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  • Writer's pictureBushwise Student

Bushwise Course Update: FGASA Exam, Botany Test and Passion for Wildlife

Updated: Nov 13, 2023

This blog was written by Alizée Favrat, Bushwise Professional Field Guide student. Each week, students take turns as camp manager to experience what it’s like to run a lodge or a team. Writing a blog is part of that process.

4 min read

This week was probably one of the most important moments of the course as our FGASA NQF2 theory exam was on Saturday. Everybody in camp was studying really hard to make sure they got more than 75% to pass the exam. Luckily, we all worked a lot last week for the Bushwise exam which really helped to not be overwhelmed by all the work due by the end of the week. 

Presentation day: Learning about zebras, antelopes and more

A small herd of three waterbuck males, with massive horns, stare towards the camera with long grass flowing around them.

On Monday was our presentation day: everyone was assigned a topic and presented it to the class with the help of slides. We learned so many different things and it was amazing to realize how little we knew about things we get to see everywhere on drives. For example, we learned new things about zebras, antelopes or even the savanna biome. 

On Tuesday, we had our botany mock test. We had to identify 30 species of trees, grasses and flowers all around our campus. This is a part of the practical assessment that we need to pass in order to pass our Bushwise course. This is actually one of the reasons I chose to take a Bushwise course – because we go far beyond the minimum FGASA level required and the extra knowledge and soft skills we gain here are very important. It is also really satisfying and gratifying to know that I am now able to identify most of the vegetation around me, in a place completely different from where I live. 

Following your passion: A French student’s journey at Bushwise

Alizee, the author of this blog, smiling in a cafe where she’s taking a break from her studies as a field guide student.

I am actually from France on a gap year between my engineering studies. You might wonder why a 22-year-old French engineering student is spending six months in the southern African bush and taking a field guide course. A lot of people have asked me this question and the answer is quite simple: passion. I have had a passion for African wildlife ever since I can remember. 

As a child, I was very eager to learn about all the animals and I wanted to become a wildlife filmmaker. I kind of forgot about this part of me growing older when I got into math and physics studies but it came back to me in 2019 when I came to South Africa with my family. At this point, I knew I was meant to come back but this time as a field guide student. And here I am, three years later, taking a gap year to live my dream. 

A group of Bushwise field guide students standing in the bush in front of a dam where wildlife frequently come to drink.

After this course, I will go back to France to complete my studies and get my master degree, but who knows what the future holds? Once I graduate from Bushwise, I will have made the first step into this industry and might come back to spend my life in the guiding industry… 

This week was also quite unique because we had Cyclone Freddy that came and poured a lot of rain on our roads, making it impossible to go on proper drives. The amount of rain we already had this month in addition with this cyclone indeed made the roads of our concession impossible. However, the trainers managed to still make this week exciting with several revision classes. The silver lining of this weather was also that we had the chance to see beautiful sunsets enhanced by the clouds – like in this picture that was taken by the fence. 

Managing time and responsibilities as a camp manager

A colourful sunset across the African savannah as another day passes in the bush.

This week, I learned how to manage my time better as I had to manage my own studies alongside the camp life and the responsibilities of camp manager. Elea and I faced the challenge of having to change the kitchen twice because of a technical incident. We had to explain that to the students and get them to move their food from the fridge. We also tried to make sure that everyone was studying in good conditions. Moreover, we helped a few students that struggled with some modules for the FGASA exam. 

I know for sure that everyone here will pass the FGASA exam since we have been so well 

prepared by the trainers during our revision sessions and everyone has been studying 

really hard! You can see that the Bushwise students have learned to study and enjoy the beauty of the bush at the same time. This semester has been a lot of focus on theory but it was worth it since we learned so many things. Next semester we will focus on the practical things and hopefully get to drive on the roads of the concession again! 

To conclude, I would say that this responsibility as a camp manager has taught me how to better prepare for my personal work and communicate in a better way with the group. This week has made me grow as a person and will definitely make me a better guide!

Follow us on Instagram for more updates on the field guide course and to see the incredible wildlife of Southern Africa through the eyes of our students.




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