5.30am and you hear the sound of rushing water and feel like your sleeping on a waterbed. You attempt to assemble all the facts, including that it rained all the previous day, and you surmise that a flash flood is in progress. Poking your head out of the tent you sense that you am surrounded by 2 inches of water. However, you can’t see anything as it is still dark so grabbing a torch, you stumble into the shallow stream that your tent is now in the path of. The river is many meters away but the run off seems to be draining through the campsite.
What about the pax (clients)? Most of them are too scared to look outside and see what all the noise is about. A few emerge and drag their tents to drier ground. One tent is on its side with a couple of confused and bedraggled pax still inside trying to find their clothes. This is the ‘adventure’ part of a tour and this makes for a good story to tell friends at home over a glass of wine while looking at holiday photos.
Most people don’t seem to realise that December to May is the wet season in Namibia and 2006 proved to be an exceptional case.
“How can it be raining in the desert?” asked one observant pax.
The previous night I had briefed everyone to cover up against the sun and to carry 2 litres of water for our 4-hour walk in the dunes of the Namib Desert. Little did I realise that the next morning I would look like an idiot when the clouds descended and drizzle fell from the sky.
2006 was the wettest season for decades in Namibia. In fact, In Sossusvlei, 85mm of rain was recorded in one night (18th January). By the time my pax arrived, the desert had been transformed into green pastures dotted with bright yellow flowers and teeming with springbok, oryx and ostriches.
“It doesn’t look like a desert.” Commented another observant pax.
It took some persuasion to convince them that they were witnessing a unique meteorological event. Let’s face it, it’s not often that you get to paddle in a desert. The last time this was possible in the Namib was 1997, and who knows when the next time will be?