Program Details
23 Weeks From € 14,450
Code: ZABF0039N

Safari Field Guide Course in South Africa

Spend 23 weeks training in the African bush with an optional 6 months placement


Program Information

Become an accredited Field Guide and forward your conservation career when you spend 23 weeks training in the iconic South African lowveld; one of the best wildlife locations in the country. You will gain skills and qualifications applicable to many conservation careers and there’s an optional placement to give you the opportunity to gain experience and secure the best possible start to your career.

United Nations
Sustainable Development Goals

Overview

Join us in South Africa’s Lowveld region, one of the world’s best big game territories and train to become a qualified field guide, a knowledgeable conservationist and experience the African bush at its best. This course is the ideal platform for a successful career in the African safari lodge industry and many international wildlife conservation careers or for a hands-on experience in the African bush that you will never forget. So be proactive and broaden your horizons, while gaining diverse qualifications, experience and transferable skills to improve your employability. The course can offer all this, whilst you have an adventure of a lifetime.

"It is not enough to say you love wildlife and are determined to work in conservation - you need your skills and experience to support this"


- Conservation Careers advice.




On the course we offer high quality theoretical and practical training, covering a diverse range of topics while being situated in one of the wildlife hot spots in South Africa. The foundation of the course is structured around the FGASA (Field Guide Association of Southern Africa) syllabus, which will give you an in depth knowledge and understanding of Southern African Fauna and Flora. This, along with the additional activities, will show potential employers around the world that you have the ability and drive to learn, and importantly transferable skills to take into your conservation career.  Other relevant and exciting activities and qualifications have also been added to boost your CV and show employers that you are resourceful and determined about making it in conservation.

The curriculum includes bush skills such a wildlife tracking, shooting competency, 4×4 driving, outdoor first aid, wildlife photography, wildlife surveying techniques and in-depth knowledge and practical application of subjects such as conservation, ecology, reserve management, geology and animal behaviour. The course has been designed to develop applicants into highly skilled professionals in the exciting area of field guiding, conservation, research, adventure tourism or lodge management, by providing a well-rounded, specialised education which focuses not only on the theory but the practical aspects of wildlife conservation and guiding.

Unlike many other training providers, this course focuses on practical skills and gives students a regular exposure to working and guiding around dangerous game, such as Elephant, Lion, Rhino, Leopard, Buffalo and Hippo. This invaluable experience gives students excellent grounding for any of our placements and future employment in ‘Big Five’ game reserves, research and conservation jobs in Africa and beyond.

All the trainers are from The Field Guide Association of Southern Africa (FGASA) and the course is both theoretical and practical. Students who choose to take the 23 week course and not the work placement will still be professionally qualified if they pass their exams.

Program Details

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Life on the Internship

The academic curriculum is accredited by the Field Guide Association of Southern Africa (FGASA); the ‘South Africa Qualifications Board’; and the ‘Culture Art Tourism Hospitality and Sports Sector Education and Training Authority ’ and all students are taught by experienced guides and instructors. All additional qualifications are also attained through accredited training providers.

A Typical Day

Typically the day will start early at around 5.30 – 6am. You will usually grab a cup of tea before heading out into the bush for a morning of practical training laden with reference books on the African bush and a pair of good binoculars. Each week you will be focusing on a different module such as birds, mammals, 4 X 4 skills etc.

On your practical sessions in the bush, either a walk or a drive, you will concentrate on these modules and put all the theory you have learnt in the classroom into practice in the field. For example, you might have collected some specimens that morning which you will bring back to the classroom for identification before the afternoon practical or lecture.

After the morning activity you will be welcomed with a hearty brunch. By midday you will be pretty tired and the African heat will certainly make you drowsy so all the students have a break to relax, rest or study – remember you have a test at the end of the week! After a break you will be ready to get some more fresh air and head out for an afternoon practical or lecture session building on your skills and knowledge gained in the morning session. All the teams return for an evening meal sat around the camp fire discussing their experiences that day.

At the end of each week all the students are tested on that weeks module before moving onto the next one. However, learning each topic is continuous as while you are out in the bush nature is all around you so you cannot help but increase your knowledge and skills as the weeks progress.

The course runs for 4 weeks and then you will have 1 week off to relax, either at camp or you are welcome to go off exploring. This might change at certain times but will basically follow this timeline. There is plenty to do here with Kruger National Park on our doorstep, visits to the Blyde River canyon, whitewater rafting, microlighting, horse back safaris – the list is endless! Please note that during time off, students are welcome to stay at the campus but please note that food, laundry, transport etc is NOT included during this time as the staff will also be having time off.

The course is fun but be warned this is no holiday – days are long and to reach the standard required to pass you need to be dedicated and focused.

"It's a wonderful experience that can only help you in the future. It will look great on your CV and help you find jobs in the conservation sector in your home country."


- Beth Silvester (UK)

Project Details

The course is known for producing the highest caliber graduates for this demanding industry. Throughout the years, our graduates have achieved the highest marks of all the FGASA long term providers many times and are considered some of THE best trained guides in the industry.

Field Guide students have an opportunity to undertake a 6 month placement. This allows students to gain valuable hands on experience, as well as cementing the information and skills learnt during the training period, and gaining a valuable 'foot-in-the-door' to the exhilarating and competitive safari tourism industry and, wildlife and conservation careers.

Please remember, the allocation is based on performance, interest and personality as determined by the head trainer. All students MUST pass both the FGASA and course requirements before being placed at any placement.

 

What's It like?

If you’d like to find out what the experience of joining a GVI project is really like, simply contact us and we’ll put you in touch with one of our many Alumni.

We’ll try to match you to an Alum based on your location, nationality, age, stage of academic career, gender, and program interests. This allows you to gain insights into the experience that is most relevant to you.

Depending on your location you might be able to speak to an Alum over the phone or online, or meet up with them face-to-face at a coffee shop nearby. We also run a series of small events around the world where you can speak to GVI Alumni, Ambassadors and staff members.

Our Ethics

Below is a list of core ethics and best practices we believe are essential to the operation of high quality, ethical volunteer and sustainable development programs. We believe that all responsible volunteer and sustainable development operations should focus upon these principles. If you are considering volunteering, these are some of the key considerations you should question, to ensure that your time and money contributes towards positive change.


Our 10 Ethical Commitments

 

Locally Driven, Collaborative Projects

We aim to design all our projects in collaboration with local organizations and communities and ensure that they are locally driven.


 

Clear Objectives & Sustainable Outcomes

We aim to clearly define short-, mid-, and long-term objectives with sustainable outcomes for all our projects.


 

Impact Reporting

We aim to track, record, and publish the impact of each of our projects.


 

Working Against Dependency

We aim to build in-country capacity by assisting local organizations in becoming self-sustaining.


 

Responsible Exit Strategies

For each local organization we work with, we aim to have a plan in place for withdrawing support responsibly.


 

Clear Roles & Specialized Training

We aim to ensure that ever participant is assigned a clear role and that they are fully trained and supported to carry out their work by specialized staff.


 

Respect for all

In all our actions we aim to respect the skills and efforts of all and seek to protect the rights, culture and dignity of everyone who engages with GVI.


 

Local Ownership

We work to ensure that credit for the results of any project, along with any data collected, research conduct, or Intellectual Property developed, remains the property of local organizations.


 

Transitioning from the Orphanage Model

We do not condone and aim to withdraw support of orphanages and residential care centers.


 

Child and Vulnerable adult policies

We will live by our Child Protection and Vulnerable Adult policies.


Continual Development

As an organization, GVI is committed to striving toward best practice, and to educating both our potential participants, our partners, and the world at large about them. Both the volunteering and sustainable development sectors are increasingly, and rightly, under scrutiny. Many recent local and global articles highlight poor practices and questionable ethics GVI is widely recognized for striving to apply global best practice in the volunteering, education and sustainable development sectors throughout our operations by reputable organizations such as ChildSafe.


However, global best practice is always evolving and we dedicate both time and resources to engage with internationally respected experts and learn from the latest research to ensure our programs both fulfil their potential to create maximum positive impact, and minimise their potential to create unintentional negative impact. Along with and as part of the sustainable development and volunteering community, we are constantly learning and applying this learning to practice. We do not always get everything right, but we seek feedback from our community members, partners, participants and our staff, and react accordingly. We know are already doing a great job, and feedback we have received confirms this, but we aim to do even better and are continuously refining our operations to improve upon our already excellent reputation.


What's Included

  • 2 x sets of uniforms
  • 24-hour emergency phone
  • 24-hour in-country support
  • 6 months work experience from placement venue
  • Access to Alumni Services and Discounts
  • Airport pick-up (unless otherwise stated)
  • All compulsory books (if included)
  • All necessary project equipment and materials
  • All necessary project training by experienced staff
  • Birding specialist course
  • CATHSSETA(The Culture, Art, Tourism, Hospitality and Sports Sector, Education and Training Authority) National Qualification (Level 2) in Nature Guiding
  • Cybertracker track & sign qualification
  • Dangerous game experience
  • Ethical guiding principles
  • FGASA (Field Guides Association of Southern Africa) national certificate - Level 1 - practical and theory
  • FGASA Level 2 knowledge
  • Limited internet access at no extra cost
  • Location orientation
  • Long term experienced staff
  • Meals while on project (except on work placements for long term internships)
  • National LEVEL 2 First Aid Certificate
  • National level 3, 4 x 4 driving qualification
  • Other activities, such as sleep outs, Kruger trips, etc.
  • Reptile orientation course
  • SASSETA (Rifle handling, proficiency, maintaining of fire arms and shooting)
  • Safe and basic accommodations (usually shared)
  • T-shirt, fleece jacket, cap and beanie
  • Transfer from Oliver Tambo International airport (if included)
  • Welcome meeting
  • Wildlife photography workshop
  • Wildlife surveying techniques skills

What's Not Included

  • Additional drinks and gratuities
  • Extra local excursions
  • Flights
  • Food during the placement portion of your internship
  • International and domestic airport taxes
  • Laundry, food and transport during weeks off
  • Medical and travel insurance
  • Personal items and toiletries
  • Police or background check
  • Professional drivers permit & licensing costs, including transportation
  • Recommended reference books
  • Transport costs to placement
  • Visa costs (where necessary)

Exploration

Saturday afternoons and Sundays are free time (although it’s recommended that students use this time for personal study and preparation for the upcoming lectures). However after every 4th week students get a full week off and are encouraged to leave campus, travel and explore the local area.

Some highlights to be enjoyed:

  • Blyde River Canyon – boat trips, kloofing, whitewater rafting, paintball, hot air ballooning and camping to name just but a few!

  • Kruger National Park – Orpen and Phalabourwa Gates are 1.3 hours drive from the campus. Daytrips/overnight camping available.

  • Moholoholo Rehab Centre – endangered species rehabilitation

  • Panorama Route – Bourke’s Luck potholes, God’s Window and waterfalls are just some of what you can see, easily completed in a day

  • Giant Baobab/Upside Down Restaurant – get up close with huge baobab trees, and don’t forget to try the great pancakes!

  • Debengeni Falls, Tzaneen – stunning waterfall, picnic area and hiking trails


Car Hire:

If you plan a trip away in your weeks off you may need to hire a car as public transport is almost non-existent in this area. The estimate cost for hiring a car is R450 per day, including insurance and unlimited mileage, cost could vary according to car size and different options. The more friends you take with you the cheaper it makes it too.

Many students also travel further afield to places such as Mozambique (Tofo area), Cape town, Durban and St Lucia World Heritage Sight during their off weeks.

"It definitely gave me the "edge" over other applicants for the job."


- Viv Eckersley (Australia)

The Team

Shayle Havemann

Director of Programs
Meet Shayle, our innovative and driven director for all our projects around the world. She has two honours degrees, one in Industrial and Organisational Psycology, and another in Developmental and Education Psycology. Shayle also has over 10 years experience in setting up, managing and evaluating environmental and community programs across Africa, Asia, Europe and Latin America.

She is well-practiced in facilitating meaningful and effective intercultural engagement and this makes her the perfect person for overseeing our operations in the multicultural country of South Africa.

When not attending meetings or planning her next endeavour, Shayle can be found spending time with her family or taking part in some or other exciting outdoors activity!

Select a Start Date

  • 2019
  • 2020

Select a Duration

Select a start date first.

Select Add-Ons

+ €21
 

Parent Info

‘If only every student could do this. It changes your life in all the right ways,’ says Chris Heritage, parent of Luke Herritage, one of our teen volunteers who has participated on two GVI programs, one in Costa Rica and another in South Africa.

We are a parent-run organisation that is incredibly serious about health and safety, and increasing the impact, as well as the long-term career benefits of our programs. Our programs help young people develop the skills to select a career path that is personally fulfilling, and live a life aligned to the well-being of our planet and the global community.

Ken and Linda Jeffrey, whose son Sam volunteered with GVI in Thailand, talk about how the experience affected Sam. He also went on to volunteer with GVI again in South Africa. ‘I know it sounds like a cliche but in a sense, he did go away as a boy and he came back as a young man. Both of us could recommend GVI without any hesitation to any other parent thinking about exploring an opportunity for their children to explore the world and to see different parts of it.’

Parent Info Pack

Download the Parent Pack and learn more about:

Our staff: All our projects are run by staff, selected, vetted, trained, and managed by our central office.
Health and safety: Our safety practices include a child and vulnerable adult protection policy.
Staying in touch: See what’s happening on base, by following a hub’s dedicated Facebook page.
Free parent consultations: We would love to talk to you about exciting opportunities available for your child.

Arrivals

When it comes to support, we ensure that each participant is provided with unparalleled, 360 degree support, from your initial contact with the GVI Family, all the way through your program, and even after, as you become part of the GVI Alumni Team.


As part of this promise, we will ensure, whenever possible, that one of our dedicated staff will be available to meet you at the airport. We will arrange with you prior to your departure that, should you arrive in the agreed upon pick up window, a member of our staff will be there to welcome you, easily identifiable in a GVI t-shirt or holding a GVI sign and wearing a friendly smile. This means there will be someone there to greet you as you land, and from there you will be transported to your GVI base to start your adventure and meet the rest of your team.