Breakdown in the Kalahari


Mosodi shut the hood of the truck. “It’s the gearbox.”

Earlier that morning, we had departed New Xade for another round of filming in Metsiamanong in the Central Kalahari Game Reserve. Shortly after passing the border gate into the reserve, the engine of our truck started making a loud clacking noise.

Now, it wouldn’t even start.

“How far to Molapo?” I asked.

“Around 45 kilometers.”

Molapo was the nearest San settlement in the CKGR. Cell service doesn’t extend into the reserve so calling someone wasn’t an option. We could either wait on the rarely used road in the hope that help would arrive or we could seek it out in Molapo.

Trips into the reserve are expensive and difficult to organize, and I felt pressure to be as productive as possible during my two-week visit. The idea of burning days waiting for something to happen rubbed me the wrong way.

I grabbed my raincoat and water bottle and shamelessly pulled a line straight out of the Fellowship of the Ring:

“I’ll go, though I do not know the way.”

Kitsiso jumped out of the back of the truck and decided to join me. I ran the numbers in my head. If we walked three miles every hour, we had nine hours of walking ahead of us.

And so we departed on our epic journey across the Kalahari plains. In the back of my mind, the Blood Diamond “hike” theme song played on repeat.

A raincloud in the Central Kalahari Game Reserve.

We saw all kinds of wildlife. Antelope – gemsbok and steenbok – paused their grazing and looked at us curiously as we passed. Small squirrels emerged from their burrows only to retreat back into them. A fox darted in and out of the long grasses. We even saw a giant green mamba slither across a tree branch. —> Read More