Ecotraining vs Bushwise Field Guide Training Schools
If you’ve fallen in love with the bushveld after an African safari experience, why not consider a career in the safari industry? This growing tourism field offers exciting opportunities for those with a passion for nature. Combine that with a personality which easily connects with people, and you are set for an exciting career in the African wild!
The following are two reputable agencies at the top of the safari industry. Below we compare their course offerings, providing you with the chance to choose the most suitable agency for your unique career needs.
|Accredited with FGASA||Yes||Yes|
|CATHSSETA Accredited Assessment||Yes||Yes|
|Accommodation||Depends on the camp.
Meru tents, dome tents, bandas, thatched luxury tents with ensuite. No electricity (only generator and solar). Limited internet access. Basic bush camp set-up.
|Thatched rondavels, electricity, internet, fenced camp|
|Job Placement Programme||Yes||Yes|
|Practical Course Activities||Yes||Yes|
|Number of Courses||12||3|
|Career Courses||– Professional Field Guide|
– FGASA Field Guide
Level 1/NQF 2
– FGASA Trails Guide
|– FGASA Professional Field|
– Back Up Trails Guide
– Academic Groups
|Wildlife Courses||– Safari Guide|
– EcoTracker Course: Animal
tracks and tracking
– Kenya Safari Guide
– Wilderness Trails Skills
– Matric EcoQuest
– Masai Mara EcoQuest
|Birding Courses||– Birding in the Bush||N/A|
|Photography Courses||– Birding in the Bush||N/A|
|Training Locations||7 unfenced bush camps in prime wilderness areas across South Africa (Kruger National Park), Botswana, Kenya and Zimbabwe.
|3 private game reserves:
|Countries Operating In||4||1|
|Training Camp In The Kruger National Park||Yes||No|
|Bursaries or Scholarships||No||Yes|
First Aid Certificate (Level 1)
Drivers Licence (manual)
What It Takes To Become a Field Guide
Firstly, you must complete a FGASA approved course. You can start studying by the age of 18, but you will only be able to work as a qualified field guide by the age of 21. The age restriction has been authorised by law. To operate as a South African field guide, you must convert your valid South African driver’s license to a Public Drivers Permit (PDP), which is only issued to a person aged 21 or older. The document can be acquired from a local police station before heading to the local Traffic Department. Please note, the approval process can take between 3 to 6 months. International students can only apply for it after they have obtained a work permit or permanent residency. The other additional accreditation that is required, is a Level 1 First Aid certificate. You must ensure that the qualification is approved by the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEAT). Lastly, you must be registered with The National Department of Tourism (NDT) to become an official South African Field Guide.
Location, Location, Location
When you are studying the African bushveld, it’s crucial that you are exposed to a wide variety of wildlife. The benefit of unfenced camps is that the array of animals are constantly changing. You will also be able to experience the dynamics of the bushveld in a more natural setting. Observe how a lion pride vies for the top order, dealing with internal strife between the members. On the other hand, in a monitored private nature reserve, the regular exposure to the same animals will offer you the chance to familiarize yourself more with them. Both of these settings offer their own pros and cons.
Reasons to Consider a Field Guide Course
A career as a field guide can be a unique life-changing experience. It is one of those industries that stretch beyond occupying your day from 8 to 5. You will be living at the game reserve during training and thereafter for your job placement, completely immerged in the African bushveld. During your course you will meet likeminded individuals who share your passion for wildlife and tourism. It is also not the typical university setup where you head to class and then homewards afterwards, it is a more holistic learning experience. A field guide course balances theory and practical experience, involving a hands-on game drive almost every day. If you have realised that you have a passion for wildlife and tourism, there is no better way to explore a career combining these two. And by choosing an agency that involves a job placement program, you can gain access into the industry more effectively. The field guide course can also open up opportunities in related wildlife industries, such as animal rehabilitation.
The Long Term Benefits
In addition to the skills involved with managing a game drive, you will also learn more about teamwork and leadership skills in general. Other practical skills involved include driving a 4×4 vehicle and photography. A great bonus of a career as a field guide, is that you can save money because your accommodation is included in your job package. Depending on the structure of the game reserve, regular vacation breaks will also be included in your work schedule. In the end, your field guide course can open up many other career pathways in other fields such as Tourism, Marketing, Hospitality, Logistics, Operations, General Management and more. Visit ecotraining.co.za or bushwise.co.za for more information.