Adventurer on 6,000km walk to help save our oceans
How many of us can imagine walking all along the South African coastline, from Namibia on the west coast to Mozambique on the east coast and on to the border of Tanzania, a trip of about 6,000km, while carrying everything you need in a backpack?
That is exactly what former Zimbabwean Dean Swart, 48, is doing, and is now raising awareness of marine conservation by speaking at schools.
“When I started off I was not doing this for fame or money. It was just something I know I needed to do,” he said, as he sat at the Duck Pond in Port Alfred to be interviewed on Friday afternoon.
“But, when I saw how badly our oceans were being treated, I knew that I could add something meaningful to others if I made people aware of what we are doing to our marine ecology.”
Swart said children and grandchildren were the ones who would inherit any mess we left behind and that they had the right to demand that we do better with respect to marine conservation.
“That’s why I speak at schools, to tell the children that they should demand better of us,” said Swart.
Swart said that the building industry from which he came was not doing well and so he decided to fulfil his dream.
“I think I might be the first person to make that the last leg of a coastal walk,” he said.
Before he left, Swart took a three-month survival course to ensure he was properly prepared for the trip. “There is no clean water for some of the trip so I had to take a small reverse osmosis device to desalinate the water,” he said. He also needed good boots, expedition clothes, a light-weight sleeping bag and several other pieces of equipment for the journey, his total backpack weighing in at a mere 34kg.
“That’s still a lot of weight to carry. And I have had a number of incidents that have delayed the journey,” he confessed. “These included a bout of Red Tide Fever, mild hypothermia while in Stilbaai and a stress fracture that laid me off for two months,” said Swart.
While recuperating from the fracture he stayed with family in Cape Town.
Swart estimates his journey will take another 14 injury-free months to complete and intends to write a book on his travels that will focus on the way in which we need to heal the planet.
“The eco-pyramid is inverted in the oceans,” said Swart. “The sharks are the top predators of the oceans and we are slowly killing them off. If we lose the sharks, the whole eco-system will collapse.
Another passion of Swart is to advocate for the elimination of single-use plastics.
Travelling around South Africa Swart said he was amazed at how friendly and helpful people have been.
“I get invited to stay at guest houses or hotels along the way, or just at people’s homes. I would like to thank all the people who have helped me along the way, and particularly Port Alfred High School and the Halyards Hotel as well as the people of Port Alfred.”
Swart said that he would be in East London in the next few days and then continue onward to the Mozambican border. Swart’s journey can be followed on Facebook: 500sunsets, or his blog.
A LONG WALK: Dean Swart’s objective as he set out on his walk along the South African coastline, a journey of about 6,000km, was to meet people and observe nature. Yet, having witnessed the way in which the oceans are being abused, Swart has become a crusader for marine conservation