New: We've just partnered with LMG to offer you a national gig guide. Check it out!

Walking the Daisies 2017: Pilgrimage Of The Eco-Revelers

A uniquely cultivated experience for the environmentally-orientated festival-goer.

10 Oct 2017 / Opinion / written by Skye Mallac

“Walkers, are you ready to do this?” It’s 8am on Wednesday morning and we’re huddled in a parking lot in Kreefte Baai. Inspite of the apparently imminent summer, we’re cold and windswept. Table Mountain is silhouetted in the background and we’re itching to get moving. We are clustered around the small bank of team leaders as they brief the 100 people who have chosen to walk to the Western Cape’s biggest music festival.

When it initially began in 2008, pioneered by Greg Nicolson and Nathan Heller, Walking the Daisies comprised of only a handful of eco-warriors who chose to tackle the 60km stretch between Cape Town and the festival on foot. The initiative was essentially the brainchild of Nicolson who, after walking almost 700km from Namibia to Cape Town, studying the endangered flora of the west coast region, put forward the idea to the festival in order to lend to their sustainable backbone. The two then grew the project through their personal initiative Culturetalent, until the 2013 festival when the campaign was handed over to Sustainable Brothers & Sisters.

This year SBS Connect and UNITlogic chose to take a small step back from their long term goals in order to grow the campaign. They cut the attendance down to 100, honed in on quality sponsors and plan to move forward organically from here as the years progress. Being independent of Rocking the Daisies itself, the walk incorporates a number of ethically inclined sponsors to make the event happen. The main sponsor on the walk this year is First Choice Dairy, whose representatives also joined the walk.

This morning we’re sporting little branded backpacks stuffed with sponsored freebies, and have been divided into groups. The first leg of the walk comprises of a roughly 15km hike along the west coast, throughout which we pick the beach clean of rubbish – no small feat, in fact, once your bag has accumulated 10 kilograms of sandy waste and you’re hauling it the final few kilometers.

After a well-earned lunch, courtesy of UCook and an insightful talk about Khoisan culture in Duynefontein, we hop on a bus to bypass the Koeberg Power Station and are deposited on the West Coast road where we walk a further 10km through picturesque dunes, and along sandy paths to Silverstroom Campsite which is to be our home for the night. We’re greeted with high fives and a cold bottle of Brew Kombucha upon arrival. The sun is setting, the full moon is rising and a lively selection of bands are sound-checking in preparation for the evening’s festivities.

I find myself huddled around the fire for the first live act, The Thirty Eights, who form a part of the multi-faceted gem which is the Cape Town Psych Night movement. Primarily melody-driven, what the band lack in vocal constituents they more than make up for in electric energy. Nic Preen and his latest music endeavour, The World of Birds, power through an equally energized set. Theirs is a sound which encompasses the bouncy nuances of Al Bairre while navigating a perhaps earthier path. A healthy dose of Al Bairre originals are thrown in for old time’s sake, while fresh originals form the bulk of the set. Alternative techno grooves, courtesy of Bakai, bring the night to a close.

It’s day two and we reltuctantly emerge from our sleeping bags at the crack of dawn. One Wazoogle Superfood smoothie later however, and we’re ready to hit the road. This time it’s a roadside trek to Mamre.

On arrival we are separated into groups and sent our respective ways. I have joined the planting team. The rest of the crew break off to partake in workshops, talks, sports and a Dine in Mamre experience – in which walkers are invited into a community member’s home for a shared meal and conversation.

“So it’s not necessarily just about the impact of the food garden but more about the community connection,” explains Thomas Chevallier of SBS Connect, as we head back with grubby hands from the community garden.

Taken as a whole, Sustainable Brother & Sisters Connect aims to unite big brands with sustainability. The walk focuses on both the ecological side of the initiative: restoring the wilderness in line with the environmental pillar upon which the greening efforts of both the walk and Rocking the Daisies itself balances, as well as a dominant social upliftment aspect. The latter is the project they have dubbed the Mamre Connect. The primary goal is to connect the people and is aiming to embrace diversity in the most organic way – and it’s a treat to be involved in.

The last leg of the walk is an inclined trek up the large hill which separates Mamre from Rocking the Daisies. Sporting battle wounds from fence jumping, blisters, bruises and wide grins we reach the top of the hill to see the colourful festival grounds unfurl below and a collective cheer goes up.

This is an initiative which not only grants those who partake the opportunity to cut back on their carbon footprint when attending Rocking the Daisies, but also sows the seed of environmentalism in the minds of a handful of festival-goers, which has nowhere to go but grow.

Less talk, more action. We walked here!

Follow Skye on Twitter.