Dean Swart has spent the last year walking the coastlines of South Africa towards Mozambique to raise awareness for coastal conservation.
South Africa – Dean Swart set off on a year-long journey in January 2018, to track the health of South African coastlines. To do the walk, which would amount to over 2700km, Dean underwent intensive survival training, wilderness first aid, rescue and navigation courses.
When talking to Dean in 2017, he hoped his journey would raise awareness and encourage people to take care of the coastlines.
“My main aim is to gather environmental data on the general health of the coast. I plan on achieving this through the collection of plastic pellet samples, photographing the wildlife and recording the levels of plastic pollution.
Above all I wish to raise awareness about our coastal environment and the impact we as humans have on it. I also wish to highlight the plight of our marine animals like sharks and rays.
My other goal is just to share and enjoy the vast expanses of exquisite coastline we are so privileged to have.”
Aside from walking the South African coastlines, Dean was also meant to do the Mozambican coastline but sadly had to pull out due to a ruptured appendix. With recovery time and additional planning needed, Dean has had to push the second half of his walk to early next year.
He shared his experience with us, speaking of the people he met and the schools he got to speak at. His goal was to educate and he did a great job at it.
“I have spent over a year walking the beaches of South Africa. In that time I have seen some of the most spectacular scenery, sunsets that made time stand still and met thousands of amazing people from all walks of life. People from all races, religions and social backgrounds. I was given a hundred rand by a waitress in Alexander bay on my first day. It probably took two days for her to earn that in tips, yet she felt inspired to contribute.
I have been offered accommodation by strangers living in shacks, rich people in holiday homes. I have shared food with homeless people and sat for a chat with abalone poachers. I have shared a campfire with diamond smugglers. I had a pastor drive over a hundred kilometres to give me a meal. Countless people have opened their homes and shared their lives with me. Times without number people have made small donations or bought my meal, often I have not even been able to say thank you for they have overheard my story and quietly paid on their way out. Fishermen who have offered me a beer or a cold orange juice while we swap stories, restaurant owners who have sponsored me whatever I wanted off their menu. Lodge owners who have opened their doors at no cost.
Along the way I have stopped and spoken at about thirty schools, trying to educate and encourage the next generation about conservation. I have always been received exceptionally well and at short notice from the most basic rural schools to classy private schools. often they have gone the extra mile to fit me in. In 3000 km, through some of the riskiest most unsafe beaches, I have not had any credible threats or muggings (granted I have been careful). Nor have I been subjected to any form of racial prejudice.
Nearly everyone I have met has been kind, generous and willing to help. Of the thousands of people I have met, I have only met six people who were truly unpleasant individuals. I challenge any other country to offer better hospitality. South Africa and its people can hold there heads high. The truly amazing thing is that all this hospitality has been willingly and freely given.”
You can follow the rest of Dean’s journey via his 500 Sunsets page.