Guide Course South Africa: Eastern Cape Trails Guide
You already have experience as a field guide in Southern Africa but would now like to put a focus on walking safaris, special alertness in the bush and dealing with wildlife encounters while roaming the bush on foot? Then join our Apprentice Trails Guide training in the wilderness of South Africa’s breathtaking Amakhala Game Reserve, learn how to safely conduct bush walks in a big game environment and finish the course being equipped with new environmental knowledge, situational awareness – and an official FGASA certification!
This programme offers you two different options: If you have no previous field guide experience you can take part in the 4 ½-months training whose initial 10 weeks serve to provide you with essential field guide knowledge (Apprentice Field Guide) and are followed by a 7-week Trails Guide programme (Apprentice Trails Guide). If you already have successfully taken part in an Apprentice Field Guide training, though, then the 7-week Apprentice Trails Guide Specialization Course might be just right for you. In either case long-term experienced trainers will teach you and your international group important hands-on skills concerning walking safaris, tracking and rifle handling and equip you with fundamental theoretical knowledge in a range of different subjects.
Immerse yourself into South Africa’s wilderness and experience an unmatched educational adventure.
- Roam the wilderness of South Africa’s Eastern Cape on foot
- Observe an abundance of wild animals in their natural habitat
- Acquire new environmental knowledge and situational awareness
- Learn how safely lead a group of safari guests through a big game region
- Benefit from the expertise of long-term experienced guides
- Receive an official FGASA certificate at the end of the course
Apprentice Trails Guide in South Africa
When joining the Apprentice Trails Guide training you explore South Africa’s unique flora and fauna on foot, acquire intense situational awareness and get the chance to obtain an official FGASA certificate after successful course completion.
Arrival and orientation in South Africa
You will arrive and depart via Port Elizabeth. 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 your Trails Guide adventure
Depending on whether you choose the 4 ½-months or 7-week training your schedule will vary. If you stay in the course for 4 ½ months, the first 10 weeks of your training will focus on the Apprentice Field Guide subjects – for example, ecology, geology, astronomy, taxonomy, animal behaviour, plant use and, of course, guiding and guest interaction.
The actual 7-week Trails Guide programme will sharpen your previously gained guiding skills.
Therefore, it focuses on safely walking and guiding in a wilderness area plus teaching you special situational awareness and handling big game encounters like an expert. Subjects you will deal with are:
• Professional rifle handling
• Walking safaris (includes approaching big game)
• Tracking skills including a Cyber Tracking evaluation
Throughout the entire training, no matter if it’s the short or extended programme, students will experience a balanced mix of theoretical and hands-on units.
Long-term experienced trainers will always ensure support and instruction and pass their expert knowledge on to them.
At the end of your training you will be able to safely handle a rifle, read wildlife tracks and signs, make appropriate decisions when encountering big game and lead a safari group in a safe, informative and enjoyable manner.
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.
Accommodation as a guide student
Camp Ulovane, an ecofriendly and sustainable training camp close to Amakhala and Kwantu Game Reserves, will be your home throughout your Trails Guide adventure. Together with one or two other students you will sleep in a shared room which has access to its own bathroom, equipped with a shower (and hot and cold water), a toilet and a basin. In each room you will find gas geysers, a cupboard, a desk and a chair. Bed linen and a towel will also be provided. If you need to charge any electronical devices you can use the camp’s charging station in the main area.
Free WiFi can be used in a designated WiFi zone at the campus offices. Whereas WiFi can often be limited due to your remote bush location, cell phone reception is quite excellent most of the time. A laundry service for your training uniform is offered; personal clothes need to be done by yourself. A dining room, a little lounge and a lecture room are further facilities of Camp Ulovane. As a student you’ll be provided with three meals per day. Teamwork in the kitchen is encouraged and any suggestions are always welcome.
Keep in mind: as part of the Trails Guide course, it is possible that many nights will be spent under Africa’s starry night sky!
Leisure time during your guide training
No matter if you choose the 4 ½-months or 7-week course: you will always have some free time in between. This will mainly be around lunchtime or in the evening hours, plus Sunday afternoons. You can relax in camp, read a book, go for a run, play volleyball or go to town.
When joining the 4 ½-months programme, though, there is a mid-weekend break in week 5 as well as a break of two weeks between the Apprentice Field Guide and the Apprentice Trails Guide programme. During this 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 Africa
Additional notes for the Apprentice Trails Guide course
FAQ – Learn more about this trip
“Walking is a lot of fun and makes you fit while you are in beautiful nature.”
“It was amazing. I have made zero, zero (and zero is little) negative experiences.”
After taking part in the Field Guide Level 1 our wilderness student Matthias also completed the Trails Guide course in South Africa – and sent us some amazing wildlife shots we'd like to share with you of course:
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 Apprentice Trails Guide
The Apprentice Trails Guide qualification is designed for nature guides who are exceptionally tuned into nature with particular alertness in the bush. Being a Trails Guide requires a high level of maturity and responsibility as dealing with big and potentially dangerous game is part of the job – while making sure that an inexperienced group of safari guests is safely led through a wilderness area. Therefore, the course puts a focus on walking safaris, situational awareness and dealing with big game encounters in the open wild. Our Trails Guide adventure is not only suitable for those who are serious about a career within the lodge and hospitality industry, but also for outdoor lovers who are simply passionate about nature, wildlife and learning.