It was several months into our world bike tour before we learned what is arguably the most important rule of wild camping. Had we known it, we would never have put our tent here.
At first glance, it looks like the perfect spot – flat and hidden from the road by a ridge. This second photo gives you a clue as to why this is in fact a very bad place to camp.
Have you guessed yet? Here’s your answer: it’s a dry riverbed and it’s prone to dangerous flash floods.
The rain that triggers the flood might be miles away. You might never hear a drop of rain on the tent, but a few minutes or hours later the whole river channel can fill with water and sweep you and your stuff away.
Thankfully, we were warned about this danger a few weeks after this picture was taken. We were never swept away, though we did camp next to a dry river once (up on the bank) and watched later that night as it filled with water within seconds. Recently, a Dutch touring cyclist was not so lucky. He lost his leg, and nearly his life, to a flash flood in South America.
The lesson is a simple one: don’t camp in dry river beds, no matter how tempting they seem!