Mysterious home of the big snake

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Near Cornellskop, you will find the Wondergat (Mystery Hole), known by the Nama as Heitsi Eibib, meaning ‘spirit’ or ‘emptiness’. It is a limestone sinkhole (pothole) celebrated in the mythology of the local inhabitants. A deep shaft leading straight down into the earth, some 4.5m in diameter, and almost perfectly circular. The vertical part is about 20m deep, and the tunnel then goes much further at an angle. Many connect the Wondergat to the ‘Big Snake’ and so it has inspired many stories and attracted intrepid explorers.

Some say the Big Snake can transform itself into a young maiden who lures men to the river to drown them, while the San believed the snake can kill with its breath alone. Through history, many who had spent significant time on or near the river had a story like this to tell. In the 19th century, the renowned prospector Fred Cornell had so much bother with a large snake like creature scaring his pack mules, that he attmpted to destroy it with dynamite. Apparently unsuccesfull, he threw several sticks of dynamite into a gulley where it had disappeared mid river.

Stories? One wonders!!


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