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It was like a scene from The Living Dead. My own zombie apocalypse. As I parked my Nissan Navara outside the Spar in Carnarvon, to stock up on padkos, drunks lying on the ground nearby lurched to their feet and surrounded the vehicle. Faces pressed against every window, while hands banged on the glass demanding not flesh, but cash. Some of the crowd climbed on the rear wheels, to see what was under the canopy. Discretion triumphed over hunger. I drove away. Padkos would have to wait. I was halfway into a road trip through the Karoo, on my way from Johannesburg to Cape Town. Most drivers travelling between the two cities make the 14-hour dash along the N1, over one or two days. It’s a gruelling marathon with only the final destination in mind. To the west of this tar strip, however, lies one of SA’s most spectacular but underexplored regions. Mountain ranges, forests and tourist traps may be in short supply but the vast openness and clear skies have their own appeal. My trip effectiv...

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