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Wild Namibia

Woodsmoke is collaborating with Born To Run to capture to the essence of what is required to run 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, become effective trackers and run the equivalent of a persistence hunt, the way their ancestors once did to survive?

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 this dying art – 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, or one of his master coaches from Born To Run, will be teaching a world class running workshop in the cooler hours of each morning and evening.

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.

Focusing on skilful running technique, barefoot or minimal footwear technology, using cutting edge plantar plate technology and slow motion video analysis they will have you running efficiently, like a natural hunter-gather in no time.

We know that you weren’t born native Bushmen (and that 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 are going to reduce the distance and make the tracking a little easier. This trip is about learning good skills and techniques and achieving something very special and unique.
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.

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.

Our species has lived on Africa’s vast savannahs for 1.8 million years, to evolve we had to eat calorie laden fat and meat, but evidence suggests we only been used traps and projectile weapons for a tenth of that time…  so how did we hunt? My guess is that we ran and tracked and ran some more…
Learning to be a tracker is like learning to read again. To begin with you start with learning your letters, then you work on your phonetics, start to pronounce words, string together sentences and eventually you are reading whole chapters.

In his book ‘The Art of Tracking’ Louis Liebenberg, postulates that tracking is the origin of science, that our modern scientific brains are a result of both evolutionary biology and cultural evolution. One of the things that makes us unique as humans is our ability to visually track and even more critically, our ability project our thoughts into the future.

There will be time set aside for wildlife watching. Wildlife in the area includes large carnivores, like leopard, caracal, cheetah and hyena and large game species such as giraffe, 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.
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 life time? Do you think you could live in the the African bush? To track and run like your distant human ancestors?

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

2018 DATES: 13-20th October
(dates are listed as in-country – Airport pick-up at 14.00 on the Saturday and drop-off at 13.00 on the following Saturday)
PRICE: £1,895 per person
(does not include international flight – approx. £700 or personal travel insurance)