When the lake is full, the water is perfectly fresh, but brackish when low; and that coming down the Tamunak’le we found to be so clear, cold, and soft, the higher we ascended, that the idea of melting snow was suggested to our minds. We found this region, with regard to that from which we had come, to be clearly a hollow, the lowest point being Lake Kumadau; the point of the ebullition of water as shown by one of Newman’s barometric thermometers, was only between 207-1/2 deg. and 206 deg., giving an elevation of not much more than two thousand feet above the level of the sea. We had descended above two thousand feet in coming to it from Kolobeng. It is the southern and lowest part of the great river system beyond, in which large tracts of country are inundated annually by tropical rains. A little of that water, which in the countries farther north produces inundation, comes as far south as 20 deg. 20’, the latitude of the upper end of the lake, and instead of flooding the country, falls into the lake as into a reservoir. It begins to flow down the Embarrah, which divides into the Rivers Tzo and Teoughe. The Tzo divides into the Tamunak’le and Mababe; the Tamunak’le discharges itself into the Zouga, and the Teoughe into the lake. The flow begins in either March or April, and the descending waters find the channels of all these rivers dried out, except in certain pools in their beds, which have long dry spaces between them. The lake itself is very low. The Zouga is but a prolongation of the Tamunak’le, and an arm of the lake reaches up to the point where the one ends and the other begins. The last is narrow and shallow, while the Zouga is broad and deep. The narrow arm of the lake, which on the map looks like a continuation of the Zouga, has never been observed to flow either way.
Before the middle of 1852 Livingstone was ready to start on the journey which resulted in the opening of routes from Central Africa to the West and East coasts; but the way was still beset with difficulties. The missionary societies were regarded as “unpatriotic” by the authorities at the Cape; and he, as the most outspoken of critics, and the most uncompromising denouncer of the slave-trade and champion of the natives, came in for a double share of their suspicion. On the other hand, his brethren gave him only a half-hearted support and doubted his orthodoxy. He found great difficulty even in procuring ammunition. A country postmaster whom he had accused of overcharging, threatened an action at the last moment, which he compromised rather than be detained. As it was, he had anticipated his meagre salary by more than a year, and had to be content with very inferior oxen, and a wagon which required constant mending throughout the journey. On June 8, 1852, he at last got away, taking with him a Mr. Fleming, the agent of his friend Mr. Rutherford, a Cape merchant, in the hope of by degrees substituting legitimate traffic for that in slaves.