Become an ambassador of nature

Field Guide Training

If spending your days observing wild animals and your nights sitting around a campfire sounds like your dream job – if you’re passionate about wildlife, conservation, and adventure – then you’ve come to the right place.

Join our sister company Bushwise at our field guide training campuses in the heart of the African bushveld. 

Bushwise is a Field Guides Association of Southern Africa (FGASA) endorsed training provider with the highest success rate in the FGASA exams, and with the most sought-after graduates in the industry. All Bushwise courses and internships have been set up by expert trainers and practitioners with extensive knowledge and experience in the field: in program logistics, field guiding and the ecotourism industry.

Critical science

Critical science

You'll contribute to vital conservation research targeted at protecting the earth's most valuable ecosystems.
Ethical engagement

Ethical engagement

Using the UN's SDGs as a framework, we've made a commitment to positive, constructive and sustainable impact.
Beautiful adventures

Beautiful adventures

You'll spend your days exploring some of the world's most breathtaking, exhilarating and remote wildernesses.

What is field guide training all about?

Overview
Our courses
Campus locations
The Bushwise story

What is a field guide?

The term field guide is often used interchangeably with safari guide. Field guides act as interpreters of the natural world, sharing their knowledge and skills with guests visiting game reserves and national parks. One of the most common images of a field guide is a person in khaki uniform, driving an open safari vehicle through the African bushveld. This is a career that allows you to spend most of your time outside, continually observing and learning more about wildlife and natural spaces.

Being a field guide is largely about guiding and interacting with people from all over the world, sharing information and interpreting the wildlife conservation sector, while keeping ethical practices in mind at all times. A field guide also specialises in things like:

  • Species identification
  • Track and sign
  • Animal behaviour
  • 4×4 driving
  • Advanced rifle handling

In many cases, field guides also assist game rangers with their tasks – providing additional support and helping to maintain the natural environment. This career offers endless possibilities and opportunities for growth. By starting your field guide career with Bushwise, you’ll be on the best path possible!

Why train with GVI and Bushwise?

Bushwise has built up a reputation as a leading field guide training provider. Our courses are the most comprehensive field guide training courses available. We go beyond the books to provide our students with the best education and practical experience possible. This ensures our students land the best jobs in the future. Our team understands how competitive the industry is becoming, which is why we’re proud of the comprehensive courses we’ve developed. 

Our students also continually receive high pass rates on their FGASA exams. This is supported by one-on-one attention and personalised guidance given to every student.

Bushwise is also the only field guide training provider who offers an employment guarantee. We guarantee a permanent position offer within six months of graduation, including positions like field guide, junior reserve assistant and conservationist. This applies to our South African students completing the 50-week Professional Field Guide course. 

Bushwise currently offers two different courses for in-person field guide training. 

The first is our flagship course: our 23- or 50-week Bushwise Professional Field Guide course. This is a truly immersive experience in the African bush. You’ll be exposed to the knowledge and skills needed to become a successful field guide, including all essential FGASA modules and more. Qualifications you can earn on this course include:

  • CATHSSETA Nature Site Guide (NQF2) 
  • FGASA NQF2 Apprentice Field Guide 
  • Bushwise Professional Field Guide
  • FGASA Apprentice Trails Guide knowledge (practical is an add-on)
  • SASSETA Firearm Proficiency
  • Advanced Rifle Handling
  • Wilderness First Aid certificate
  • Reptile Handling certificate
  • CyberTracker Track and Sign and Trailing

The 50-week option includes a 6-month placement (apprenticeship) after the 23-week training program. This provides students with essential on-the-job training and the experience needed to enter this competitive industry. The Professional Field Guide Course includes a guaranteed job offer for South African students.

Our second course, the Bushwise 60-day Safari Guide course, is a condensed version of our flagship program. This is a great option for anyone who is interested in exploring a career in wildlife, conservation or ecotourism, but doesn’t have the time or funding to join our longer professional course. In just two months, you can earn the following qualifications:

  • CATHSSETA Nature Site Guide (NQF2) 
  • FGASA NQF2 Apprentice Field Guide 
  • Bushwise Safari Guide
  • Wilderness First Aid certificate
  • Reptile Handling certificate
  • CyberTracker Track and Sign

These courses were created to develop students into highly-skilled professionals in the areas of field guiding, conservation, research, adventure tourism or lodge management. We provide a well-rounded, specialised education which focuses on the theoretical and practical aspects of wildlife conservation and guiding. The curriculum also includes practical application of subjects such as conservation, ecology, reserve management, geology and animal behaviour.

GVI offers FGASA-accredited programs on our two Bushwise campuses, Mahlahla and Kempiana. Both campuses are located near Big Five game reserves, and within a short drive from the renowned Kruger National Park. 

The Bushwise campuses include comfortable accommodation in either rondavels (huts), lodge-style rooms or safari tents, with en suite bathrooms. Students have access to shared facilities including classrooms, swimming pools, gym equipment, a library, and walking/running trails. Free WiFi is available – you can stay in touch with friends and family and supplement your studies with additional research. The campuses are held within electric fences so you’re safe to explore. Morning game drives depart directly from campus and within minutes you’re in dangerous game territory. It’s a thrilling place to live and learn!

A typical course day will include one or two game drives. You might see:

  • Lion
  • Leopard
  • Elephant
  • Rhino
  • Buffalo
  • Cheetah
  • Wild dog
  • Hundreds of bird species

On the 23- and 50-week courses, students will enjoy a week of time off between each semester. This gives you the opportunity to travel to nearby attractions, including the Kruger National Park, Blyde River Canyon, Magoebaskloof Forest, Mariepskop, Dullstroom, and much more. 

Co-founder Sophie Niemann joined GVI in its infancy, where she set up and ran the GVI Karongwe Wildlife Expedition. Back then, GVI consisted only of Sophie and the founder of GVI, Richard Walton, who ran the office in the UK. As GVI grew Sophie went on to set up and run wildlife and community conservation programs across Africa. These included predator projects in Venetia, South Africa, community and marine conservation programs in Kenya, and SANParks internship programs, to name a few.

During her eight years as Regional Director for GVI, she found it a constant battle to find staff members with the qualifications, skills, and ethical professionalism GVI required. There was clearly a great need to assist young passionate conservationists and wildlife enthusiasts in getting these skills and qualifications to start their career. So, Richard and Sophie embarked on setting up Bushwise Field Guides. Their vision was to develop a high-quality, all-inclusive training course which offered a platform for students to gain the relevant qualifications, practical experience and soft skills.

Bushwise ran its first course back in 2006 at Mahlahla campus. Looking back to the early days, Bushwise’s ethos and vision has remained the same, but the program has evolved tremendously. Over the years we have focused our attention on our FGASA field guide and safari guide courses, which provide the best platform to gain the quantity and quality of knowledge and skills needed. We work closely with lodges to develop and tweak the program as the industry changes, ensuring our students gain experience that benefits their careers and adhere to the lodges’ standards. We have added numerous qualifications, fine-tuned the training, refined our soft skills development, and built an exceptional Bushwise team.

Bushwise continues to work proactively with key players in this ever-changing industry, to ensure our courses are the most relevant and of the highest standard. We also guarantee that our graduates are of the highest standard possible. Not only do we have lasting relationships with our alumni, we also constantly build upon and improve our courses to enhance the value we offer our students.

We hope to welcome you on a Bushwise course soon!

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