top of page


by Brenda E Smith

Single Crocodile small image from Vecteezy_edited.png

Coerced by her boss and fellow river guides, Brenda Smith reluctantly embarks on a rafting trip through a vast Tanzanian game reserve. If she can survive twelve days on the remote jungle rivers, then she must scale Africa’s tallest mountain. After twenty-eight years of a safe and predictable life, Brenda is terrified of what awaits her in these dangerous wildernesses.


She comes face to face with angry hippos, roaring lions and stealthy crocodiles, and struggles with the extremes of unbearable heat and hypothermia.


Despite the harsh external threats she conquers, her greatest challenge is a profound inner journey—a courageous transformation as she uncovers the internal source of her fears and discovers the personal strength to do anything.


Becoming Fearless is an inspirational true story that showcases what is possible when you step out of your comfort zone into the wild.

Praise for this book

“The fires of transformation blaze in this superbly delightful portmanteau of a book. Brenda Smith undergoes a revolution in consciousness as she warily leaves the ordinary behind, steps off the comfort train, and careens into the strange and fantastic world of rafting crocodile-infested rivers and climbs high into the African sky.” - Richard Bangs, one of Explorersweb’s 100 greatest explorers of the last 100 years

"When, in 1981 at just twenty-eight years old, Brenda Smith hesitantly accepted the challenge of a wilderness adventure rafting on treacherous rivers in a remote Tanzanian game reserve and climbing Mount Kilimanjaro, she didn't know it would be the touchstone that would transform what was, until then, her safe and contained life. In Becoming Fearless, Smith guides us on her journey of discovery, plunging us with vivid, cinematic detail into the stunning, wild landscape of Tanzania in the era before the impacts of overcrowding and commercial development marred its natural beauty, and illegal poaching decimated its animal populations. Alongside her, we face harrowing encounters with hippos, lions, and elephants; we navigate the dangerous river rapids and currents; we scale steep and treacherous mountain terrain. And all the while, we feel her growing strength stretching past her fear to take her places she'd never dreamed of going. Becoming Fearless is a stirring account of how opening ourselves to some risk has the potential of offering us abundant rewards." - Melanie Brooks, author of A Hard Silence and Writing Hard Stories

"Becoming Fearless thoroughly immerses readers into a dramatic and isolated Tanzanian wilderness that, sadly, no longer exists. Thank goodness Brenda Smith has so vividly recreated every sensory detail from her memory and her research. You'll hear a lion's roar near your remote tent site, feel the jolts of fear when your inflatable raft is surrounded by agitated hippos, feel the aching shoulders and sun-blistered lips. You'll savor the taste of honey-drenched flapjacks and warm, crusty bread, baked in the coals of a campfire, and you'll marvel at a dazzling sunset halfway up Mt. Kilimanjaro. Smith's life-altering journey encourages readers to reach past fear and discover the wonders of the unfamiliar."  - Robin Clifford Wood, author of The Field House, Best Non-fiction Book 2022 Maine Literary Awards

"In Becoming Fearless, Brenda Smith writes an adventure story from a valuable and unique point of view, that of someone resisting the adventure, rather than embracing or fetishizing it. Throughout the rather amazing journey she documents, she constantly questions her decision to be in this position, in this place, yet carries on.  Ironically, it is through recognizing her limits while on Mt. Kilimanjaro that Smith discovers a true courage, and it is this courage which serves as the motivation for her later, very different types of adventures, which we learn about in an epilogue." - Michael D. Burke, author of The Same River Twice, and Emeritus Professor of English and Creative Writing at Colby College.

Best Amazon Rankings - Launch Week

#1 Africa Travel

#1 Survival Biographies & Memoirs

#1 Conservation

#1 AfricanTravel

#1 Environmental Issues

#1 East Africa Travel

#1 Science & Math

#4 Biographies & Memoirs

Selected Excerpts 


"She remained motionless as each one of our rafts floated by. With a regal aloofness, she observed her audience, accepting the homage we bestowed upon her. With the majesty of a benevolent queen, it seemed the lioness demanded the devotion of all creatures in the jungle kingdom she ruled."

African Lions

"Without warning, a thunderous roar exploded in the night air. The game rangers snatched their rifles. We sat frozen, paralyzed with fear. The lion’s unmistakable warning reverberated with the volume and clarity of surround sound, making its location impossible to determine."

bottom of page