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How to navigate in Extreme Environments

Latest News: The new online course – The Beginner’s Guide to Natural Navigation – includes a video tutorial on how to navigate using nature in extreme environments.

Natural navigation has long been used by those travelling in extreme environments, like the Arctic and the desert.

The sun, moon and stars can of course still be used in these environments, but one technique that is specific to these parts is an intimate understanding of the way the wind sculpts the land’s surface. The North American Inuit are able to read the shape of the ice’s surface and from this work out which wind caused the each ‘sastrugi’ or ice ridge to form. This gives them a strong sense of direction in even the worst visibility.

In the Sahara, traditionally nomadic cultures, like the Bedouin or Tuareg, read sand in a similar way.

A windy day in the Libyan Sahara. After sheltering for a few hours from a sandstorm, we try to take advantage of a lull in the wind to make a few miles.

I have studied these methods in the Libyan Sahara with the Tuareg, in Borneo with the Dayak, in Arabia with the Bedouin and led my own research expeditions into the Arctic. I have taught these techniques to groups from the UK, the USA and across Europe to Oman.

These methods and lots of others can be found in my books.

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For a complete guide to Natural Navigation read Tristan's books.

Wild Signs and Star Paths

How to Read Water

the walkers guide to outdoor clues tristan gooley

The Walker’s Guide to Outdoor Clues and Signs

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