Guide Course South Africa: Eastern Cape Marine Guide
If you are a nature and marine life enthusiast, curious about Africa’s incredible biodiversity and maybe even hold a field guide qualification, this course is an incomparable opportunity for you to learn more about the coastal-marine environment of South Africa!
In fact, you have two different options: If want to gain basic field guide knowledge beforehand, you can take part in the 6-months course which includes a 10-week Apprentice Field Guide as well as a 7-week Apprentice Trails Guide training before the focus is put on South Africa’s marine environment. If you want to focus on marine life immediately, though, then the 4-week Marine Guide Specialization Course might be just right for you.
No matter which course you join – you will always be instructed by long-term experienced trainers who will equip you with fundamental theoretical and practical knowledge as part of various classroom units and wilderness excursions. At the end of your training you will furthermore have the chance to obtain an official FGASA certificate. Experience the flora and fauna of the Eastern Cape’s magnificent Sunshine Coast and enjoy a life-enhancing educational adventure.
- Get to know the Eastern Cape’s magnificent Sunshine Coast
- Broaden your knowledge about South Africa’s coastal and marine life
- Observe an abundance of wild animals in their natural habitat
- Learn how to conduct safari tours in a coastal-marine environment
- Benefit from the expertise of long-term experienced guides
- Receive an official FGASA certificate at the end of the course
Marine Guide in South Africa
When joining our Marine Guide training course in South Africa, you get to know the Eastern Cape’s magnificent marine biodiversity and acquire essential skills and know-how to be able to conduct coastal-marine visitor tours. At the end of the course you have the chance to receive an official FGASA certificate.
Arrival and orientation in South Africa
Port Elizabeth will be your airport of arrival and departure. Please arrive one day before the course begins. Our partner’s transfer service will pick you up at 01:00 PM and take you to Camp Ulovane.
Activities during the Marine Guide adventure
Depending on whether you take part in the 6-months or 4-week training your schedule will vary. If you stay in the course for 6 months, the first 17 weeks of your training will focus on the Apprentice Field Guide and Apprentice Trails Guide subjects – for example, ecology, geology, astronomy, taxonomy, animal behaviour, plant use and, of course, guiding and guest interaction plus rifle handling, tracking and walking safaris.
The actual 4-week Marine Guide programme serves to expand your previously gained guiding know-how by introducing you to South Africa’s coastal and marine life. Throughout the training you will be taught on a variety of subjects including marine wildlife and plants (marine mammals, birds, reptiles, fish, sea plants), geology, astronomy, historical aspects, conservation management and, of course, marine guiding.
Throughout the entire training, no matter if it’s the short or extended programme, students will experience a balanced mix of theoretical and practical units.
Long-term experienced trainers will always ensure support and instruction and pass their expert knowledge on to them. Exciting extras of the Marine Guide training include snorkelling excursions, estuarine boat trips and visiting the fisheries department of Rhodes University in Grahamstown.
During the final exam period of the course(s) you will need to pass several theoretical and practical assessments in order to receive the official FGASA certificate. At the end of your training you will be able to safely conduct guide experiences in the coastal-marine environment.
Accommodation as a guide student
Depending on how mow many participants are signed up for the Marine Guide course, you will either live in our partner’s base station Camp Ulovane or in a small coastal cottage near Port Alfred.
Ecofriendly and sustainable Camp Ulovane borders Amakhala and Kwantu Game Reserves, and is situated in its own little reserve. Here you will share a room with one or two other students.
Each bedroom has access to its own bathroom, equipped with a shower (and hot and cold water), a toilet and a basin. Rooms are furthermore provided with gas geysers, a cupboard, a desk, a chair, bed linen and towels. To charge your electronical devices you can use the camp’s charging station in the main area. Free WiFi – which might be limited sometimes – can be used in a designated WiFi zone at the campus offices. Cell phone reception is quite good most of the time. Whereas personal clothes need to be done by yourself, a laundry service is offered for your training uniform. Further facilities of Camp Ulovane include a dining room, a small lounge and a lecture room.
You’ll be provided with three meals per day. Teamwork in the kitchen is encouraged and suggestions are always welcome.
If you are part of a very small team, you will stay in a lovely coastal cottage which is only a 15 minute-drive from the town of Port Alfred. You will share a room with one or two other students and use shared bathrooms. The cottage also has its own fully equipped kitchen where you and your group prepare your daily meals together. A lounge, a dining room and a braai area are further features of the house. WiFi is not available, though.
Your accommodation is surrounded by spectacular nature spots and is therefore a perfect base for your Marine Guide adventure.
Keep in mind: When joining the 6-months training which includes the Trails Guide programme, it is possible that several nights will be spent under Africa’s starry night sky! If staying at Camp Ulovane throughout the Marine Guide programme, single nights might be spent in an accommodation near Boknes Beach.
Leisure time during your guide training
No matter if you choose the 6-months or 4-week course: you will always have some free time in between; mainly around lunchtime or in the evening hours. Sunday afternoons can usually be used for own activities as well. Relax in camp, read a book, go for a run, play volleyball or go on a trip to the nearest town.
When joining the 6-months programme there will be several larger breaks: a mid-weekend break in week 5, a two-week break between the Apprentice Field Guide and the Apprentice Trails Guide programme and a two-day break between the Apprentice Trails Guide and Marine Guide programme. During the two-week break, students need to leave camp but can use this great opportunity for backpacking and travelling in the area.
Arrival in Port Elizabeth and transfer to camp
Typical day during the guide course
Tests and final exams
End of course and departure from South Africa
Additional notes for the Marine Guide course
FAQ – Learn more about this trip
“I got the exact contrast to my life that I wished for: namely being outside! In nature, in the fresh air! And that 24/7.”
“During these excursions our practical skills got tested: Guiding, driving, tracking, trees, animal behaviour – we literally dealt with anything that crossed our path.”
“Many thanks for the great preparation and the constant availability when I had any questions!!!”
“I had the expectation of having an extraordinary experience. This expectation was fulfilled, if not exceeded.”
1. Camp Ulovane
Camp Ulovane is a sustainable and ecofriendly training facility in Ulovane Reserve, sharing borders with beautiful Amakhala and Kwantu Game Reserves in South Africa’s Eastern Cape. The camp was completed in 2009 and offers modern, comfortable and well-equipped facilities for its students – including several dorm rooms plus attached bathrooms, a kitchen and dining area, a lounge and a lecture room.
The Ulovane Reserve is a conservation area which mainly focuses on vegetation management and on re-establishing populations of Cape Mountain Zebra and smaller mammals. There are no large potentially dangerous animals in the reserve. Guests of Camp Ulovane can enjoy a magnificent view of neighbouring Big 5 Amakhala Game Reserve and sometimes even spot herds of antelope roaming the plains below – a stunning place for an educational wilderness adventure.
Background of the Marine Guide training
Our 4-week Marine Guide course is undertaken along the awe-inspiring Sunshine Coast in South Africa’s Eastern Cape and introduces students to the country’s coastal marine environment and ecosystem – the most important ecosystem on the planet. This way, learners will be able to enhance their own guiding portfolio and transport the connection between the marine and the terrestrial environment to others.
The Sunshine Coast is an area which is rich in marine species diversity and boasts the largest dune fields in South Africa. On top of that, it is one of the world’s best whale watching locations.
At the end of the course students will be equipped with the knowledge and skillset to create coastal-marine experiences for visitors.
Acquire the basics of Southern Africa's nature, in theory and in practice, and become a Safari Guide