Primitive skills course (2 DAYS)

Cost: $265 per person. 8 person max. 2 person minimum to run course
Dates: May 27-28 (FULL), November 4-5 (4 spots left)                                                       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.


Primitive survival skills are necessary for any bushcrafters tool kit and often the most challenging to master. This course is an extension of our 2 day wilderness survival skills course and focuses on teaching you how to make primitive tools in the wild using indigenous techniques and only a knife. We hike into a truly spectacular isolated desert oasis hosting a natural spring and a variety of plant and animal species. We spend a night under the stars of California learning survival and bushcraft skills in the same environment where the Cahuilla and Cupeno Indians once thrived. No previous outdoor experience required however it is recommended to do the wilderness survival course prior, families with kids welcome! Camping gear and food are allowed on this course

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

Course Details:

please note full curriculum depends on time of year and resources

  • Purifying water with ancient rock boiling and digging seep wells
  • Finding water using natures indicators such as plants and animals
  • Using stones as cutting tools
  • Desert plants for medicine, food, and water
  • Basic animal tracking and behavior 
  • The Yucca fire saw (the only Survival School in California to teach this method) or hand drill method for friction fire making
  • Harvest and make yucca rope
  • Make primitive traps or hunting tools for Small Game
  • Make primitive bowls and utensils
  • Primitive Navigation by using the sun
  • Make natural toothbrushes, soap, and deodorants 
  • 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 a folding saw is your option. 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 14 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 14 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