Wilderness Experience FAQ
Field Guide Training
Wilderness Experience Courses

Nature training in Southern Africa

Prior to departure

Do I need specific requirements or abilities to apply for this project?

In order to apply for this project you need to be 18 years or older and have sufficient English skills to participate within the course. Furthermore you should be physically fit; therefore we need a doctor’s certificate about your state of health and your vaccination record. If you apply for Trails Guide or Field Guide Level 1 you will need a first aid certificate as well. You might need a visa for your journey. Depending on the duration of your stay and your destination the requirements might vary. You should check out the foreign department’s website for the visa standards or ask the NATUCATE team directly.

What services are included?

Prior to your departure we will support you during your preparation and help you to find some travel insurance. Furthermore there will be professional instructors supporting you and guiding the team. We will also help you find a good flight and how to deal with your visa application. Transportation within the project as well as the pick up from the airport is also included. Furthermore your accommodation and food will be provided. You can always contact us during your stay.

Do I need certain medical precautions or requirements?

In general you need to talk to your doctor and see what vaccinations he suggests. It is advised to be vaccinated against Diphtheria, Morbilli, Mumps and Rubella (MMR). In case of injuries it is also advised to be vaccinated against Tetanus. Since Southern Africa is affected by malaria you should also think about prevention medications and/or standby emergency malaria treatments. For current information and warnings regarding your destination you should check out the homepage of the foreign department. You definitely need a travel insurance to start your volunteering work with NATUCATE. We can help you find something for you. Let us know if you have any kind of allergies, so we can inform our partner.

What kind of equipment should I (not) take with me?

You will be spending a lot of time outside – that’s why you will need outdoor clothing like hiking boots, long light pants for every day and a head gear. You clothes should be hold in darker, unobtrusive colors (grey, khaki, brown, green). It is also advisable to pack some warmer clothes for the nights. Furthermore you should bring sunscreen, insect repellent, a water bottle and a sketch pad. Please make sure to only bring the most necessary valuables with you – on the one hand because of the risk of damage, on the other hand because of the risk of theft at the airport or in large cities.

Which books are suitable for getting prepared?

In order to get well prepared for your course we recommend taking a closer look at the following books (in English):

Emmet, Megan; Patrick, Sean: Game Ranger in your Backpack

Sinclair, Ian; Hockey, Phil; Tarboton, Warwick: Sasol Birds of Southern Africa

Estes, Richard: The Behaviour Guide to African Mammals

van Wyk, Braam; van Wyk, Piet: Field Guide to Trees of Southern Africa

Liebenberg, Louis: Photographic guide to Tracks and Tracking of Southern Africa

Can I back out of the project?

We advise you to book a travel cancelation insurance, in case you can’t attend the project. There are also options for insurances if you have to quit your stay earlier.

Arrival

How do I arrive at my destination, do I have to organize it myself?

We will support you during your organization and planning process, but you need to book your flight on you own. We suggest you to arrange flights to Johannesburg (OR Tambo International Airport). From there on you are welcome to make use of your own Bush Bus transfer service, which runs between Johannesburg and our four camps in Southern Africa. Alternatively, you can also choose to book a connecting flight to smaller airports near to our camps (Hoedspruit Airport for Karongwe and Selati Camp/Polokwane Airport for Mashatu or Makuleke Camp) and get with private transfer to the camp meeting point (arrival).

During the course

What is the structure of an average day in the course?

The daily routine is determined by the nature. You will rise with the sun and undertake about two daily excursions into the bush. Around the midday heat you will have some time off to discuss learn material, relax and have something to eat. You will retreat to your camp when the dawn breaks in. Depending on the course you will deal with all kinds of topics regarding safaris, conservation, animal protection, trailing and tracking.

How big is the group?

The camps can hold a maximum of 19 participants. Every course will be divided into groups of 9 participants.

Life on site

What is the accommodation like?

You accommodation depends on the project. Most of the time you will stay in tents or little cabins that you share with other participants. The accommodations are simple but comfortable. Most of them consist of a common space for bonfires and spare time activities. You can find more information about the housing by visiting the camp informaiton site on our webpage:

Camp Mashatu (Botswana)

Camp Borana (Kenya)

Camp Mara (Kenya)

Camp Victoria Falls (Zimbabwe)

Camp Karongwe (South Africa)

Camp Makuleke (South Africa)

Camp Selati (South Africa)

Is it possible to get placed with a partner or friend?

Yes, every camp allows a travel partner; make sure to inform us on time.

How is the food provided?

You will be provided with three balanced meals daily. You will dine together with the other participants in the dining hall. There will also be snacks, water, coffee and tea available. If you want you can purchase soda drinks or candy extra.

Is it possible to receive vegetarian meals?

The food is balanced enough to realize a vegetarian diet. A vegan or gluten free diet is not easily possible. You should inform us beforehand.

How are work time and free time divided?

The spare time depends on the length of the course. The longer the courses are, the longer your spare time will be. Sometime you get a whole week off. The shorter courses only have some spare time on the weekend or in the afternoon. You can always ask us about the current time schedule of your course.

How can I spend my free time?

You can use your spare time to connect with other participants, rest a little bit or use the time for some study session. Some camps have a library, table tennis or volley ball courts. You can plan your free time individually. On longer terms you can also undertake field trips or visit cities nearby the camp.

Do I have a contact person on site?

The team on site will always be at the farm and can answer your questions. They will be responsible for you and help you with any kind of problem.

What kind of cost do I have to expect during the project? Can I withdraw cash on site and do I have to pay in local currency?

In general there won’t be a lot of expenses for you during the project, since food, accommodation and transport is taken care off. You might need extra money for external transfers, additional snacks and beverages or souvenirs. Only in Zimbabwe you will need money to pay the FGASA fees. You can exchange and withdraw cash easily at the airport. You can also find ATMs in most of the cities. You should make sure you can withdraw money with your bank card in foreign countries before coming to India. For emergencies we advise you to take some cash with you, but especially in cities you shouldn’t carry around too much money.

How can I contact family and friends at home?

In general the camps are located isolated and you will only have limited telephone reception. There will be smaller trips to other camps or smaller towns where you will get the chance to use the internet or make a phone call. Let your family and friends know that you won’t be within reach for some time. For emergencies the camps possess a satellite phone.

What’s the weather like?

For detailed information about the weather conditions of your chosen location check out our country information page. The weather in Botswana and South Africa is usually quite warm with temperature above 28°C. Still, the nights can get very cold and you can also be surprise by a great amount of precipitation.

Do I have to regard any specific security measurements?

In the wilderness you always have to pay attention and be aware of possible risks. The group instructors know what to do and when you need to be extra cautious. In general you don’t have to worry too much. Dangerous or poisonous animals don’t often come to close to humans and only react aggressive when they are being attacked. It is still important that you listen to their instructions and follow the rules.

Will I receive a certificate after completing the course?

Yes, you will always get a confirmation of participation for the course and after successfully completing the exam at the end you will also receive an approved FGASA certificate.

Can I take part in the course even though I do not want to receive a qualification?

Yes, of course you can. Participating in this course is for personal enrichment and education and does not obligate you to receive a professional qualification.

All you need to know about FGASA

What is FGASA?

FGASA is the Field Guides Association of Southern Africa. Together with CATHESSETA (Culture, Arts, Tourism and Hospitality Sector Education Training Authority) it is the body for regulating the standard of guiding in South Africa. The Wilderness Experience courses are FGASA-endorses training programs.

Why should I do the Professional Field Guide course?

The highly successful one-year Professional Field Guide course trains participates to achieve the FGASA Level 1 and FGASA Trails Guide Back-up qualification, as well as several specialized qualifications and modules such as Tracking, Basic Birding, Advanced Birding, Navigation & Orientations as well as Advanced Rifle Handling. The Certificate also includes the Rifle Firearm Proficiency and Wilderness Medicine Level 1 & 2. You will also get practical experience from the lodge placement program.

Where will my FGASA certificate allow me to work? What are my career chances?

Many countries throughout Africa do not have guiding authorities of their own (such as FGASA in South Africa, BOTA in Botswana and KPSGA in Kenya). As a result FGASA qualifications will hold some merit. In general, finding a job as a safari guide/ranger can be quite difficult for non-natives, but not impossible. After successfully completing the training you need to be offered a job before you can apply for a work visa. You will need to approach the relevant country's department of tourism/wildlife to determine the exact requirements to legally guide in a specific region. A guiding license may be required and this will need to be applied for.

Do I need a PFTC certificate to handle a rifle while on course?

You will require a firearm proficiency certificate, issued by a PFTC-accredited training provider, in order to handle a rifle while on course. We request this certificate specifically for the Trails Guide. If you are an international participant, we suggest you to fly a couple of days prior to your course and arrange this while in Johannesburg, before your scheduled transfer brings you to the camp. We can put you in contact with a relevant contact provider.

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