Canberra adventurer to walk for weeks in African desert to fight poverty


Walking thousands of kilometres alone in the desert, with nothing but a soccer ball and an iPod, is not something many people would ever consider doing.

But for Canberra adventurer Matt Napier the physical challenge is addictive and a way to raise money and awareness for global poverty.

"It is pretty tough. I always think the first 300 or 400 kilometres are the toughest, if we can get through that it starts to get a little easier," he said.


Next month Mr Napier will set off on his fourth gruelling adventure — a 1,800km trek through desert and sand dunes in Namibia.

"We are going through the Namib desert, some people call it the toughest desert in the world," he said.

"The locals call it 'the gates to hell' or 'the land god created in anger' so we have got our work cut out for us."

'Crazy, insane and pretty inspiring'


The trek is Mr Napier's second African adventure on foot. Last year he travelled more than 2,000 kilometres living on just $2 a day.

"I lost 15 kilos in those two months and eight kilos in the first 11 days, it was just really hard living on basic food," he said.

But Mr Napier is no stranger to endurance challenges. He has completed some on home soil, walking and cycling across Australia.


Always in his support crew is wife Wendy, who is not entirely sure what to think of her husband's feats.

"I alternate between crazy, insane and pretty inspiring," she said.

"I just don't know how he gets up every day, day after day and does it, but he is determined."

On this trip she will be his only company. She will drive the support vehicle, update their progress on social media and offer some support on the walk for a few hours each day.

"I try to walk with him as much as possible to break the boredom," Mrs Napier said.

"I think sometimes he wishes that I wouldn't because I probably talk more than he would like me to."


When Mrs Napier is in the car, Mr Napier keeps himself busy by bouncing and kicking a ball.

"It just gives me something to do on the way," he said.

The pair will also carry a few hundred soccer balls that they will hand out to children they meet along the way.

"I think sport really breaks down the barriers between people, we can't speak their language, but we can all speak the language of sport," Mr Napier said.

Another walk to fight poverty already in the works


Mr and Mrs Napier said what kept them embarking on these gruelling adventures was the ambition to make a difference in the world.

"It was only the luck of the draw that I was born in Australia and not in Ethiopia or another country," Mrs Napier said.

"I feel it is my moral obligation to do what I can and this is just the way we have chosen to make a difference in the world."

The couple are currently working with charity partners to fund two projects this year — one to provide fresh drinking water in Zimbabwe, the other providing better food security in Malawi.

And even before this upcoming challenge has started, another is already on the cards.

"We are looking at 2018, we are looking at doing the world's longest triathlon," Mr Napier said.

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