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Wild Namibia

Woodsmoke is collaborating with Lee Saxby and Rafe Kelley to capture to the essence of what is required to run, move and track like our ancestors, mastering life in the desert biome.

Focusing on the endurance running hypothesis, a perfect blend of running and tracking, we are asking the question – do today’s Westerners have what it takes to learn to live in the African veldt, to skilfully move through landscape, become effective trackers and run like on a persistence hunt, the way their ancestors once did to survive?

Important: You do not need to be a serious runner to attend this workshop…  you don’t even need to be a runner at all! It is designed for people who want to learn to run well, or improve their existing running style.

Lee Saxby is a global authority on barefoot running and natural locomotion, with over 20 years studying and coaching in biomechanics, nutrition, athletic training and evolutionary biology.

Rafe Kelly is the founder of ‘Evolve Move Play’, with a back ground in parkour (5 years as the head instructor at Parkour Visions) he has taken his parkour ethos back into nature, teaching people to move with ‘flow’ over grass, rocks, and through trees. 

Blending wilderness skills with ancestral movement techniques you will learn how to comfortably live in nature, whilst at the same time practice how to move safely, efficiency and gracefully through wild places.

We are going to the Erongo Mountains in Namibia, the eroded relic of an ancient volcano, a harsh yet beautiful landscape on the edge of the Namib Desert. Where the scorched sandy plains meet the woodland savannah, an area that is still abundant with wildlife and was once the ancestral home of the San Bushman.
“Tracking is like dancing, because your body is happy. It is telling you the hunting will be good. You feel it in the dance. It tells you. When you are tracking, and dancing, you are talking with God.” – !Nqate Xqamxebe (a persistence hunter featured in the documentary film The Great Dance: A Hunter’s Story)
We are not going to attempt to hunt anything, but simply to teach the skills required to potentially revive the dying art of the persistence hunt – a uniquely human skill involving physical prowess and cognitive ability. These are not super human skills, but a human heritage; a legacy that with a little devoted practice and training anyone who is serious can achieve.
The Landscape dictates the movement we employ as humans. Lee Saxby will be teaching a world class running workshop in the cooler hours of each morning, Ben will be teaching desert bushcraft skills during the heat of the day, Rafe will run a natural movement workshop in the afternoon and Ben will finish each day with a session on mammal tracking.

We know that you weren’t born a native Bushman (the hunters of the central Kalahari have been documented to chase a kudu for between two and five hours over 25 to 35 km, in temperatures of about 40 to 42 °C), so we aren’t going to attempt anything like the distance of a persistence hunt. This trip is about learning good skills and techniques and achieving something very special and unique.

Running has shaped our bodies from literally our heads to our toes – we have ligaments that stabilise our heads, long limbs and short toes, we are designed to run. We are the bi-pedal endurance running ape – that is our ecological niche, simply put; we were born to run.
Very few people get to experience the veldt in this way, so don’t be surprised when you fall in love with the desert – bewitched by her brooding tawny landscapes, the gentle peoples and her incredible wildlife. 

As well as moving through it, we need to learn how to live in it. Ben will be teaching the expedition and wilderness skills needed to be comfortable in this amazing landscape – like fire making, sourcing water, tool use, tracking and finding and preparing food – skills that make us uniquely human.


A true truly ancient wilderness, made up of volcanic granite and basalts and slowly eroded for 130 million years, the Erongo Mountains are a natural movement paradise. Small kopjes rise from the sand floor, covered in cliffs, boulders and slab rocks. Rafe will be in his element.


There will be time set aside for wildlife watching. Wildlife in the Erongo area includes large carnivores, like leopard, caracal, cheetah and hyena and large game species such as giraffe, desert elephant, rhino, blesbok, waterbuck, impala, warthog, baboon, aardwolf, porcupine, mongoose, honey badger, kudu, oryx, eland, mountain zebra, klipspringer, springbok, steenbok and Africa’s smallest antelope, the dik-dik.



Throughout the trip we will have two Ju/’hoansi San Bushmen trackers teaching us their tracking skills and sharing their rich cultural heritage. Your San teachers will show you how to look for the spoor of the desert animals and tell their stories written in the sand.
Accommodation: This is a ‘rustic luxury’ trip. The initial safety briefings and running assessments will be conducted from a lodge near the capital Windhoek. From there we will travel to the Erongo Mountains where we will camp in large safari tents, each with their own ensuite flush toilet and shower. The final night in the bush will be a ‘wild camp’ at a truly stunning wilderness campsite, complete with a toilet and shower, where you will simply sleep out under the stars around the campfire. The final night will be back in the lodge at Windhoek to ensure everyone makes their flights home.


Meals: Food will be largely seasonal, local and organic, with the majority of the food produced on the farm. The wild game / meat options are truly delicious, with barbecue and steak being an option most nights. Vegetarians / vegans are also well catered for.

Note: please do not book your flight until you have confirmed your place on the course with us and made email contact first – this trip will need a minimum number to run.
So are you up for the adventure of a lifetime? Do you think you could live in the African bush? To track, run and move like your distant human ancestors?

If you are interested in this trip and would like more detailed information pack, please contact us.

2019 DATES: TBC October
(dates are listed as in-country – includes airport pick-up  and drop-off )
PRICE: £1,895 per person
(does not include international flight – approx. £800 or personal travel insurance)