This comprehensive and unique 1-year course has been designed to supply the safari industry with high caliber FGASA qualified field guides. The course is for participants either serious about pursuing a career in field guiding or looking for a gap year learning experience. You will be exposed to diverse ecological and geological terrains, landscapes, wildlife species and so much more at wilderness camps in remote places such as the Makuleke Concession (Kruger), Karongwe Reserve, Selati Reserve and Mashatu Reserve (Botswana). Our unfenced bush camps provide a consistently stimulating environment in which to learn, supported by our highly qualified and experienced instructors, each with their own unique way of training and guiding that will enhance your overall training experience.
Some subjects covered on course are : The Introduction to Guiding in the Natural Environment, Basic Bush and Survival Skills, Geology, Basic Ecology, Basic Taxonomy, Mammals, Reptiles, Fish, Birds, Animal Behavior, Tracks and Tracking, Approaching Dangerous Game Animals, Off-Road and 4×4 Driving and Night Drives.
Participants older than eighteen years, who hold a valid driver’s license (manual gearbox experience is preferable) are invited to attend, from all walks of life. Many participants enroll onto this course for a gap year experience or extended bush holiday although this course does form the foundation for a career in field guiding or other wildlife orientated careers.
Both morning and afternoon sessions will alternative between game drives and walks, whilst midday lectures involve topical discussion and instruction on the subject or game encounter of that particular day. Following all of this is personal study time and relaxation.
The course will be organised by a FGASA registered training provider. They are also accredited by CATHSSETA (Tourism and Hospitality and Sport Education Training Authority) for the FGASA Field Guide qualification, thereby meeting the required standard. FGASA and CATHSSETA are the two bodies primarily responsible for regulating standards within the guide training industry in South Africa.
For the One Year Professional Field Guide course, students will be registered with FGASA and CATHSSETA. Students need not arrange this themselves before coming on the course.
PFTC (Professional Firearm Trainers Council) – Firearm proficiency training will take place on the first two days of course during orientation. This training is facilitated by a PFTC (Professional Firearm Trainers Council) accredited training provider and upon successful completion, participants will be awarded with a firearm proficiency certificate.
NB – VERY IMPORTANT!! FGASA will only issue your FGASA Field Guide certificate if you have a valid first aid qualification! Our suggestion would be that preferably this qualification should be obtained before joining the course. First Aid is generic worldwide, so this can be done at any accredited institution in any country.
The sleeping arrangements at all of 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.
Mashutu shares borders with Zimbabwean and South African national parks; there are no fences between the reserves. Mashutu is between the Tuli Safari Area in Botswana and the South African Mapungubwe National Park. It is a rugged savannah landscape, wild and with open plains and riverine forests where large herds of elephant abound. There are also many predators – leopard, cheetah and lion – in this Land of Giants located at the confluence of the Shashe and Limpopo Rivers.
Dates & Costs
2019 rate per person
ZAR 297,000 (no VAT payable)
In unforeseen circumstances, rates (for unpaid bookings) and venues are subject to change without notice.
Arrival for any of the below courses is 14h00 on the first day, with departure at 9h00 on the last day.
Costs: R 297,000
4 January – 16 December 2019
1 February – 22 December 2019
3 August 2019 – 14 July 2020
1 September 2019 – 23 August 2020
1 October 2019 – 13 September 2020
- Drop off at Emerald Backpackers on the last day
- Pick up at Emerald Backpackers on the first day
- Entry to Kruger Park (for Makuleke Courses)
- Instructors and Training
- Wilderness Medicine Course
- Game drive
- 3 x sets of uniforms (shirts and shorts)
- Tea, Coffee & cordials
- Other activities (sleep out, etc)
- All FGASA registration, examination and moderation fees and books
- PFTC (Professional Firearm Trainers Council) Proficiency Certification
- Transfers/transport to and from the camp, before and after off times.
- Any accommodation before and after the course and during off times.
- Beverages (beers, ciders, bottled water).
- NDT (formerly known as DEAT) registration.
- Entry to Kruger Park (for Makuleke Courses); Botswana border crossing.
18+, driver’s licence, able-bodied, able to walk at least 2 km
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.