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The last time I visited the Tankwa Karoo National Park I was on assignment for this newspaper’s monthly magazine, researching a feature on the wonders of a digital detox — about the benefits of disappearing for a few days into SA’s remote, arid hinterland sans internet. Four years later, I’m back and panicking — we’ve just got a flat tyre and now I’m really wishing we had at least one bar of signal. A flat is no biggie in the city, but out here there’s no sign of anyone. The only buildings we’ve seen for the past half-hour are a couple of abandoned farmhouses. We’re surrounded by breeze-whipped silence and desolate plains; the lengthening shadows cast by distant mountains offer meagre consolation. We gingerly start to change the tyre. I’m furious with the driver — my partner — having warned him that Tankwa roads are notorious for shredding tyres (given my own track record, though, I don’t have a right to be angry.) Fortunately, a guardian angel pulls up in a cloud of dust 10 minu...

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