Among the many new friends Dave has been making on his journey to Victoria Falls is Sister Mary Thoma Prado, originally from the Philippines, but now stationed at the Catholic Mission Station in Okongo. Photo supplied.

Dave a quarter of the way on epic trek to save the rhinos

Date: 01 February 2019 By: Andries van Zyl

Viewed: 514

“These boots are made for walking and that's just what they'll do…” These words from Nancy Sinatra’s 1966 hit song by the same name might as well be adventurer Dave van Graan’s motto in life.

Dave’s boots are currently kicking up dust on Namibia’s northern border with Angola, where he is attempting to walk all the way from Ruacana to Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe, a distance of about 1 600km.

No, he is not mad.

This Louis Trichardt resident has struggled with a very painful back injury for many years. In 2013, Dave received specialist treatment and, for the first time in many, many years, Dave could enjoy a pain-free life.

To celebrate a pain-free life, Dave took to walking long distances. In 2014, the now 62-year-old undertook his first challenge by walking from Musina to Louis Trichardt. He then upsized his next challenge by walking from Louis Trichardt to Church Square in Pretoria, and then he finished it off by walking all the way to Cape Town. This was during 2014 en 2015. At the end of November 2017, he embarked on his next epic venture, walking all the way from the Orange River to the Kunene River on the Angolan border over a distance of 1 870km.

Celebrating a pain-free life is not the only reason why Dave walks. He also does it to create awareness regarding the conservation of southern Africa’s rhino population. This is an issue very dear to Dave’s heart. This time around he is creating awareness around the extraordinary work African Anti-Poaching Services (AAPS) is doing.

Dave’s epic journey over the hot, dry, dusty plains of northern Namibia started on 15 January when he set of from the town of Ruacana. The Zoutpansberger caught up with Dave on Wednesday morning via WhatsApp.

By that time, Dave had already completed just over 420km or one quarter of his trek to Victoria Falls. He overnighted at Mpungu and by 09:40 had already completed 11km en route to Karitwe, his next overnight stop, at the invitation of the Catholic Mission Station.

Being on the road is a uniquely fulfilling experience for Dave. “It is unbelievable! It offers you a freedom that you do not experience in normal life,” said Dave.

Since starting his walk 15 days ago, Dave said he had experienced little to no drama. He has especially high regard for the people of Namibia for their friendliness. “Even the truckers have now started stopping to find out why I am walking and offering me something to drink. So yes, the message is getting out about anti-poaching,” said Dave. He added that he was especially touched when a farm worker donated R20 to the anti-poaching cause. “I took a video of this and will later talk about making a donation on my Facebook page,” said Dave.

Being on the road for so long does, however, become lonely. “I miss my people, but I also miss Boerekos a lot. Rice, stew, with sweet pumpkin and Boer beans! My mouth is watering as I am typing this message to you,” said Dave. The weather has also been a bit cooler the last couple of days. “Two days ago, I survived a massive wind- and rainstorm. Luckily, my little orange tent held up and everything kept dry,” said Dave.

Dave will not be travelling through Botswana. He will go via Rundu to Katima Mulilo, crossing into Zambia at Shesheke. “I will then travel through to Livingstone and Victoria Falls,” said Dave. “My next expedition will be from Victoria Falls to Beit Bridge, but this I’ll put off until the end of the year, waiting for the situation in Zimbabwe to become better,” said Dave.   

People wishing to support Dave and the AAPS can phone Dave’s wife Jacqui at 082 829 5421 for banking details. They can also visit his Facebook page, Dave van Graan, to follow his journey, or track him live by going to his tracking link at (This article was written in English for the benefit of Dave’s many, many overseas friends who are following his progress)





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Andries van Zyl

Andries joined the Zoutpansberger and Limpopo Mirror in April 1993 as a darkroom assistant. Within a couple of months he moved over to the production side of the newspaper and eventually doubled as a reporter. In 1995 he left the newspaper group and travelled overseas for a couple of months. In 1996, Andries rejoined the Zoutpansberger as a reporter. In August 2002, he was appointed as News Editor of the Zoutpansberger, a position he holds until today.



More photos... 

“I always start early to benefit from the cooler temperature. My day starts at 04:30. I will have coffee and rusks, pack up camp and walk for three hours or 15km. Then I will have breakfast before doing another two-hour walk. The rest of the day I will walk and rest because it becomes very hot,” said Dave. Photo supplied.

After a massive rainstorm on Monday evening, Dave said that the normally hot, dry and dusty plains of northern Namibia had, almost overnight, turned into a sea of green. He took this picture of a herd of goats that came to say “Hi” in search of some grass. Photo supplied.