Anthony Ham
Australia AU
Apr 5, 2014 April 5, 2014

Anthony is a photographer and writer for travel magazines and Lonely Planet, including the guides to Kenya and Botswana & Namibia.

Category: Travel Disaster Worth Sharing

Heading out into the Kalahari with ample fuel reserves is basic common sense, but what happens when things don’t work quite as they should?

When I left behind the paved road and headed out into the Kalahari, I made sure that I filled the both the main fuel tank and the reserve. When the latter headed towards empty, I flicked a switch and kept on driving. The pump that transferred the fuel from the reserve tank didn’t sound quite right but it seemed to be working. But then it sputtered and stopped.

Normally I embrace the African silence, but this one sent a shudder through my body. Here I was, in lion country and some 50km from the nearest human being, 100km from the nearest petrol station, and desperately low on fuel. After an anxious night listening to lions roar as I calculated and recalculated my fuel reserves, I began the journey with the belief that I had enough fuel for 110km on good roads – but these were the deep sand tracks of the Kalahari. I made it to the petrol station (which mercifully had fuel) with the equivalent of 1km with of fuel to spare.