Bear Grylls and his Survival Academy recently launched their first survival course in Africa, in the heart of the Zambezi Valley near the mighty Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe.  It is here that I joined the BGSA (and ex-SAS) instructors for the ride and learned a few things I didn’t expect….

1. Don’t have fun before you find a shelter

2. An impala’s testicles taste better than you might think, but I’d still prefer they stayed on the impala and not in my mouth.

3. Always carry a spare condom…. It makes a great water receptacle. If it happens to be flavoured, that’s a lucky bonus. Your socks will do as a makeshift filter.

4. Most people die climbing down mountains, not up them. Camp is a brand of climbing gear by the way.

5. Don’t choose a girl with three brothers as a self-defense sparring opponent. It’s not going to end well.

6. The white water rapids of the Zambezi do not have cute names: Terminator, the Muncher, Devil’s Toilet Bowl, Oblivion and Washing Machine. If there were any named after ponies, flowers or rainbows, we didn’t come across them.

7. SAS instructors are different folk.

8. A tampon, a 9V battery and some steel wool make a great combination when trying to start a fire

9. This is what your face looks like when you eat your breakfast out of a bag of boiled urine. You wouldn’t want to waste precious water on your chemical cooking fuel after all.

10. I hope I never have to use one of these.

11. Sweet looking women sometimes have a disturbing affinity for killing things


Scariest moment: loosing one of our comrades overboard in the Zambezi and her staying under the churning white water long enough for even the most confident river guide to start shouting “WHERE IS SHE???!!”

Biggest thrill: Making an SOS smoke signal and being surprised when a practice rescue scenario turned into a thrilling helicopter ride over Victoria Falls!

Location: based at Nakavango Conservation centre in the Stanley and Livingstone Private Game reserve  and expertly run by Mantis Extreme.

Getting there: British Airway Comair flies into Victoria Falls from Johannesburg.

For more information visit the BGSA website: