passion and purpose
“I go on expeditions because it makes me feel alive. I take care of the planet because it’s what makes me feel alive.”
Nacho Dean is a naturalist, a professional explorer and a popularizer. He is the first person in history to have walked around the world and to have swum the 5 continents (there have been more people on the moon). But beyond the feat, what is truly important is the purpose for which he undertakes his expeditions, and that is the conservation of the planet.
- From 2013 to 2016 he walked around the world, an adventure that took him to 4 continents, 31 countries and 33,000 kilometers on foot alone, without assistance and uninterruptedly to document climate change.
- Between 2018 and 2019 he completed the Nemo Expedition, a challenge that has led him to swim across 5 continents to launch a message of ocean conservation.
I was born on August 20, 1980 in Malaga. I owe my passion for nature and adventure to my parents who, from a very young age, took me to the mountains, camping and swimming in the sea.
I am a son of a seaman, my father has travelled all over the world, and that is one of the reasons why we have lived in many different places. I remember that in my house there were African masks and spears, cutlery from Thailand, trays from Egypt, wood carvings from Angola. I grew up reading books by Jules Verne, Alexander Dumas, Jack London, Rudyard Kipling. Watching the TV programs El hombre y la Tierra by Félix Rodríguez de la Fuente, La ruta Quetzal by Miguel de la Quadra-Salcedo and Al filo de lo imposible by Sebastián Álvaro, dreaming of being like one of them, even of having one day my own TV program.
I remember when I was five years old, I was swimming in the Cantabrian Sea shivering from the cold without wanting to go out. Finishing watching a Hercules film and being so impressed with the adventures of this hero of Roman mythology that I told my mother – Mother, if you want you can call me Hercules – or in winter, when I was twelve, studying in my room with the window open and without a T-shirt. Or being in the mountains, having one path up and another down, and always choosing the one that went up, as if preparing myself for something that I knew would come one day. All these things were building character, signs of what was to come. The seed was planted.
This kid is growing up, we keep changing our city and residence every few years, and that gives you some tools to be detached, and adapt to environments and circumstances that are constantly changing. I realize that where I like to be most is outdoors, in the mountains. For me, Nature is freedom, health, beauty, fantasy, honesty, wisdom, balance, refuge… it is my truth amidst all this noise. And that seed, that feeling of love for the planet germinates and grows until it blooms a few years later in all its splendour.
However, at the age of 21, as a consequence of so much change and a deep disagreement with the world in which we live, I suffer a deep existential crisis. I look around me and I do not understand anything, the destruction of the planet, the wars, the injustices, the corruption, everything hurts me. I lose my way, my place in the world. And I make one of the most difficult decisions at that time, I leave my parents’ house, I need to look at life face to face, without intermediaries, to know what I want. A time of change begins, of search, of transformation.
During these years I study Advertising and Public Relations at the university and a training cycle of Environment. I work different jobs to pay for my studies, I have many relationships, I travel to many countries, I practice sports like climbing and snowboarding, and I do an infinite number of routes on foot like the Trans-Pyrenees, different variants of the Way of Saint James, I am above the Arctic Circle in Lapland, in the Sahara desert. These are years of self-knowledge, of discovery, of seeing that there are many other ways of living. I lead a comfortable, safe life, full of travel and accumulating experiences, but without a defined direction. And I feel that life has to be something more. I continue searching, like the chrysalis in the process of transformation before the butterfly is born.
Until one day, when I was walking in the mountains, I felt so good in contact with nature, reaching the places by my own feet, that I said: Hey, and the round-the-world walk, why not? Instead of just a few days or a few weeks on the road and coming home, why not dream big? I didn’t want just a piece of the pie, I wanted the whole pie, an ADVENTURE with a capital letter. As a lover of nature and a person sensitive to the degradation of the planet, I could not remain impassive, sitting on my hands, doing nothing. I would dedicate this expedition to the defense of the environment.
In 2019, the challenge in which he has been immersed for the last two years has concluded, this time in the sea: The Nemo Expedition, a challenge with which he has united the 5 continents by swimming to launch a message of ocean conservation, and which has led him to swim in the most impressive seas and straits of the planet.
I do not put my life at stake ridiculously, I live passionately and death is a risk inherent to life. I take my life to the limit to show the beauty of the world in which we live, to explore the thresholds of human beings, to preach values by example, to motivate, inspire and demonstrate that life is beautiful and worth caring for.