Survive & Thrive

Dr. Nicole Apelian – Pacific Northwest

  Nicole’s passions range from living and teaching wilderness living skills (fire, water, shelter, trapping, foraging, etc.) to prepping/emergency preparedness to her deep knowledge of medicinal plants and herbal medicine. Nicole connected with nature at an early age and her first exposure to true wilderness living began while working as a field biologist in Botswana in the mid 90s. Following a job as a game warden with the US Peace Corps, she began tracking and researching lions in Southern Africa and immediately fell in love with the African landscapes and the San Bushmen’s way of life. Already having a Master’s degree in biology, she later completed her doctorate while working with the San Bushmen. After developing strong relationships within the tribe, Nicole learned many of the primitive skills and ways she practices and teaches today. At home in the Pacific Northwest, she makes her own herbal medicines from local plants as part of her healthy living strategy after being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 2000 ( This diagnosis changed her lifestyle and eating habits, but didn’t deter her from becoming one of the founders and primary guides of her own tracking and wildlife safari company, Eco Tours International ( Nicole thrives as a personal wellness and life coach helping people develop personalized holistic life plans, especially as related to autoimmune issues (, and has her own herbal medicinal apothecary line ( Nicole was a challenger on the second and fifth seasons of the History Channel’s TV series “Alone”, where she thrived in the wilderness totally solo with little more than her knife and her wits. She teaches workshops on her land in the Pacific NW, and also travels to teach skills across the globe.

Learn more about upcoming classes with Dr. Nicole Apelian here:

On Wilderness Living Skills

Wilderness living skills differ from survival skills in that the first is a knowledge-based way of living in ongoing harmony with the natural world. Survival is inherently an acute, short-term perspective; it is a strategy best applied for when you get lost or hurt and need to find a way to survive through difficulty until you can get rescued.

Wilderness living takes practice— it is how we as humans have lived and thrived for eons in a sustainable way, the way that many indigenous cultures still live today. It is a natural way of living as a part of nature. If you want to learn how to get back to your roots of connection, wilderness living skills are the place to start.

On Survival

Shelter, fire, water, food, and hygiene are the classic five priorities for staying alive and well in both a survival situation and in wilderness living. Immediate concerns need to be addressed right away. These include personal safety and security, first aid, and if needed, personal protection.

What is the most important skill to understand for survival? Number one is your psychological state; your attitude and mindset affect your choices and actions, which in turn are reflected in your quality of life. Nature can be the greatest teacher of the importance of this lesson. For instance, if you are fearful and rushing when you set up a shelter, chances are that you are not fully aware of your surroundings. When exposed to the elements, this is at best a recipe for cold, wet, uncomfortable nights and put you at risk to true danger at worst. In a survival situation, staying positive and therefore attentive to your own wellbeing is key.

“Research suggests that how a person views his illness may play a bigger role in determining his health outcomes than the actual severity of his disease…” Read more on the Association for Psychological Science website »
In this way, mind over matter works– it even helps with illness. I have found this to be true in my personal journey with MS and also in survival situations. A positive attitude allows room for discernment and leads to better decisions. In my opinion, hope and positivity are two of the most important survival skills you can possess

Dr. Nicole Apelian is available for media interviews, speaking engagements, private consulting, and more. For information on working with Nicole or to schedule an interview or appearance, please submit your information below.

If you have a personal health-related question that you’d like Nicole to answer on her blog so that she can help you as well as others who may be experiencing the same issue(s), please provide as much information below as possible about the condition or concern. All of your personal information will be kept strictly confidential and will never be published or shared. Nicole does not diagnose or treat through this website, and her responses do not constitute medical advice but are based on her own personal experiences.*

Located in SW Washington in the beautiful Willapa Hills outside of Raymond, WA far from any noise or neighbors. Nicole’s property has a large teaching pavilion, meadows for camping that are surrounded by Pacific NW woodland and has composting toilets as well as running water and a propane stove in the teaching area. Two large fire pits (one under the open sky and one under the pavilion) and ample parking complete the set up. Nicole welcomes others to come and teach on her land as well.

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