Survival at World Rangers Day

We felt very complimented to be asked by Sanparks to join their celebration of World Rangers Day by giving a survival demo to the hard working rangers. We started with a slideshow introducing the 4 survival priorities before moving on to some practical techniques for creating a quick and easy survival shelter and tips and tricks for lighting fires (with or without matches).

It was an extremely tight schedule to try and pass on the priorities and techniques of survival but the Rangers did well to take on board a lot of the course content in a short space of time.

Survival Training at Wordl Rangers Day

We do offer weekend courses which give us more opportunity to pass on these skills and for you to practise them for yourself under the guidance of our survival instructors.

Our next Basic Course is scheduled for 03 – 05 October so time is running out for you to register. We find December is too busy with too many families going away on holiday to warranty a course so this may be the last course for the year! Book now to avoid disappointment!


An introduction to food in the wild

What will you resort to eating in a survival situation?

Survival Training

That question definitely springs to mind when you hear about the Uruguayan Rugby Team who, after a plane crash in 1972 left them stranded in the Andes, resorted to cannibalism to stay alive. I recommend watching the documentary “Stranded” for a personal account or the more readily available Hollywood movie “Alive”. It is a horrific story and it clearly illustrates that hunger will push you to eat some things you would normally never dream of.

However – before you start thinking about what you will allow to pass your lips it must be noted that one of the most common mistakes in a survival situation is to worry about food first.

Food is the literally the last thing you should be worrying about.

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An introduction to Water.

Well it has been awhile since our last post – we have been super busy with instructors off to get married and honeymoon, others in the process of changing jobs (in different countries) or visiting families overseas. The good news is that we are now getting back on track and planning more courses.

Speaking of which, before we get to this Newsletter’s topic of Water, our next Basic Course is scheduled for the weekend of the 23-25 August, get your entries in quick to avoid disappointment.

So without further ado we hand over to Erez, our water expert for an introduction on the role water plays in Survival.

Anthony Rodger
Chief Instructor
Water Survival Training


The rule of thumb is that you can live for about three weeks without food, but only three days without water. Survival is often about using your common sense, logic and creativity. Finding water is no exception.

When water availability is a concern, your first priority is to conserve the water that you already have contained in your body plus any supplies that you have left. 

I have a good friend who is an ex co-pilot of an F16 fighter jet and he filled me in on his brush with dehydration that took place a few years ago whilst he was taking part in the Pharaons Rally in the Egypt Desert. He had completed survival training with his army so he knew the basic principles but when he set out on his motorcycle that morning he never knew he would have to put them to good use.

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An introduction to Fire.

Christmas and New Year have come and gone and, once again, a busy year ahead no doubt awaits us all.  Some of you will have hiking expeditions planned, others may be travelling to far flung destinations in pursuit of the unknown.  Athletes will be running long trails over mountains, unsupported by comfortable aid stations conveniently placed along the route.  Pilots will continue to fly in hostile, unforgiving terrain where lack of even the most basic survival knowledge could mean the difference between life and death.

Wherever your career, sport or hobby takes you to in this coming year, we will be offering a course to prepare you both mentally and physically for the hardships that potentially lie ahead.  Survival skills are indeed one area in life where a little knowledge can take you a long way.  Over the next 12 months we will be training the following:  school expeditions; sportsmen who run, cycle and paddle their way through the toughest terrain; pilots who plan to fly in the most extreme regions of the planet; ordinary citizens who feel a simple but deep-seated respect for their environment.

As part of our preparation for these courses, we will be publishing a series of articles on the four basic principles of survival: Protection, Location, Water and Food.  But the cord that threads all four tenets so tightly and effectively is Fire, so to kick us off for the year ahead is an article by our resident expert on the subject.

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Reviews from our students!

It’s been an exciting few months for Survival Training South Africa.  Is it my imagination or is everyone just getting busier and busier?  It seems that wherever you go or whatever your interests are in life, there’s just not much chance to just sit back, relax and reflect; everyone is just too busy, including us!  It’s certainly the case that as our courses start to rattle by there’s less time to write these newsletters and more excuses to procrastinate.

In this November issue I include a write-up by Chris Crewdson describing a course that we ran for a Magnetic South/SanParks team in preparation for this years fantastic Otter African Trail Run.

Additionally, Wellington College from the UK recently spent some time in South Africa during the English schools half term and one of the first things they did on arrival was a Survival Course with STSA.  Good logic if you ask me.  I include an excellent piece by Neil Lunnon, the leader of the School group, describing the course that he and 30 pupils from the school took part in.  Additional testimonials from the pupils will be included on our website as a reference for other schools interested in our courses and Nathan has added course photos to the various galleries on Facebook and on our website.

Finally, a beautiful article written by Michelle Luyt (a participant on our Basic Course) who describes how the priorities learned in Survival Training translate into everyday living, if you can just slow down a little and take note of the things that really matter.

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Basic Survival Training Course Feedback

Well, it’s been a fairly benign winter thus far, in the Southern Cape at least.  On our recent Basic Survival Course we were fortunate enough to have cool but perfectly dry weather throughout, ideal for training purposes.  In an attempt to spare you from my further ramblings, for this month at least, I’ve decided to rather include an article written by one of the students from that very course; lively, amusing and insightful, it paints a more vivid picture than I could ever hope to achieve.  Many thanks to Jan for his literary effort!

 “The checklist supplied by Survival Training South Africa for their Basic Survival course was self-explanatory for the greater part.  However, some items listed appeared puzzling at first: why would you need tampons, condoms, and a foldable saw? Why, I wondered rhetorically, would one not rather pack freeze-dried food, water-bottles, possibly cold beer and lots of solar powered gadgets?  The thinking went that modern armies carry tons of the latter stuff and they seem to survive just fine.

Despite being allowed to take some food on the course, it was really very hard to overcome the instinctive reaction to not worry about food – and deliberately not pack any food or water.  I took the philosophical stance that one never knows when you are going to be placed in a survival situation.  Likely, your food and water would have been consumed long before you were even in the nasty situation. Likely also you would be dressed in non-ideal types of clothing, with no idea that things were about to go horribly wrong. I therefore deliberately dressed in cotton and brand new shoes. I expected to be taught how to survive in the most realistic manner possible, whilst being out of luck in the nutrition and proper clothing side of things.

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Survival Gear – Part 2 of 2

In part 1 we looked at the following guidelines:

  • Do your research well and know what resources will be available to you on your route.
  • Keep survival kit to a minimum but keep it accessible at all times.

In Part 2, we look at two more important concepts to help you prepare your survival gear; whether you’re a mountaineer, pilot, trail runner or day hiker, the principles are all the same.

  1. Know the four principles of survival and choose your kit accordingly.
  2. Practice with your emergency gear until using it becomes second nature.

Firstly, if we look at the four key priorities for survival that we teach on our courses, it helps to understand how to prioritise the gear we need.

  • Protection
  • Location
  • Water
  • Food

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Survival Gear – Part 1 of 2

There has been a definite chill in the air these past few nights, down in the Southern Cape at least, and it’s time to start thinking about what kit to carry when you next head out to the trail.

You can get away with a lot in the South African summer but when autumn creeps in, it can catch the best of us unawares. In this first of two installments, we look at survival gear and how to strike the right balance when packing for the great outdoors. And it’s a hard balance to get right, even after years of expeditioning, adventure racing or trail running – if only those goalposts would stand still for just a second!

Survival Gear

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Denial & Self Induced Pressure

I’ve had a lot of good feedback from the last newsletter; it’s not just heartening for me but also extremely useful to hear your views, so please keep them coming. Some of you have related some fascinating incidents where survivors have, through positivity and self belief, come shining through, despite all odds. One incident stands out in particular where a girl on a paddling expedition on the Caimans River in the Western Cape was swept downstream in a flash flood. She spent hours clinging to a ledge in the darkness before finally being rescued yet the first words she said to her rescuer were “I knew I would survive this”. (I’m in the process of tracking down both her and her rescuer to get more details of their remarkable story).

I’ve also had a lot of requests to discuss survival kits and equipment, what’s essential, what works and what doesn’t. Your comments and requests are duly noted and I will have something special for you in the February issue. However, I’m going to start the year off by focusing on two big killers in any survival situation: Denial and Self Induced Pressure.

Wherever you are, whatever it is you do for a living, one can all too readily hear the well worn and slightly comical phrase, “I don’t believe it!” The trouble is that in a survival situation, Denial can be lethal. Perhaps as a misfired mechanism for self protection, our brains are hardwired into not wanting to believe that something horrible is happening. There’s a great story by retired LA cop, David Klinger in his autobiography ‘The Kill Zone’. One night, when moonlighting as a security guard for a bank in the US, he saw a group of masked gunmen in the lobby. Rather than accepting that the bank was actually being robbed, his brain first offered up a whole range of less frightening options including:

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The Psychology of Survival

Welcome to this, the first Survival Training South Africa blog (and email Newsletter for those who registered).

This will be the first of many such blogs that we at STSA will be posting and I will welcome any feedback that we receive from these articles.  Any topics that you feel merit discussion, or you want to learn more about, then please let us know.  This week I will be focusing on a subject that, whilst close to my heart, is not something that is generally heard discussed on ‘survival TV’; the Psychology of Survival. 

So what do I mean by Survival Psychology?

I’ll start with a good working example of how SP perhaps saved a life.  Back in June 1995, USAF pilot Scott O’Grady was patrolling the UN imposed ‘no fly zone’ over Bosnia in a F16 fighter jet.  Scott, by his own admission was one of those pilots who treated air force survival training with more than a little disdain. (I used to see them all the time at the Royal Air Force School of Survival, all good guys, great pilots but not too excited about getting cold, wet and hungry on a survival course).

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