desert SURVIVAL skills (2 DAYS)

Cost: $265 per person. 8 person max. 2 person minimum to run course
Dates: May 27-28 (FULL), November 4-5                                                                                         Location: Los Coyotes Indian Reservation, San Diego, California                                         Address: 2300 Camino San Ignacio, Warner Springs, CA 92086. We meet at the guard hut located at the main entrance gate at 9am. We finish around 4pm (on day 2). Do you have a transport problem? Contact us about our free shuttle service from San Diego.


Our California desert survival course teaches the skills necessary to survive in arid terrains. Managing exposure to extreme temperature fluctuations, finding water, making fire and learning primitive bushcraft skills are the objectives of this course. We hike into a truly spectacular isolated desert oasis, part of the famous Sonoran desert hosting a natural spring and a variety of endemic desert plant and animal species. We spend a night under the stars of California learning survival and bushcraft skills in a truly spectacular environment where the Cahuilla and Cupeno Indians once thrived. No previous outdoor experience required, families with kids welcome!

Not sure what to expect on this course? View a short video of us in the field!

Students processing yucca to make rope, using the same method as Native Americans.   

Students processing yucca to make rope, using the same method as Native Americans.   

Survival Course Details:

  • How to travel effectively in the heat and avoiding dehydration and heat stroke
  • Solar Stills and Plant Transpiration Stills for Drinking Water
  • Finding and purifying water sources
  • Desert plants for medicine, food, and water
  • Animal tracking and behavior 
  • Yucca fire saw (the only Survival School in California to teach this method) or hand drill method for fire
  • Harvest and process yucca/sisal rope
  • Traps for Small Game
  • Primitive Navigation by sun, moon, or stars
  • Bushcraft techniques
  • Venomous desert animals and treating bites and stings
Amazing!!! Joel is an extremely efficient guide that takes the real use approach for easy guaranteed skills that can help you survive a worst case scenario
— Dan Rhomberg, Los Angeles CA

What to Bring: 

We are hiking into our survival bush camp with all our gear therefore it is recommended to pack light and efficiently. We get our drinking water from a wild spring so no need to pack it in

Visit our Gear page for recommendations

  • Fixed blade knife and folding saw. The Swiss army multi-tool knife with the saw feature is also a good option
  • Water bottle (Kleen Canteen is a good option as it is stainless steel and unlined so good for boiling in)
  • We bring water filters to purify drinking water but if you prefer to have your own then please bring it. Sawyer squeeze and lifestraw are effective and affordable options
  • Headlamp, Gloves (optional), Camera, Notepad, and Pen
  • Warm clothing layers and hat for time of year
  • Day Pack
  • Light weight camping gear: Sleeping Bag, mattress, tent etc.. If you prefer to go minimalist then simply bring a foam mattress and sleep out in the open. Instructors only use a foam mat, sleeping bag, and Gore-Tex bivy and always sleep in the open apart from when it rains. You can bring whatever camping gear you feel comfortable with.
  • Food - MRE / dehydrated food packs / bars are good choices for your dinner and second day lunch meals...bring a packed lunch for the first day. 
  • Any other survival/camping items you desire

Cancellation policy:

Payment required in full to secure dates and availability. Refund of fees are available if notified more than 5 days in advance of course start date. There will be a 3% fee withheld from refund to cover payment/transfer costs. If you cancel within 5 days of scheduled date of training no refund will be provided, however we can provide you with a credit applicable for the same course at a different date. Due to minimum class size requirements we might need to cancel a course,  if so we will provide a full refund or offer an alternative course date.

Click here to watch Instructor Joel van der Loon Survive the desert solo with no tools.


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View Knife-only Walkabout course here