Kgalagadi turns into paradise after rain. The Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park (KTP) is not known for raging rivers, big pools of water or green lawns, but the landscape transformed completely after good rainfall early in the year. In January 2016, the Auob River started flowing for the first time in over 15 years…
“As far as my knowledge goes, the Auob River last flowed in 2000,” says KTP tourism manager Ben van Eeden. It is not an everyday occurrence and usually during times of high rainfall, water would only accumulate in sections, but not flow, he says.
It could be as a result of precipitation across the border. The river’s catchment area is in Namibia so a lot of rain might have fallen there. The Auob enters the park at Mata Mata Rest Camp and from there, flows in a south-easterly direction towards the Nossob River. The two meet at Samevloeiing just north of Twee Rivieren.
One of the park’s regular visitors, Basil Dardagan, witnessed the river come down and says that they have never seen anything like it before. “To literally see dust become water and sand become river was the most incredible thing imaginable.” He says that they went for a drive in a northerly direction up the Auob riverbed when, somewhere between the Gemsbokpelin and Batulama waterholes, they noticed the water. Upon closer inspection, they came to the shocking realisation that it was actually flowing. Time was against them, but they were able to follow the flowing river for about 11km before returning to camp. Dardagan says that he has seen a lot during his 35 years of visiting protected areas, but witnessing the rebirth of this ancient river will undoubtedly remain the greatest sighting of his life.
Van Eeden says that the park’s average rainfall in the south-east (Twee Rivieren) is around 200mm while the north-east (Nossob) gets an average of 350mm per year. With the good rainfall recorded in January, Urikaruus received as much as 123mm. Areas such as Grootkolk and Kamqua recorded 113mm and 100mm respectively.
The Kgalagadi needed the rain as much as other parts of the country as it has been very dry since March 2015. Most of the park’s rain falls between November and March. Just a few days after the rain, the landscape started transforming. The desert sprouted lush green carpets and lilies added dashes of colour to the red sandy landscape.
Written by René de Klerk – SANParks Times Reporter
Pictures: Steve Dover, Basil Dardagan
Content courtesy of SANParks Times: www.sanparkstimes.co.za