Joel van der Loon

Survival bushcrafT Instructor, school founder

My experience in becoming a survival instructor began from childhood growing up in South Africa and Tanzania, East Africa - in particular, living off the grid on an isolated stretch of tropical coastline of wild bush, hosting an array of animal species. 

The last 12 years, I have traversed through 40 countries and crossed oceans as a professional crew member, exploring some of the worlds most remote locations by sea. I have hiked, camped, and paddled in just about every type of ecosystem and trained in desert, alpine, jungle, and temperate survival methods. I have taught survival skills to various demographics such as families, celebrities, children, military, and even little people with dwarfism. I am qualified in advanced sea survival under the British Coastguard, I have tracked and hunted with the Maasai and Hadzabe tribal people in Tanzania-East Africa, and learned jungle survival skills from the Rama Indians in Nicaragua. I have put myself into testing conditions in the remote jungles of Costa Rica, the Alaskan arboreal forest, Florida swamps, arid Sonoran desert, coastline of Mexico and of course all over California with little more than a knife, water bottle, and the clothes on my back. I believe that there is no substitute for teaching from a position of real-life experience. I have worked with Lifetime, History, and Discovery channels and most recently feature on Episode 3 of Discovery's new show Bushcraft Build-Off. I write survival quizzes for and produce online survival training videos for

I have been a student of kick boxing and MMA for 7 years, and competed in several amateur bouts. I am a passionate surfer, free diver, spear fisherman, hunter, naturalist, and minimalist. 

I live a nomadic lifestyle and currently live in a travel trailer in the mountains of Ramona-CA with my wife, son, and dog.

Interested in getting to know Joel?...

Listen to Into the Wilderness USA with TJ podcast

Listen to Wild Ideas Worth Living podcast interview

Survival Qualifications, Education & Training:

  • STSC Survival Instructor
  • WMA Wilderness First Responder
  • MCA Medical First Aid Responder
  • ASHI Wilderness First Aid
  • MCA Advanced Sea Survival
  • MCA Advanced fire fighting
  • CA Hunter Education
  • CA Bowhunter Education
  • CA Trapping licence
  • RYA/MCA Yachtmaster200t Captains License
  • Celestial and electronic navigation
  • MCA Chief Engineer Officer Certificate of Competency
  • IMSN Vessel Safety Officer Course
  • IMSN Anti-Piracy Defense Course
  • Surf Proficiency Award, Lifeguard

Book a course with Joel here

Les Brett

south african anti-poaching and bushcraft course instructor

Les has over 40 years of bushcraft knowledge and experience in African countries such as Angola, Botswana, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe. A corporate member of the field Guides Association of Southern Africa and Professional Hunter's Association Les has achieve the coveted Level 3 Field Guide qualification. 

His specialist area of knowledge being dangerous game, in addition this he is also a licensed Professional Hunter (Dangerous Game) and Game Outfitter. 

International, private and public sector often seek his council and guidance when traveling and taking part in expeditions to remote areas of Africa, in the past Les has supported the British Schools Exploring Society, British Scouting Association, HM army forces, HM customs excise, US Special Forces, British Lions and England Rugby team as well as entities in the media and entertainment industry among others. Les has even trained a contestant for Discovery channels popular survival show "Naked and Afraid".

With speaking engagements at venues such as the Royal Geographic Society in London and in schools throughout the United Kingdom and USA, presenting on a myriad of topics such as Conservation and Environment. Media appearances include UK television's "Wish you were here" and newspapers and magazines including Sunday Express, Scottish Sunday Express, Wonderlust, Red, Survival Africa and National Geographic.


  • Desert and arid training provider
  • Specialist Ranger (dangerous game) - (GP0415)(NQF6)
  • Professional hunter and Outfitter - CPM-005-00013
  • Medical first aid (level 2)-(The American and Health Institute)
  • Advance driving (IBA)
  • Close protection officer (IBA)
  • Firearms training officer
  • Advanced weapons handling
  • Unarmed combat and self defense (NQF6)(SAQA)
  • Instructor TWPA (Threatened Wildlife Protection Academy)
  • Education, training, and development practitioner (NQF6) Handgun, shotgun, rifle, and hand-machine carbine
  • Special weapons and techniques (Koga training)
  • SA Maritime captains licence
  • Accredited SAPS training provider
  • Special tourist guide

book a course with Les

Les and ellies.jpg

View behind-the-scenes Shooting Show special, we bring you never-before-seen footage that depicts the devastation wrought on South Africa's rhino population by the poaching menace. We join ex-special forces operator Les Brett on a farm with the highest density of rhino on the continent.