Field Course South Africa: EcoTracker Wildlife Monitoring
Take part in this unique training course in South Africa and acquire traditional skills in wildlife tracking and essential knowledge of conservation management within 28 days.
Tracking describes the skill and knowledge to recognize, interpret and follow animal signs. Skilled trackers know what an animal is doing – without actually seeing it. In short: Tracking opens the door to hidden worlds.
The art of tracking is one of the most complex skills in the world of wildlife and plays a significant role in the fields of ecotourism, species conservation and wildlife monitoring.
The course is divided into three different phases. In the last phase, you will have the opportunity to take a final exam and depending on the results achieved, obtain a Tracker Academy and FGASA endorsed Tracker certificate.
No matter what your reason is for attending the course – during your time as an EcoTracker you will immerse yourself in the breathtaking wilderness of South Africa, track fascinating animals and spend an unforgettable, enriching time amidst untouched nature.
Your EcoTraining Adventure – Why book with Natucate
As long-term partners of EcoTraining, we have a trusting relationship with the team on site and visit the camps ourselves each year. When booking your EcoTraining adventure with Natucate, you will benefit from expert advice, comprehensive travel preparation, 24/7 support and German travel law advantages. When booking with Natucate, you won’t have any extra costs.
On our EcoTraining info page you can learn more about why to book your field course with Natucate.
- Live and learn for 28 days in the wilderness of South Africa
- Immerse yourself in the breathtaking flora and fauna
- Acquire key tracking skills
- Become familiar with nature and species conservation
- Learn from excellent guides with long-term tracking experience
- Meet people from all over the world
- Receive an official FGASA certificate upon successful completion of the course
Plan your trip
Included in the programme fee
- Placement in the programme
- Assistance with travel arrangements
- Assistance with selecting travel insurance
- Assistance with booking flights
- Risk coverage certificate
Daniel, your travel agent for Southern Africa
You would like to learn more about this trip? Don't hesitate to contact me! Our service doesn't end with your departure: I answer all of your questions and support you before, during and after your stay abroad.
Note: The price stated above is an approximate value. Due to sharp fluctuations in the exchange rate of the South African Rand, the final price for this trip will be calculated at the time of enquiry based on the latest exchange rate.
EcoTracker training course in Africa
When participating in the 28-day EcoTracker course, you will acquire traditional skills in wildlife tracking and essential knowledge of conservation – always instructed by excellent guides. We are proud to have Tsundzukani Hlungwane (Certified NQF2 Tracker) as the host instructor for this course. And the world-renowned tracker Renias Mhlongo will make guest appearances for certain modules.
Arrival and orientation in South Africa
Your arrival and departure will be via Johannesburg. We recommend that you arrive at your own expense the day before the course starts to make your journey less stressful. If that is the case, you will land at the O. R. Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg and spend one night in a guest house in the city. The following day, our partner's transport service will pick you up and take you to the first camp.
Upon arrival, you will be greeted, can move into your shared tent and receive further information about the course programme and the schedule. The next morning, the actual course programme will start. At the end of the course, you will be taken back to Johannesburg and can fly back home or travel onward.
Activities during the EcoTracker course
The course programme starts the day after your arrival. Usually, course days start before sunrise, as wildlife is most active at this time. After a light breakfast, you, your team and your guide will set off into the bush until early midday. The focus is on game walks – therefore, you should be physically fit, so that longer hikes in partly uneven terrain do not cause any difficulties.
For lunch, you will return to camp and can gather new energy during the siesta that follows. In the afternoon, you and your team will go on a second bush walk or game drive. As an alternative to practical units, theory lessons will take place in the classroom to provide you with basic tracking knowledge as well.
The course is generally divided into three phases: Phase 1 is designed to teach you tracking skills on a theoretical and practical level. Finally, in Phase 2, participants learn to apply their knowledge in predator monitoring and wildlife protection. For this purpose, you will dedicate yourself to an exciting tracking project and receive support from experienced guides. The final exam takes place in phase 3.
The official certificates that you can obtain are
- Tracker Academy Full Tracker Certificate
- FGASA Tracker Certificate (upon submission of the Tracker Academy Certificate)
Note: Depending on the results achieved, the participant can immediately receive a Tracker Academy and FGASA endorsed Tracker certificate.
Accommodation as a course participant
During your time in the course, you will live in two different camps in South Africa. In both camps, you and another student will be accommodated in dome tents and use shared bathrooms. Accommodation will be separated by gender, unless you book the course as a couple.
There is generally no electricity available in the camps; instead, a generator is switched on when needed. Satellite phones are used in case of emergency, as mobile phone reception is extremely limited. Furthermore, there are large community houses for classes and daily meals. These include a light breakfast, brunch/lunch, an afternoon snack and dinner. Water, tea and coffee are also available throughout the day.
Leisure time as an EcoTracker in South Africa
During the 28-day course, you will have individual afternoons off, which you can use to relax or study. Depending on the camp you can play volleyball or table tennis, borrow a book from the library, play cards or relax with the others.
Arriving at the Wildlife Monitoring course
Typical day during the EcoTracker course
Phases of the EcoTracker course
Last day of the field course
1. Camp Selati
Camp Selati is located west of the world-famous Kruger National Park. Situated directly on the banks of the Selati River, it is a wonderful observation point for numerous wild animals that cool off from the South African heat in the water of the river.
By participating in an advanced training course in the wilderness of the Selati Game Reserve, you are choosing one of the most interesting regions on the African continent. 33,000 hectares offer plenty of space for a species-rich fauna and flora which you can immerse yourself into during daily game drives and bush walks.
2. Camp Pridelands
Camp Pridelands is located in South Africa's Limpopo province and has been part of the world-famous Kruger National Park since September 2017. In Pridelands a wealth of fascinating wildlife observations can be made – from representatives of the Big Five to hyenas to the rare African wild dog.
As part of your educational nature adventure, you and your team will set off into the wilderness every day under the guidance of an experienced guide to acquire valuable knowledge about the flora and fauna of the region and to learn more about nature and species conservation as well as current measures and initiatives to preserve biodiversity.
3. Camp Karongwe
The South African camp Karongwe is situated at the mostly dried out riverbed of the Karongwe River, in the middle of an area of about 9000 hectares, which will impress you by its biodiversity as well as by its picturesque landscapes.
Nearby you can find the breathtaking Kruger National Park, well-known as one of the largest protected areas in South Africa. Immerse yourself into the spectacular natural landscapes during daily game drives and bush walks, experience the biodiversity of the Karongwe Game Reserve up close and expand your knowledge of the region’s unique flora and fauna under the guidance of experienced field guides.
4. Camp Makuleke
Camp Makuleke is located in the Pafuri region in the northern part of South Africa's Kruger National Park. A multitude of fascinating wild animals can be observed in this area and impressive areas can be admired.
If you opt for nature-oriented further education with a stay in Makuleke, you will gain insights into the breathtaking nature of Kruger National Park including its "Big Five": African elephant, black rhino, African buffalo, lion and leopard. Hikes and game drives in open off-road vehicles enable you to experience a superb diversity of flora and fauna – a true enrichment.
5. Camp Pongola
Camp Pongola is nestled into the wilderness of Pongola Game Reserve in the north-east of South Africa, near the Swaziland border. Endless green expanses and a diverse animal world are characteristic of the region. Four of the Big Five are at home at Pongola – elephant, buffalo, leopard and rhino – as well as hippos, crocodiles, hyaenas, giraffes, wildebeest, zebras, warthogs, twelve antelope species and more than 350 bird species.
Every day, you and your team will set out into the beautiful Pongola wilderness to learn more about the unique flora and fauna and to acquire more in-depth knowledge about guiding as well as nature and species conservation.
Background of the EcoTracker course
The aim of this course is to contribute to passing on and thus preserving the indigenous knowledge of Africa, built up and sharpened in a centuries-long process, to nature lovers through further education.
You will learn from long-term experienced instructors who are certified by the acclaimed Tracker Academy – the only formally accredited tracker training school in South Africa. We are proud to have Tsundzukani Hlungwane (Certified NQF2 Tracker) as the host instructor for this course. And the world-renowned tracker Renias Mhlongo will make guest appearances for certain modules.
Instructed by excellent guides, course participants deal with the following two components of wildlife tracking and experience a multi-faceted training in the midst of untouched natural landscapes:
Track and Sign Interpretation: the study of signs left by amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals. Learning takes place mostly in the bush itself. Practical coaching lessons are complemented by presentations and lessons in the camp classroom. Analytical and rational thinking is essential for correct tracking.
Trailing: the skill required to follow a diverse trail of sign until the animal is found. The skill of trailing takes the longest to learn. Good physical fitness is also required, as following a trail often involves long hikes in often high temperatures and uneven terrain. Successful trailing requires a creative and imaginative mind.
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