampo sang their manly choruses with charming effect. We had no water, but were to reach a wonderful place, Otchikoto, on the morrow, at eleven,-which we did.
May 26th.-Without the least warning we came suddenly upon that remarkable tarn, Otchikoto. It is a deep bucket-shaped hole, exactly like Orujo, but far larger, for it is four hundred feet across : deep down below us lay a placid sheet of water which I plumbed, leaning over from the cliff above, to the enormous depth of one hundred and eighty feet, the same depth within five or six feet at four different points of its circumference. The water could be reached by a couple of broken footpaths, to the top of one of which the oxen were driven to drink out of a trough, and a line of men handed up bambooses of water from one to another to fill it. There were small fish in the water ; it is curious how they got there. I was told that fish were also to be found in the fountain-head of Otjironjuba, but I did not see them. There were infinite superstitions about Otchikoto, the chief of which was, that no living thing which ever got into it could come out again. However, John Allen, Andersson, and myself, dispelled that illusion from the savage mind, by stripping and swimming all about it, under the astonished gaze not only of the whole caravan, but also of, quantities of Buslunen who lived about the place, and who came to greet the Ovampo, with whom they are on the best of terms.
Although the Ovampo live on the borders of a great river, yet none had ever been seen swimming. It appeared that alligators were so_ numerous in its waters that the natives feared to venture in. Chik had. been extremely friendly up to the present time, but he now began to look with some suspicion upon us ; the fact of cur having swum about Otchikoto alarmed him,-it looked like magic. Again my Damaras were always teasing the others by saying that we were cleverer than Ovampo-a fact which these would not admit ; but now it was proved