Prior to departure to Africa
The most important thing is to be interested in nature and to be willing to learn more about Kenya’s magical flora and fauna. Moreover, you need to be at least 18 years old, possess a valid driver’s license and have sufficient English skills to be able to communicate with others and to understand the instructions of your guide.
Furthermore, you need to attend a first-aid course before coming on the Apprentice Field Guide course in Kenya. First aid is generic worldwide. FGASA will only issue your FGASA Apprentice Field Guide NQF2 certificate if you have a valid first aid qualification.
Since Kenya’s climate can sometimes be extreme and daily activities may be demanding, it is very important to be physically fit. We therefore ask you to hand in a doctor’s certificate about your state of health and your vaccination record. Don’t forget to obtain travel health insurance for the duration of the course.
You might also need a visa for your journey. Depending on the duration of your stay and your destination the requirements might vary. You should check out your country’s foreign department’s website for the visa standards or contact our team at Natucate.
Prior to your departure we will support you during your preparation: we’ll help you find suitable travel insurance, assist with finding a good flight and how to deal with your visa application.
Furthermore, there will be professional instructors supporting you and guiding the team. FGASA and exam fees, transportation within the course (if camp change takes place) as well as the pick-up from the meeting point to camp is also included.
Moreover, your accommodation and food will be provided. Furthermore, you can contact the Natucate team 24/7 during your stay.
Depending on where you travel from, you do not need special vaccination. If you are travelling from a country where Yellow Fever is present you will need to prove you have had the inoculation.
In any case, we recommend making sure that you are vaccinated against tetanus, diphtheria, polio, pertussis, measles, mumps, and rubella before departing to Kenya. Moreover, you should pack special medication you need as health care in the country may not be sufficient.
You should also consider vaccination for hepatitis A and if you want to stay longer even hepatitis B, typhoid, rabies, and COVID-19. Note: In Kenya infectious diseases like malaria are common and you should consider taking medication as a prophylactic measure.
Please consult your doctor about possible dangers, vaccinations, and protection measures around three months before your departure to Africa. Moreover, you should check out the website of your country’s Federal Foreign Office to get information about possible travel and safety advice.
Last but not least, travel health insurance coverage is compulsory when participating in any of our courses.
You need to pack outdoor clothing like hiking boots/appropriate walking shoes, long light pants, and something to cover your head to protect it from the sun. Please make sure that your clothes fit the colours of the environment (khaki, brown, grey, green). It is also advisable to pack some warmer clothes for the nights/for temperature variations. Don’t forget to take sunscreen, insect repellent, a water bottle, writing utensils, a daypack, binoculars, and a torch with you.
You shouldn’t bring too many 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.
We will provide you with a detailed packing list before the course starts.
In order to get well prepared for your course we recommend taking a closer look at the following books (in English):
- Helfer Herbert, Tana: A Safari Guide To Kenya
- Dharani, Najma: Common Trees and Shrubs of East Africa (3rd Edition)
- Stuart, Chris; Stuart, Mathilde: Field Guide to the Mammals of Africa
- Rozwadowski, Bogdan; Rozwadowski, Stefan: The East African Safari Quiz Book
- Stevenson, Terry; Fanshawe, John: Birds of East Africa (2nd Edition) (Android & iOS smartphone app also available and highly recommended)
- Emmet, Megan; Patrick, Sean: Game Ranger in your Backpack
- Lonely Planet of Kenya
We will provide you with a more detailed book list before the course starts.
We recommend you booking travel cancellation insurance, in case you can’t attend the course. There are also options for insurances if you have to quit your stay earlier.
Arrival in Kenya
Please arrange your flight to Nairobi, the capital of Kenya. We will support you in finding a good flight, but you need to take care of the actual booking yourself. You should arrive in Nairobi one day prior to the official start of the course and spend one night in the city. We recommend Wildebeest EcoCamp as this is also the official meeting point from which you and the other course participants are picked up and taken to your camp the next morning.
During the Apprentice Field Guide course
Nature determines the daily routine. You will get up with the sun to go on your first excursion of the day (game drive or game walk). For lunch you return to camp, eat together with your group and join classroom lessons. Afterwards, you will have some time off to discuss learn material and relax. In the afternoon, after some coffee and tea, you will go on your second bush excursion. You will retreat to your camp at sunset. Depending on the course you will deal with all kinds of topics regarding safaris, conservation, animal protection, trailing and tracking.
Note: The course is always subject to fluctuations and cannot be precisely determined. The time that a camp change takes place is dependent on many different factors like the start date of the course or other spontaneous reasons. Furthermore, activities – especially additional activities like night drives or sleepouts in the wilderness – always depend on the area of operation, the season, weather, and the start point of the course. Participants must also assume that significantly less activities take place during exams.
Usually, up to 18 participants plus staff members will be accommodated in the camp. Course activities will be conducted in sub-groups plus staff members.
Life on site in Kenya
Yes, in general it is possible to get accommodated with a travel partner. Please make sure to inform us on time.
You will be provided with three to four balanced meals per day. In general, food is very tasty and good. The menu may repeat weekly but will always be freshly prepared. You will enjoy meals together with the other participants in the camp’s dining hall. You will also receive snacks, water, coffee and tea all day long. If you like, you can purchase extra drinks or snacks on site.
Vegetarian, vegan, gluten-, lactose- and soy-free food is available and well-implemented. Please inform us early enough so our team on site has enough time for arrangements.
During the Apprentice Field Guide course you will have some spare time on the weekend or in the afternoon. You will also have individual off-days during the course.
You can use your free time to connect with other participants, to relax, or to study. Mara Camp also has a library where you can borrow some books. It is up to you how to plan your free time. On longer terms, you can also undertake excursions.
The team on site will always support you, answer your questions and help you with any kind of problem. Furthermore, Natucate offers a 24/7 emergency service.
Travellers’ cheques can only be cashed in Nairobi. Visa entry fees are best paid in US$. Local purchases must be made in Kenyan Shilling which are easily obtainable at currency exchange bureaus at the airport or on the way through town but not near camp. There are no ATM or credit card facilities close by.
You can exchange and withdraw cash easily in cities or at the airport (look for ATMs). You should make sure you can withdraw money with your bank card in foreign countries before coming to Kenya.
The camp can accept either US$ or Kenyan Shilling. Food, accommodation, and transport is taken care of, but you will need extra money for external transfers, optional excursions, tips, additional snacks and beverages, laundry fees, or souvenirs. To give you a first idea of the costs for drinks and optional excursions
- Beer: 300 shillings
- Soda: 100 shillings
- Glass of wine: 200 shillings
- Gin Tonic: 400 shillings
- Excursion to Mara Triangle: 80 USD
- Camping in the Triangle: 20 USD
- Excursion to Rhino Sanctuary: 10 USD
- Village visit: 20 USD
- Market visit: amount depends on individual
- Expected tip for staff: approx. 120 USD per participant
As an approximate measure, we recommend a total of 500 USD pp on site for your stay in the course.
Also for emergencies we advise you to take some cash with you, although especially in cities you shouldn’t carry around too much money with you.
Kenya has a well-established cellular network with different suppliers. You can buy a prepaid Safaricom sim card at the airport (top up airtime can be purchased at the airport and or on route to the camp). The Mara Training Centre has good coverage in some places and airtime is very affordable. However, you should inform your family and friends about possibly not being within reach for some time. For emergencies, Mara Camp is equipped with a satellite phone.
The climate is pleasantly warm, with cool nights, all year round. The area is located just south of the equator, but at an altitude between 1,500 and 1,900 m. The temperatures are slightly higher from October to March, while they are slightly cooler from June to August. At night it can be a little cold, and the temperatures can drop below 10°C, especially from June to August.
All in all, the days are usually hot and dry and the nights quite cool. Clothing should be light for the day and warm for the evening game drives and sundowners followed by the night game drive home.
When living and moving around in the African wilderness, you always need to pay attention and be aware of certain risks. An experienced guide will always be with you and your group and will of course communicate when you need to be extra cautious.
In general, there is no reason to be too worried. Dangerous or poisonous animals don’t often come too close to humans and only show aggressive behaviour when being attacked. In any case: It is highly important that you listen to your guide’s instructions and follow the rules.
Yes, in any case you will get a confirmation of participation for the course. If you decide to obtain a qualification and successfully complete the exam at the end of the course, you will also receive an approved FGASA certificate (Apprentice Field Guide / FGASA NQF2).
Yes, absolutely. Participating in the Kenya Apprentice Field Guide course is for personal enrichment and education and does not obligate you to receive a professional qualification.
All you need to know about FGASA
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.
The Apprentice Field Guide course, formerly called Field Guide Level 1 course, offers you a quick and concise nature training. The course trains participants to achieve the FGASA Apprentice Field Guide NQF2 qualification, as well as several specialized qualifications and modules such as Tracking, Basic Birding and Navigation & Orientations. The official FGASA certificate allows you to work as a guide in Southern Africa.
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.
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. Handling a rifle won’t be part of your Apprentice Field Guide course, though.