Visible in the lower part of this image, in northern Namibia, is the Etosha Pan. Once a lake, the pan gradually dried up through evaporation 2 to 10 million years ago when climatic changes and topographic movements caused the Kunene river to change its course, and to flow into the Atlantic Ocean. Now, the Etosha Pan is a stark, seemingly endless depression of pale greenish-white clay, silt and mineral salts, all baking under the fierce sun. Visible to the north, in Angola, are what appear to be two plumes of smoke from fires.
In living history, the Etosha Pan has never been filled with water, although in years of good rainfall, several tributaries of the Kunene river, such as the Oshigambo and the Ekuma in northwest and the Omuramba Ovambo in the east, drain into it, causing partial flooding and attracting thousands of flamingoes and other wading birds. The water, though, can be as much as two times saltier than sea water is, and therefore generally unfit for animal consumption.