Xtreme Gap offers courses designed to supply the South Africa safari industry with high caliber professional Field Guides. But these courses are not only available to people wishing to enter the industry as field guides, but for anyone who wants to increase their knowledge of the African Bush. Including work experience as a real guide!

 The South Africa Field Guide Course

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“Nothing gets the blood pumping more than approaching a full grown African Lion on foot.”

Xtreme South Africa Experience (7)If you want to experience the real Africa, discovering Africa’s wild places, living out among the wild animals of South Africa’s largest game reserve area then this field guide course is for you. If you are short on time you can opt for 28 day course. However if you want the ultimate sabbatical experience you can even unroll on a one-year course. This includes six months training on game reserves with a six month work placement (unpaid).

One year spent training to be a professional field guide, gets you right in the heart of the African bush and nothing gets you closer to all the wild animals of Africa. As well as the possibility of gaining a professional accreditation (looks amazing on your CV) you will genuinely have the time of your life training in a completely unique environment surrounded by the wild animals in the African bush.

The cost of the course is not cheap, however it is a one-year course all-inclusive (excluding flights) and is a genuinely life changing voyage of self-discovery in an African environment. If one year course is too long or the cost is too high you can also enroll in our 28 day safari guide programme.

Field Guide Course South Africa  Highlights Include:

You will live and walk midst the spectacular wildlife of the African bush for one year – for the first half of the year you will live and learn at our camps and for the remainder of the year you will work at a Safari Lodge as a trainee.

  • Training at all 4 of our camps presents a constantly stimulating environment to learn in you will be exposed to diverse ecological and geological terrains; landscapes; wildlife species; climates and more.
  • Our instructors, having many years of guide training experience and time in the bush, each possess different ways of training and guiding and this will enhance your overall training experience.
  • For parts of the course you will train in our Kruger Camp in the Makuleke concession which is a highlight for all our students. The Makuleke concession is not accessible to ordinary tourist visiting the park. This area is certainly the wildest and most remote part of the Kruger National Park and offers varied vegetation, great wildlife viewing, the best birding in all of the Kruger National Park and is filled with folklore of the early explorers and ancient civilizations.

YOU COULD GRADUATE WITH

  • FGASA Field Guide Level 1
  • SASSETA Competency Certificate –  Rifle Proficiency
  • FGASA Advanced Rifle Handling
  • FGASA Trails Guide Back-up
  • Basic and Advanced Birding
  • Tracking (Level 1, 2 or 3)
  • Wilderness Medicine (Level 1 and 2)
  • Navigation and Orientation
  • Guiding experience logged towards FGASA Level 2 practical assessment

Who typically does this course?

The course is open to all, people taking the course do not all wish to work in the industry, some of our customers undertake the course to get a good understanding of the bush and to experience more than your typical Safari holiday, others are gap year travellers wanting to get the most out of their South Africa gap year.

  • Gap Year Takers
  • Career breakers
  • Wild life conservation holiday enthusiasts
  • People with a career in Wildlife and nature

Photos

 

Itinerary

Important! Our camps are based within the reserves and we run 2 activities per day,  7 days a week. Many others Field guide course providers at other gap year companies, will offer accommodation outside of the big game reserves and then allow for activities only 3 days a week with an off day, test day, lecture day etc. Our camps are un-fenced  so dangerous game will wonder through from time to time and this makes for a far more authentic and Xtreme experience.

Our partners are the  only training provider that offer Field Guide training from within the Kruger National Park. This is something that most guides dream of training inside the Kruger. We have worked hard at securing the most unique locations for our camps  exposure we can confidently tell you, no one else can offer.

The one year course a typical day

Field Guide Course South Africa (20)A typical daily programme at the camp follows a routine of rising early, usually before sunrise, enjoying hot coffee while you listen to the bush waking up and then leaving the camp for an outing into the wilderness.
The outings are extremely flexible and determined by the unpredictability of what is found during the outing in combination with the subjects that have to be covered. The outing could be a game drive following up on the  roar of a lion heard during the night or a walk, learning about the plant species occurring in the area. It could be a walk following fresh elephant tracks, learning how to track the animal and finding it or it could be a game drive to a waterhole where animals come to drink.

Learners return to camp in the late morning for a hearty brunch which is followed by a lecture on the subject of the day. Study and rest time is then followed by afternoon tea and another outing into the wilderness until sunset, if walking, or until well after dark if doing a game drive. Afternoon outings could include night drives looking for nocturnal animals such as owls, bush babies and leopards or it could be a walk looking for and learning how to identify interesting birds. It could be time spent studying the night skies or it could be a time for learners to test their 4×4 driving skills.

It is then back to the camp for dinner, stories around the campfire, discussing the day´s experiences and wondering about tomorrow´s adventures.

The emphasis is on practical day-to-day experiences in the bush. The daily outings are flexible and may focus on specific subjects such as animal tracks and tracking, birds, plant identification or animal behaviour, or may involve game viewing and learning about the ecosystem in general.

Professional Field Guide Course  (FGASA Level, Trails Guide, specialised modules and the Lodge Placement Programme)

Field Guide Course South Africa (13)This comprehensive and unique one year course has been designed to supply the safari industry with high calibre FGASA and THETA qualified professional Field Guides. This course is not only available to people wishing to enter the industry as field guides, but for anyone who wants to increase their knowledge of the African bush.

Comprising this one year course is approximately 6 months of theoretical and practical training with our highly qualified instructors in which you will complete various separate certificate courses which should get you well prepared for the lodge placement period of actual lodge work and nature guiding at lodges with guests which makes up the second half of your course. We will place you at these lodges so that you can work with experienced guides to learn from them and to learn on the job so that at the end of the year´s course, you are not only qualified but also experienced. By this time you will be a prime candidate and should be snapped up immediately by a lodge for a guiding job.

This lodge attachment component will give you the practical experience and enable you to apply the theory you learned in the training at our camps. It also enables you to build up your ‘guiding days’ towards the one year of experience that is required by FGASA to be assessed for your FGASA Level 2 field guiding exams.

Field Guide Course South Africa (2)What qualifications could you graduate with?

  • Field Guide FGASA Level 1 Theory Exam
  • Field Guide FGASA Level 1 Practical Assessment
  • SASSETA Competency Certificate  Rifle
  • Advanced Rifle Handling
  • FGASA Trails Guide Back-Up
  • Birding with Lawson´s Birding Academy
  • Tracking (Level 1, 2 or 3)
  • Wilderness Medicine (Level 1 and 2) – First Aid

A few of the subjects covered on this course:

  • The Introduction to Guiding in the Natural Environment
  • Creating a Guided Nature Experience.
  • Basic Bush and Survival Skills.
  • Geology
  • Basic Ecology
  • Basic Taxonomy
  • Mammals
  • Entomology
  • Reptiles
  • Fish
  • Birds
  • Animal Behaviour
  • Trans frontier Parks and Biosphere Reserves
  • Historical Human Habitation

In addition to these subjects, you will also be taught the following:

  • Introduction to Eco Tourism
  • Planning of Game Drives and Walks
  • Dealing with Guests
  • Tracks and Tracking.
  • Approaching Dangerous Game Animals
  • The Game Drive Vehicle
  • Off-Road and 4×4 Driving
  • Night Drives

Lodge Experience:

Field Guide Course South Africa (6)As part of your year training, we will place you at a lodge in Southern Africa for a period of approximately 6 months. During your lodge placement you will be expected to carry out a wide variety of duties which may or may not include the following:

  • General Guiding Duties (can logged towards FGASA level 2 practical assessment)
  • Assisting in the bar, serving drinks, undertaking stock takes
  • Assist with meeting guest/s at meeting point/airport, carrying their luggage
  • Housekeeping
  • Maintenance
  • Reception duties
  • Food & Beverage duties

Certification and Accreditation

Field Guide Course South Africa (21)Our partners are a FGASA endorsed training provider who is accredited by THETA. This means our courses adhere to THETA standards. THETA is the Tourism and Hospitality and Sport Education Training Authority of the South African government. These are the two bodies responsible for regulating standards within the guide training industry in southern Africa.   For this course only, we will assist you by registering you for FGASA, THETA and eventually DEAT. Additional info on website

SASSETA  (Sector Education and Training Authority) – Due to the legal and professional requirements of being a Field Guide, there are certain steps that any student wishing to do firearms training is required to do. Additional info on website

PDP Public Drivers Permit  most lodges require that students have a PDP as this allows them to transport groups of people in a company vehicle. For this, students need to be 21 years or older. Additional info on website

DEAT  Department of Education and Tourism. We will assist with registering you for FGASA and once you have your Level 1, FGASA will automatically register you with THETA.   We will assist with your DEAT registration if you are 21 years or older.

Day to Day itinerary

Please find below a day to day itinerary, this is for the course starting in January, but it will be approximately the same for the other start dates.

Transfer from Emerald Backpackers to Nelspruit – time in Nelspruit, 3 days

  • FGASA Registration – Level 1
  • FGASA Registration – Trails Guide
  • SASSETA Firearm Competency Registration & Training
  • Course Questionnaire
  • DEAT registration
  • Accommodation in Nelspruit 2 Nights at Old Vic Travellers Inn

Transfer to Selati  – time in Selati, 30 days.

  • FGASA Field Guide Level 1 training, telemetry and 4WD no exams

Transfer to Karongwe – time in Karongwe, 57 days

  • FGASA Field Guide Level 1 additional training, 25 days
  • Basic Birding course – 7 days

OFF TIME 6 days   (make own travel arrangements)
(Please note off time travel & accommodation needs to be budgeted for and arranged by yourself. Please consider this in your financial planning.)

  • Animal Tracks and Tracking Course – 7 days
  • Navigation and Orientation – 7 days
  • Wilderness Medicine level One and Two  – 4 days
  • Karongwe, FGASA Level 1 Exam and Assessments – 7 days

OFF TIME 6 days   (make own travel arrangements)
(Please note off time travel & accommodation needs to be budgeted for and arranged by yourself. Please consider this in your financial planning.)

Transfer to Mashatu – time in Mashutu, 7 Days

  • Rifle Handling and Safety training

Transfer to Makuleke  – time in Mayu Makuleke, 49 days

  • Trails Guide course (FGASA exam and assessment) and Advanced Rifle Handling – 28 days

OFF TIME 6 days    (make own travel arrangements)
(Please note off time travel & accommodation needs to be budgeted for and arranged by yourself. Please consider this in your financial planning.)

  • Advanced Birding – 7 days
  • Consolidation – 5 days
  • Graduation – 3 days

(Each Student is allowed 2 guests for the Ceremony at an additional cost for the guests which will take place on the last two days of the course )

Final Day – Bush Bus Transfer from Makuleke to Emerald Backpackers

Frequently Asked Questions

These courses are not only available to people wishing to enter the industry as field guides, but for anyone who wants to increase their knowledge of the African Bush. So whether you have chosen a professional career linked to wildlife or nature or just finished school and are on a gap year, or if you have possibly taken a career break or are a regular traveller to the bush, this course is for you.
With our Field Guide Courses being endorsed by FGASA who have THETA accreditation, this means we meet THETA standards. THETA is the Tourism and Hospitality and Sport Education Training Authority of the South African government. These are the two bodies responsible for regulating standards within the guide training industry in southern Africa.
International or Non-South African Learners: If the learners is not taking up Field Guiding for a career which is mostly the case for our international learners, then he or she does not have to complete the FGASA component on the course. The learner however still has the opportunity to write the tests and practical evaluations and obtain a certificate..
There are four different camps. There is more information in the “Accommodation” section.

  • Kruger Park Makuleke
  • Karongwe Game Reserve
  • Selati Game Reserve
  • Mashatu Game Reserve

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  • Field Guide FGASA Level 1 Theory Exam
  • Field Guide FGASA Level 1 Practical Assessment
  • SASSETA Competency Certificate  Rifle
  • Advanced Rifle Handling
  • FGASA Trails Guide Back-Up
  • Birding with Lawson´s Birding Academy
  • Tracking (Level 1, 2 or 3)
  • Wilderness Medicine (Level 1 and 2) – First Aid

 

Normally you have about 5 to 6 Months lodge placement in your 1 year Field Guide course. The lodge placement starts after the trails guide qualification (after about 5 months of training). You come back to the camps after the lodge placement section to do an advance Birding and revision. You essentially use the lodge placement to work on your level 2 theory knowledge and to sharpen Birding knowledge prior to the advanced course.
The revision section enables you to rewrite sections that you may have failed during the year or to enable you to get assessed for sections you didn’t make previously.
It´s very difficult to estimate your expenditure during off time as it relates to your activities and travel. You might want to relax as the first free time you have is after 2 months!

The guys normally go to each others homes or travel together (I noticed this from experience trying to arrange activities for them). They take it easy during these times as our courses are full time, no other time off even during weekends the course runs 24/7 until off times.

So we don´t think you spend much over these periods, if you travel you tend to travel together (SA students normally use their own vehicles and club together) Or some stay at backpackers at low cost.   Don´t think you need more than R500 per day (about 40 gbp) (meals included, mostly they stay with SA families)!

Accommodation

Throughout the field guide course you will stay in tents, one camp has more luxury accommodation than another, but always clean running water and comfy beds! However don’t expect all the mod cons, electricity is only run with a generator occasionally so bring a good supply of batteries. the camp is open so animals can wander into the camp especially at night. There is a laundry service too.

The Training Camps

Located between the Limpopo and the Luvuvhu Rivers in the northern sector of Kruger National Park is the Pafuri region, an area spanning 24,000 hectares (59305 acres). Within the Pafuri area is the Makuleke Concession, the ancestral home of the Makuleke people and the most diverse and scenically attractive area in all of Kruger National Park. This area is off limits to your normal Kruger park tourist. The area belongs to the Makuleke community. This is quite a historical event for South Africa as the Makuleke people were removed from this area in 1968 and after a lengthy process it was finally re-instated to the community in 1998 after a very long struggle.

This area is certainly the wildest and most remote part of the Kruger National Park and offers varied vegetation, great wildlife viewing, the best birding in all of the Kruger National Park and is filled with folklore of the early explorers and ancient civilizations.

Accommodation:  Students are accommodated in comfortable thatched, tented rooms placed on wooden decks in the shade of large nyala trees. Each room has an en-suite bathroom consisting of a shower and washbasin with hot running water and a flush toilet and also has a veranda overlooking the surrounding bush.   The camp itself is not fenced which means that animals do move through the camp from time to time.

The central communal area: This area consists of a thatch-roofed open sided deck where all meals, lectures and studying takes place. A clearing for evening camp fires creates an idyllic setting for social and leisure time.

Electricity:   There is no electricity at the camp  paraffin lamps are used for all lighting and a generator is used to charge batteries. Studying at night with paraffin lanterns can at times be challenging so a headlamp for this purpose is recommended as well as an extra battery operated lamp if you wish to study in your tent at night. The generator is for camp use so will thus not be switched on for the sole purpose of charging learner cameras or other equipment. Learners are allowed to utilise it when it is running for camp purposes and need to understand that it is used at own risk.
Water: Fresh, drinkable water is available from the taps.

Our Selati Camp is situated on the banks of the Selati River in the 33 000 hectare (81545 acres) Selati Game Reserve to the west of the Kruger National Park.
Selati Game Reserve is a large undeveloped reserve with diverse topography and biodiversity. We are very fortunate to traverse over this vast area of wilderness during our courses. In the east there are large granite koppies (hills), where Black eagles and Klipspringers can be found. The dominant vegetation types are Combretum and Mopane woodland. This habitat is well suited to the large elephant and giraffe population
found there. The reserve is dissected by the Selati River which dries up in winter into large rocky pools of water. These pools are good places to view concentrations of birds and animals such as Nyala and Rhino.

There is a lot of space to conduct walks and get a true sense of wilderness. Special species occurring here include Sable Antelope and Eland. We are also able to visit the Sable breeding programme run by the management of the reserve.

Accommodation:  The camp consists of 10 simple dome tents, each with 2 mattresses with pillows (2 learners per tent).   There are shared bathroom facilities and a central communal area overlooking the Selati River.The central communal area: This area consists of a thatch-roofed open sided deck where all meals, lectures and studying takes place. A clearing for evening camp fires creates an idyllic setting for social and leisure time.

Electricity: There is no electricity at the camp  paraffin lamps are used for all lighting and a generator is used to charge camera batteries and cell phones for emergency use.

Our Mashatu Camp is located in the land of Giants in the Tuli reserve of Botswana bordering South Africa. Tuli forms a key part of the proposed Greater Mapungubwe Transfrontier Conservation Area. It is an area of outstanding natural beauty with majestic rocks, diverse vegetation, abundant wildlife, a profusion of birds and a rich archaeological heritage.

Beside elephant, lion, cheetah, leopard and hyena, general game such as giraffe, zebra, wildebeest, eland and a variety of antelope, and nocturnal species like springhares, bat eared fox, civet cat, genet cat, honey badger and mongoose, are prevalent throughout the reserve. The bird life is prolific with Mashatu Game Reserve recording over 366 different species. The 4-wheel drive safari vehicles enable the student to leave the road and provide guests with up close game viewing and fantastic photographic opportunities. Night drives, with the aid of powerful spotlights bring the bush to life.

Accommodation:  The camp consists of 10 simple dome tents, each with 2 mattresses with pillows (2 learners per tent). There are shared bathroom facilities and a central communal area overlooking the dry river bed.here is no electricity at the camp  paraffin lamps are used for all lighting and a generator is used to charge batteries. Studying at night with paraffin lanterns can at times be challenging so a headlamp for this purpose is recommended as well as an extra battery operated lamp if you wish to study in your tent at night.

The generator is for camp use so will thus not be switched on for the sole purpose of charging learner cameras or other equipment.Water: Fresh, drinkable water is available from the taps.

Duration Option Price  
28 (Days)USD 3499Book Now
12 (Month)One Year OptionUSD 18799Book Now

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Duration Option Price
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12 (Month)One Year OptionUSD 18799 USD 18423 (Early Bird)
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Book today with a deposit and travel after 15 - Oct - 2017 to lock in the early bird price. "Hurry only limited early bird spots available !"

Terms: $250 USD deposit required on booking. Full payment 12 weeks prior to trip start.

Included

  • Travel Advice prior to departure
  • Training by experienced field guides and instructors
  • Accommodation for one year
  • Transfers between the camps
  • All Meals
  • Game Drive
  • Walks and other activities like sleep outs etc.
  • Laundry
  • Certificates and registrations
  • SASSETA Competency Certification
  • 3 sets of uniforms
  • Tea and Coffee
  • Entry to Kruger park

75% is the success rate on succeeding the course

Excluded

  • All Flights
  • Extra Drinks (like beers, ciders and bottled water)
  • Costs for visa
  • Travel insurance
  • Accommodation before or after the course

Dates

2017

06 May – 02 June (Karongwe)
01 September – 28 September (Mashatu)

“It was just immense!”
Henry Thomas
“On patrol one morning we were walking through dense bull reeds in a dry river bed, it was so exciting we just did not know what could be in front of us. We emerged into a clearing to see a full grow Bull Elephant in musk! He let out this huge sound and took off in the other direction. My heart was beating so loud it was one of the most incredible experiences of my life!”
Olivia Wilkinson
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