This is a quote from "Hillel the Elder" from the first century. (I thought I was so original!)

Friday, August 1, 2014

Wetlands of Zambia

Lake Bangweulu proper, could be classified double or triple its size in the wet season.
I was excited to see more birds as we drove along.

Then we dropped down to sort of a flood plain from Samfya and everything got extremely flat.
The termite mounds poked up above the grass.

I hadn't expected such a vast flood plain and swamp.

In every direction there was nothing but water and grass.

I did notice something out a ways so I stopped and saw a boatman poling along.

Then it became evident that this road/causeway was a high refuge for many, many people living on the steep banks on both sides.

Then we saw there are people living everywhere on and near the water.

When they hear a truck coming they appeare out of the grass and offer to sell us fish.

This tree provided enough high ground to build a small house.
Apparently, there are islands in the lake itself and many islands in the swamp that people live on.

There are eight main islands that have villages on them and another seven that are islands only in the flood months.  Herds of lechwe (sort of a small antelope/deer) are supposed to be abundant, but we didn't see any.

It is a way of life that is far removed from anything I have experienced.

The Luapula River is the main channel that drains the Bangweulu Swamp and will eventually end up joining the Congo River.  At the point of crossing the river a remarkable bridge was built in 1983 that gave Zambians access to a large part of their country from the south.

The bridge is over three kilometers long.

I was mesmerized by the endless water and the numbers of humans who have made it their home.
I can't imagine trying to navigate on the water with very tall grass blocking your view and an ever changing pattern of channels.  I was told that there is quite a bit of smuggling that takes place between the DRC (Democratic Republic of Congo) and Zambia in these areas in the traditional dugout canoes.

It felt like we were their only hope for selling a fish, but I am certain the wholesalers come through and offer them a little, just enough to sustain life.

It was Lake Bangweulu and the swamps that David Livingstone was exploring looking for a source of the Nile river when he died.  I am hoping to find that spot to cross off of my "bucket list."