The majority of time on this 28 day FGASA (Field Guide Association of South Africa) Trails Guide course will be spent enjoying bush walks in big game country. You will, on foot, explore the wilderness of the majestic Makuleke concession in the famed Kruger National Park or Mashatu Reserve in Northern Tuli Game Reserve, Botswana).
Your situational awareness, wildlife knowledge and appreciation of the environment will increase exponentially as this course is conducted in a wilder, different area which provides a truly authentic experience as a Field guide. This all whether you are working towards a career guide qualification or just attending for learning and self-satisfaction. Walking in this area is very rewarding and special as the 24 ,000 ha Makuleke concession hosts 75% of the Greater Kruger National Park’s biodiversity.
Our wilderness camp is located in an area of outstanding natural beauty known as the Land of Giants; there are majestic rocks, abundant wildlife, a profusion of birds, diverse vegetation and a very rich archaeological heritage.
NB : If a FGASA back-up qualification is what you are actually after, before coming on the course, you will have to attain the full FGASA Field Guide qualification.
The sleeping arrangements at all our camps consist of two people sharing per tent. Single requests are required to pay double-rates. Women and men do not share tents unless booked as a couple.
Early morning wake-up (tea, coffee, biscuits, fresh fruit and cereal)
Brunch after activity (cooked breakfast and fruit salad)
Afternoon tea (light lunch/ sandwiches)
Dinner (balanced, warm plated meal with meat, vegetables and salad)
The Makuleke Conservancy is a 24000 ha private concession in the north of the Kruger National Park. Located between the Limpopo River in the north and the Luvuvhu River in the south, it has large alluvial flood plains and central African vegetation, but also sandveld and a huge amount of plant and animal species. It is a gathering space for elephants from Mozambique and Zimbabwe as well as those that reside in Kruger. There are many hippos and crocs in the Luvuvhu and Limpopo rivers and as there is thick bush around, leopards happily hunt the nyala and impala near the rivers. Makuleke also hosts eland and grysbok whilst the birdlife is prolific.
Karongwe Private Game Reserve lies east of the Drakensberg Mountains in the Province of Limpopo and is an 8 500 ha area of South African bushveld; an untamed garden of eden – pure wilderness. The ‘Big Five’ flourish here, but there are also many other species such as elephant, rhino, buffalo, wild dog, cheetah, two hyena species, giraffe, zebra, wildebeest, and many, many antelope along with monkeys and baboons. Birdlife is proficient and the waters contain otters along with the normal hippo and crocodile. Rocky outcrops stand out within the reserve’s undulating terrain.
The Selati Reserve hosts over 50 species of mammals and is known for it’s large numbers of sable antelope. Species biodiversity is enhanced by elephant, black rhino and lion but it also hosts leopard, cheetah and the odd wild dog, amongst many others. Selati has a vibrant bird population due to the varied habitat; there are mopane woodlands and rare cycads in this undulating area. As with most other reserves in the general area there are many species of reptiles from monitor lizards to crocodile and snakes.
Our Vic Falls camp nestles along the Masuwe River a tributary of the great Zambezi River, in this 6000 acre conservancy, pristine wilderness. It is home to the Big 5 but also to the endangered Black Rhino. The savanna is full of wildlife and apart from the big 5 including giraffe, zebra and many of the antelope species, including Sable. There are both teak forests and savannah grasslands drawing hundreds of species of birds to it’s banks.
Our camp near Hoedspruit in South Africa, means that the property falls within the Greater Kruger National Park (GKNP), in total an area of over 2,000,000 ha of wild reserve, unfenced and with free movement of wildlife. It is an ex buffalo hunting farm that was incorporated into GKNP some years back and allowed to rehabilitate. Wild species that were absent for some time have now returned due to the dropping of all game fences.
Dates & Costs
Arrival for any of the below courses is 14h00 on the first day, with departure at 9h00 on the last day.
8 May – 4 June – Selati
18 June – 15 July – Mashatu
21 September – 18 October – Makuleke
- Accommodation (sharing)
- Tea / Coffee / Cordials
- Instruction and Training
- Game Walks
- All FGASA fees (exam, assessments and workbooks)
- Open vehicle game drives
- Transfers/transport to and from the camp, before and after the course
- Any accommodation before and after the course
Beverages (beer, ciders, bottled water)
- Kruger National Park entrance fee (only applicable if the course is at Makuleke Camp)
- Border crossing fee (only applicable if the course is at Mashatu Camp)
- Sleep outs/ additional activities
- In unforeseen circumstances, rates (for unpaid bookings) and venues are subject to change without notice
18+, driver’s licence, able-bodied, able to walk at least 2km
What is the general age and nationality of the other students on the course with me?
The age ranges of students tend to be from 18-65 … We have a wide variety of people, from a wide variety of countries. Be assured that you will meet and study alongside interesting people who are passionate and enthusiastic about conservation, and more specifically about the bush.
How old should I be?
In terms of age restriction we will accept participants from 12 years of age (accompanied by an adult), and 16 years of age unaccompanied. Please understand that our unfenced bush camps are all in dangerous game areas, and it is with the participant’s safety in mind that this restriction is in place. There is no cut-off age to our courses, provided participants are of a reasonable level of fitness.
In order to attempt the FGASA qualifications, participants are required to be 18 years or older and be in possession of a valid driver’s licence.
By when should I book my course?
We book on a first come, first served basis and therefore it is tricky to advise as to when you should book for your course. We can’t guarantee availability at any time, but can suggest that the sooner you book the stronger the likelihood will be that we can offer you a space on a course. Some courses are more popular than others, and certain times of the year are also busier. Our advice is that as soon as you are ready to commit, please make your booking.
We would typically require the registration forms completed and returned within seven days of making your booking, and payment of the deposit within two weeks from then.
How do I get to camp?
Please arrange flights into Johannesburg (OR Tambo International Airport). From there you are welcome to make use of our own Bush Bus transfer service, which runs between Johannesburg and our four camps in southern Africa.
Alternatively, you can arrange a connecting flight to smaller airports nearer to our camps (Hoedspruit Airport for Karongwe and Selati Camp/Polokwane Airport for Mashatu or Makuleke Camp), with private transfers to the camp meeting point (arrival).
Please bear in mind, though, that these connecting flights and private transfers are quite pricey. We feel the Bush Bus transfer is a far more affordable and practical option, in terms of getting to the camps.
Our logistics department will be able to best advise you on your transfer options to and from the camp. Please make contact on firstname.lastname@example.org, should you require further assistance.
Will I need a visa to join a course?
Usually, international participants can attend our shorter courses on a 90-day general tourist visa. This does depend on your country of origin, and visa requirements can change at any time.
The responsibility remains with the traveller to ensure they are fully aware of the most current immigration laws and visa requirements of the country/countries they intend visiting. EcoTraining cannot assist in this regard. Please contact your preferred travel professional for further advice.
As an international participant for the Professional Field guide course, you will be required to apply for a one-year study permit.
What are FGASA and CATHSSETA?
FGASA is the Field Guides Association of Southern Africa. CATHSSETAis the Culture, Arts, Tourism and Hospitality SETA (Sector Education Training Authority) for the South African government. These bodies are responsible for regulating the standard of guiding in South Africa.
We are a FGASA-endorsed training provider, with our FGASA Level 1 and Trails Guide Back-up qualifications accredited with them. We now have our Field Guide Level 1 qualification directly accredited with CATHSSETA.