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Survival and War Games in the Cambodian Jungle

Nou Sotheavy / Khmer Times Share:
Survival expert David Minetti leads a trek through a river in the Cambodian jungle. Photo: Jeremie Montessuis

PHNOM PENH (Khmer Times) – Hollywood films and reality TV shows have entertained and educated the masses about the art of surviving without modern niceties. As the latest series of “Survivor” finishes filming on Cambodia’s Koh Rong Island, Khmer Times sat down with Ex-French Legionnaire David Minetti to discuss the life he has carved out for himself by teaching people how to survive in the jungle.
Mr. Minetti said he first visited Southeast Asia 15 years ago, and decided to stay on. In Vietnam, he opened a gym and boxing school under the name “K1 Fitness.” Capitalizing on his experiences as a French Legionnaire surviving in the South American jungles, Mr. Minetti expanded his business to include customized treks he dubbed Wild Animals Rescue Adventures, or “WAR Adventures.”

His survival training courses are divided into three levels, where he teaches his students how to make camps, find water, find food, and navigate without GPS. He even has a river training course, where he leads a team trek in the river. 

“It’s like kids, you play,” said Mr. Minetti. He claims that his six-year-old daughter knows how to fish, start a fire, and read a map and compass – all skills which are taught in the courses set from family to expert level.

For passionate people, there is survival and resistance training. Working with the local army, Mr. Minetti takes a team into the jungle and, without violence, they must escape and survive in the jungle for 72 hours as a local militia tries to hunt and capture them. 

There are three levels of jungle survival courses, including an orientation course and medic course, which all participants must complete  to register for the yearly Long Range Reconnaissance Patrol (LRRP Deep jungle RECON) and Jungle Navigation challenge SERE Challenge (survival, evasion, resistance, escape).

A Need for Green

Currently working for the US State Department by training troops in Africa five to six times a year, the hardened soldier found that he grew restless living in the city and often needed a “bit of green” to relax and transition into civilian life.
After seeing the market for what he calls “green activities” in Vietnam grow for the past decade, he decided to expand this service to Cambodia. Having been technically trained in Krav Maga self-defense, military first-aid and snake-handling, Mr. Minetti is ready for anything. 

“If someone gets shot in the jungle I can fix it,” he said half-jokingly. 

Although expats make up the majority of his client base, he finds that more locals are starting to take an interest in his courses too. 

Looking towards the future, Mr. Minetti is moving K1 into Superfit’s Gym in the Russian Market area in September, and is planning less-intense treks for tourists.

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