Prior to arrival in Botswana
In order to join the course, you need to be at least 18 years old, possess a valid driver’s license, and have solid English skills, so you can communicate with your team and understand all instructions.
If you want to obtain a FGASA qualification, a valid and recent first-aid certificate is also necessary for the course. If you are striving for the FGASA qualification, you must have successfully completed the Apprentice Field Guide NQF2 qualification before.
It is also important to be physically fit, as there will be lots of game walks and temperatures can get very high at times. We will therefore ask you to hand in a doctor’s certificate confirming your state of health. Moreover, travel health insurance for the duration of the course is obligatory.
Last but not least, your curiosity and motivation to learn as well as your interest in African nature are essential.
For questions concerning visa requirements, you should consult the website of your country’s Federal Foreign Office or contact the Natucate team.
Prior to your guide adventure, we discuss your trip in detail and give you advice on how to plan your trip.
Once you arrived in Maun, our partner will pick you up at the airport and take you to your camp. After the course has ended, a transfer for the way back to the airport will be organized as well. During the course, you will sleep in your own dome tent and receive three meals per day including water, coffee, and tea. During the course there will be excursions, game walks as well as game drives on a regular basis – the training sessions and Advanced Rifle Handling lectures are also included in the price.
FGASA/BQA registration/exam fees and costs for flights, travel insurances, visa, ammunition, additional drinks/beverages, tips, and extra excursions are not included.
Please note that theory lessons (except for Advanced Rifle Handling) are not included in the price either.
If you don’t come from a country where Yellow Fever is present, you do not need special vaccination. However, it is always recommended to make sure to be vaccinated against tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis, measles, mumps, and rubella before every journey. Moreover, you should take the medication you need with you, as healthcare in Botswana may not be sufficient.
You should also consider vaccination for hepatitis A and if you want to stay longer even hepatitis B, typhus, and rabies. Furthermore, please consider getting vaccinated against Covid-19.
In Botswana, infectious diseases like malaria are common and you should consider taking medication as a prophylactic measure.
Around three months prior to your departure you should consult your doctor concerning possible dangers, vaccinations, and protection measures. Moreover, you should consult the website of your country’s Federal Foreign Office to get information about the latest travel and safety advice.
Last but not least, travel health insurance is obligatory when participating in the course.
You should pack waterproof clothes, sturdy boots, long and light trousers as well as a hat and enough sunscreen for daily excursions.
Since it can get cold during the nights and in the morning, you should take longer clothes with you. Please make sure to bring clothes in “bush colours”: To blend in the landscape, colours like beige, khaki, and ochre are perfect.
A pair of binoculars is necessary for the time of the course, and you should also bring your driver’s license (if you have one), a bottle, a day pack, insect repellant, and a headlamp.
You will receive a detailed packing list after booking.
While Camp Kwapa has a comprehensive library you may want to bring a small choice out of the following books:
- Stuart, Chris; Stuart, Mathilde: Field Guide to Mammals of Southern Africa
- Newman, Kenneth: Newman’s Birds of Southern Africa
- van Wyk, Bram; van Wyk, Piet: Field Guide to Trees of Southern Africa
- Hancock, Pete: Birds of Southern Africa
- Roodt, Veronica: Trees of the Okavango
- Roodt, Veronica: Wildflowers of the Okavango
- Gutteridge, Lee; Reumerman, Tony: Okavango Field Guide
- du Preez, Louis; Carruthers, Vincent: Frogs of Southern Africa – A Complete Guide
- Skelton, Paul; Bruton, Mike; Merron, Glenn: Fishes of the Okavango and Chobe River, Botswana
- Alexander, Graham; Marais, Johan: A Guide to the Reptiles of Southern Africa
- Main, Michael: Kalahari
Recommended apps are:
- Avenza Maps
- Botswana Wildlife (only for Apple so far)
- Pocket Universe
- Robert’s Birds
- Stuart’s Mammals
- E-Trees of Southern Africa
- Frogs of Southern Africa
- Insects of South Africa
- E-Snakes of Southern Africa
Booking travel cancellation insurance beforehand is recommended in case you can’t attend the course. There are also options for insurances if you have to quit your stay earlier.
Arrival in Botswana
The course usually starts on a Friday. That day you should arrive at Maun Airport where you will be picked up by a team member at 02:00 PM across the airport. You will then be transferred to Camp Kwapa in the southern Okavango Delta. We will give you information concerning your flight to Maun Airport but you need to book the flights on your own.
During the Trails Guide course
After your arrival in camp, there will be a short introduction and you will have time to make yourself comfortable. In the afternoon you will head off to your first game walk in the African bush. In the evening you will return to camp and have dinner at the campfire.
The following days start very early with another bush walk, before you will return to camp to avoid the midday heat and have a small lunch. In the afternoon you will first have a classroom session and broaden your theoretical guide knowledge before going on another excursion.
You will return to camp at dinnertime. After dinner, you can enjoy some free time in the camp. The courses always provide a mixture of theoretical and practical units.
Part of the Trails Guide experience involves an Advanced Rifle Handling Course (ARH) which will be conducted at the NG30 concession (Kwapa) borders as part of the Trail Guide Course. You will go there for training sessions twice a week.
Note: Excursions are done mostly by foot, but also in vehicles, in motorboats and dug-out canoes called mokoros. Students are responsible for leading walks, poling the mokoro, and conducting game drives. The ratio of mokoro, boat, driving, and walking will be greatly dependent on water levels at the time. The preparation and completion of these above activities are also the students’ responsibility as they would be if guiding a safari.
The course is modular, enabling you to join the course for two or four weeks.
A group includes 8-9 persons at maximum. There may be two groups at a time in camp.
Life on site in Botswana
In general, it is possible to share an accommodation. We kindly ask you to inform us well in advance so the team can prepare your room accordingly.
During your time in the camp, you will be served three meals a day with typical local ingredients.
For breakfast, you will usually be served an option of rusks, toast (with various spreads), porridge, yogurt, and cereals. Lunch is served around 12:00 noon and consists of a hot dish with fresh baked bread and salads/vegetables. For dinner, you will have a hot meat dish with starch and either salad or vegetables. Simple snacks like crisps and peanuts with raisins will be available for students to take on excursions. Throughout the day you can drink water, tea, or coffee, or if you would like to drink something else, you can purchase other beverages in the camp.
If you wish to drink something besides the “typical” soft drinks or alcohol, please let us know before your departure as the team can organize it in advance. Moreover, please also inform us about special dietary needs the team on site needs to prepare for that as well.
With a notice ahead it is possible to follow a vegetarian diet during the time of your course.
Other diets (vegan, gluten-free) are possible as well but due to the logistical challenges, an extra fee is required.
After returning back to camp in the later afternoon you can use the rest of the day for your own activities.
Spend time talking to other course students, play games or simply enjoy the surrounding nature. Camp Kwapa also has an own little library to borrow books from.
There will always be staff members on site who will help you with questions and problems. You can also contact the Natucate team 24/7.
The currency in Botswana is Pula. There is no ATM in the camp, so you should bring enough cash for the duration of your stay (either in Pula, Euro or US Dollar).
In order to get cash, you can either exchange it in a local bank or at the airport in Johannesburg, or bring a credit card with you to draw money from an ATM in Maun. Don’t forget to check with your bank if your credit card works in Botswana.
Please plan to bring cash for extra drinks (need to be purchased in a sixpack) and snacks, ammunition (around 300 US$ in total), staff tips (if you want) and an emergency.
All participants should be prepared to have little to no cellphone reception and no internet connection during the course. You can use the time in Maun after your arrival and before your departure to contact your family and friends.
Camp Kwapa is located in the subtropical area of Southern Africa which means that it is generally very hot during the daytime in Botswana’s summer months (mid-September to April). In the evening it cools down but nights are still warm. Due to occasional rain falls during the summer months (mostly in the afternoon) we recommend knee-long raincoats for your stay in summer.
During winter (May to August), temperatures can drop to 0°C and rise to about 25°C during the day. You should prepare for those temperature fluctuations by dressing in layers.
Living in the African wilderness always requires awareness and attention.
Camp Kwapa is unfenced meaning that animals may wander through the camp. Many of them are potentially dangerous if they feel threatened. Although attacks from wild animals are very rare in Botswana, there is always a certain risk.
Please always listen to and follow the rules of the camp staff and instructors. The safety precautions need to be taken seriously, and strictly adhered to. As with any area with its dangers, through appropriate behaviour risk can be reduced. All students will be expected to sign an indemnity form.
Students seeking to do the course for personal enrichment rather than pursuing a formal qualification to become a guide will receive a certificate of participation upon course completion. Important note: As an enrichment student you are expected to participate as a trainee guide and part of the team.
Those who are seeking professional qualification, can obtain the following:
- Apprentice Trails Guide (NQF2)
- FGASA Advanced Rifle Handling
- AGA Back-Up Trails Guide
Yes, absolutely. It is up to you whether you plan to obtain a professional qualification or if you participate in the course for personal enrichment and education.
About FGASA and BQA
FGASA is short for “Field Guides Association of Southern Africa”. Together with CATHSSETA (Culture, Arts, Tourism and Hospitality Sector Education Training Authority) it is the body for regulating the standard of guiding in South Africa. This course is a FGASA-endorsed training programme.
BQA is the Botswana Qualifications Authority; the Botswana Training Authority exam is the national guiding qualification for Botswana.
Before attending the course, you need to register online as a new member on the FGASA website: making sure to follow all the required steps for registration.
Look for it under the MEMBERSHIP “dropdown box”. Make sure you use the correct form depending on where you are from: either a South African, from Sub-Saharan Africa, or an International learner from another country.
On successful completion of the application and payment of relevant fees you will receive:
- The Level 1 learner support manual pack, workbook, and assessment sheets
- The nature guide learning manual
- The guiding skills manual
- (A guiding logbook (will be received in camp))
Fees can be paid directly into the FGASA bank account – more Information on the FGASA website.
Registration with CATHSSETA will only be necessary if you plan to actually work in Southern Africa as a guide in the future. If this is the case, we will advise you further.
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.