I booked this course “Anti-Poaching and Survival” in South Africa (SA) through Truways Survival (TS). The course instructor was Les Brett (LB). We had some amazing experiences, however I felt there was a lack of instruction time during the course. LB is clearly very experienced and knowledgeable, is inspiring and is very passionate about conservation to which he devotes his life. LB was the only instructor on the course. He did almost all of the catering, including going for the fresh supplies. One afternoon he did a four hour round trip to get supplies. I think it is too much for one person to do all of this. He is an excellent bush cook, and has written books on the subject. The camp consists of about ten semi-permanent tents, centred around a huge and beautiful Fig tree. Fairly dense bush surrounds the tree so there is no view/outlook, which I found quite claustrophobic, given the amount of time we spent there. There is a flush toilet and an effective improvised wood fired hot shower, which is fun. At the camp we saw some wild cats (bigger than domestic cats), monkeys and a few glimpses of antelopes. A farm is located nearby so we could hear cockerels, cows and donkeys. There were no troublesome insects and the weather was beautiful (April). We could sit about in camp in the afternoon with T shirts on very comfortably, like a UK summer day, although out of the shade in the mid-day it would be hotter. I booked through TS as this appeared to be the only way of doing the course as I was not part of a group. However, if you were to approach LB directly http://www.dung-beetle.co.za/Home/ with a group booking this would be far better. I had trouble getting information about the course before booking. I phoned TS twice to get information, the person I spoke to obviously did not know much about the course and when I asked him if he had been out there to see the course he said no. I asked him what the survival aspects of the course were. His reply was: avoiding the dangers of wildlife and poachers with guns. To me this is not “survival”, if it was, then any course which teaches avoiding danger would also be “survival”, e.g. swimming lessons to avoid drowning. The TS website has numerous courses on “survival” covering water gathering, making shelters, fire lighting, etc, which I would regard as “survival”. I asked him if there were any reviews I could read, and he directed me to two that are on the TW website, assuring me that “they are genuine”. He suggested I phone LB to get more information saying that I would need to take account of the time difference to SA, and that he thought this was about 5 hours. I pointed out that since SA was south of the UK there would be little or no time difference. I exchanged some emails with LB, but the replies were very short, for example “Can you tell me how advanced the course is? Is it intro, middle or advanced?”. His reply: “Hi the course is at a level designed to accommodate and deliver at all levels, covering 16 subjects”. One of our five students on the course was not met at the airport, due to a mix up with the number of students on the course (LB had left the airport with 4 students thinking that was the total number). Apparently TS had not sent any paperwork for one of the students. Some phoning sorted this out and brought the minibus back to the airport. There was a mix up with the dates also: the dates on the TS website was 15 to 25 April (i.e. eleven days), and all the students made travel arrangements around that. However, during the course LB told us that the course is a 10 day course (8 days on site and a day each side of that for travel). Also I see elsewhere on the TWS website it is advertised as a ten day course. TWS charged £1495 for the course, but LB was paid £900 of that per head. A typical day on the course consisted of breakfast (cereal), then a lecture style lesson for an average of about 50 minutes on a subject such as the biology of lions, elephants, etc. Then a trip out of camp in the open top safari style Landover, typically for about two hours, finishing about 11.30. This was followed by a brunch, e.g. burger and chips. After that the next activity was a second trip in the Landover, at about 16.30, again for about 2 hours. Dinner about 7.30, typically very good BBQ meat, etc. That was typically all of the course activity time for the day, the rest of the time was “down time” spent in camp. The trips out in the Landover typically consisted of LB driving us around the tracked area of the reserve, in an area of about 3 or 4 square miles. Most of the time we would drive about with LB occasionally pointing out points of interest, e.g. “blesbok” or “grey hornbill”. Sometimes we would stop for a brief walk, of e.g. 5 to 10 minutes, during which LB would give us a few minutes lesson on a point of interest such as a warthog burrow or some tracks. We also sometimes would stop a few times to collect firewood. On three of four occasions our brief walks during the Landover drives were for the purpose of approaching buffalo or rhino by foot, getting to within 20 to 40 meters. I found this very frightening. LB had no firearm, and although an expert might say it’s not necessary, it added to my feeling of being unsafe. The two hour evening drives often included stopping in a nice area and drinking beers while watching the sunset. I found driving about very pleasant: nice to be out in the fresh air in such a beautiful place and great to see so many amazing new animals close up. However, I didn’t feel that I was learning a lot, apart from the names of the animals and birds. So, the time spent in camp was usually from about 11.30 till 16.30, and then after 18.30. During this time we spent our time sleeping, reading, etc. A lot of the time was spent sitting in the central camp area talking. Quite a lot of drinking was done by some, sometimes starting in the afternoon. Sitting around the camp fire at night was very atmospheric. LB has a lot of amazing stories and many strongly expressed views on the world. You couldn’t go out of the camp without LB during the “down time” due to the wildlife hazards, although some of us did go with LB on the occasional food shopping trips in the van. We didn’t get much exercise, so some of us started doing a daily press up routine. Some of the items on the TWS website syllabus for the course weren’t covered: “the art of camouflage and surveillance”, “ambush planning and procedures”, and “snare identification and procedures”. Also, we did not go on a ”night deployment with an active anti-poaching team”. We did however go out near the end of the course on two evenings just after dark to help the reserve staff feed rhinos and buffalo from a pickup. We each had a turn at doing this, on one of the two evenings, the other evening being an observer from the Landover. The feeding consisted of standing in the back of a pickup with the staff, and emptying bags of feed onto a feeding position on the ground, then driving 50 meters or so to the next one to empty more feed, while the animals milled around the vehicle to get the food. This was an amazing experience, being within touching distance of these amazing huge animals. However, it was all over in about 10 minutes, unfortunately. Survival was only covered with a few minutes here and there during the outings from camp, with for example a very brief talk on plants we came across which were poisonous or edible. Some of the students on our course tried fire lighting using the bow and drill friction method one afternoon for a couple of hours during “down time” without instruction. This failed, perhaps due to not knowing what type of local wood to use. We did cover some items which were not on the syllabus, such as “History of South Africa” which was our lecture for that day. A major issue for me on this course was the lack of instructed time. I found this frustrating and disappointing. I don’t think it could be called an intensive course. It was not what I’m used to or expect when I attend courses or help instruct on courses. However, if the above is the sort of course you would enjoy, then go for it! I think the course could be greatly improved with the addition of a second instructor filling in the “down time” that we experienced. The cost of that could be liberated by TS taking far less of the £1495. This would make attending the course more worthwhile, given the cost and time of attending.