On the 16th January, Tropical Cyclone Dando caused a torrent of rain to come down over Sabi Sabi and the surrounding Kruger areas. In a matter of 72 hours the rain gauges showed that we had received 520mm of rain and the rivers showed just how much rain had come down. The water rose slowly but as the intense rain continued and the ground became saturated there was nowhere else for the water to go except to the rivers.
Just so that we are all on the same page, I thought I would give you a quick lesson in what a Tropical Cyclone is. For those that live in the Northern Hemisphere you would be more at home calling it a Hurricane and in the Southern Hemisphere we call it a Tropical Cyclone. A Tropical Cyclone is an extreme low-pressure system caused in the warm oceans around the world where the evaporation of these warm water systems and then the condensation of the water vapour cause increased energy which drive these systems.
As the water vapour moves up and condenses, clouds form creating huge amounts of rain which can measure up to 3000mm (118in) in total. Wind speed as the storm moves along can exceed 119 km/h and in the Southern Hemisphere these systems rotate in a clockwise direction whereas in the Northern Hemisphere they would rotate anti-clockwise. According to the Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory the energy released by a tropical cyclone would be equivalent to 70 times the world energy consumption of humans and 200 times the worldwide electrical generation capacity, or if we would to take it one step further it would equate to a 10-megaton nuclear bomb exploding every 20 minutes.
South Africa in general is guarded from these massive storms by Madagascar but there are occasions, like the one we just had, where the storm moves down the Mozambican channel and then slams into Mozambique with the edges of the storm causing significant rains and winds all the way through the Kruger National Park which includes Sabi Sabi.
As a result of the storm, the Msutlu River broke its banks and in the case of Little Bush Camp, the river flooded some of the suites. Our swimming pool was merged with the river and a few of the pool lounges and chairs saved themselves from a long journey to Mozambique by diving into the pool! The river changed course and cut away into the riverbank bringing the edge of the river dangerously close to the lodge.
The rain finally stopped on the 20th January and the clean-up was initiated. All the staff got ready to do some major cleaning and rehabilitation. Tractors were mobilised to start fixing the extensive damage to the roads and at Little Bush Camp we got busy with building a massive gabion to prevent any further damage to the river bank.
The suites that were flooded have been re-carpeted and the furniture that was damaged is on order. With guests arriving back at the lodge on Tuesday, 24th January the whole team has only had a few days to get everything back into tip top shape for the new arrivals. Through an amazing team effort it looks like we will have everything back in order to blow guests away with our amazing safari experience.