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Various guiding pathways one can pursue

Being a Field Guide does not have to be one dimensional, in fact there are various pathways you can choose from your entry level FGASA Field Guiding qualification. Here is some more info on Field Guide NQF2 & Advanced Field guiding qualifications (previously known as FGASA level 1 and Level 2 – What is FGASA Level 1 and Level 2?

This exciting field can lead you to follow your own passion depending on your interests and this could be trails guiding, marine guiding and even Birding.

Cultural guide

A Cultural Guide conducts guided experience based on local attractions of that specific area. They must be well-informed in terms of the local culture, traditions, the history and interesting information in a way that is entertaining and informative to visitors. To become a Culture Guide, one needs to acquire the FGASA (NQF4) Culture Guide qualification.

Birding guide

A Bird Field Guide or Birding specialist is a person who guides guests and identifies bird species by sight and sound. They then also explain the bird behaviour and interesting information on that bird. Within this field you can obtain your: Local Bird Guide Certificate, Regional Bird Guide Certificate, National Bird Guide Certificate, The SKS(Birding) Qualification.

Biome guide

A Biomes guide is specialised in the understanding of various biomes which is defined as very large ecological areas on the earth’s surface. This includes the various fauna, flora which have adapted to their environment. It is influenced by geology, soils, rain fall, climate, and vegetation.  The field guide is able to conduct a specialist guided biome experience of any of the biomes of South Africa based upon which Biomes they chose to specialise in and in South Africa there is a wide variety to choose from that vary quite allot.

Marine guide

The FGASA Marine Guide (NQF2) [Previously known as FGASA Level 1 Marine Guide] is able to identify the major living and non-living features of the coastal-marine environment in which s/he operates and interpret them at a level based mainly on observation and from an elementary scientific and cultural perspective.

As a general guideline, a Marine Guide(NQF2) has a sound knowledge of the history, geology, plants and animals (i.e. birds, mammals, reptiles, etc.) in the specific area of guiding operation. It is very helpful to have this additional qualification is working on a coastal reserve that includes beach and bush safaris. The FGASA Marine Guide(NQF2) must be registered with the National Department of Tourism in order to legally operate as a Nature Guide in a coastal-marine environment.

Photography Guide

A Photography guide is a person who has an understanding of the technical aspects of photography and has an excellent knowledge and understanding of nature. Having this additional skill can add to a guide’s employability and enhances the visitors’ experience as they understand what is required by photography enthusiasts, especially those who are travelling for photographic opportunities. By understanding components such as vehicle positioning in relation to the subject or natural lighting, background and foreground can help the guide offer their guests best photographic opportunities.

Trails guide

Once the field guide has achieved their FGASA FIELD GUIDE NQF2 (level 1) certification, and have obtained your Advanced Rifle handling, they are able to work towards their Trails Guide qualification. Step one is to acquire the Back-up Trails Guide certificate which consists of a theory test and then a practical component. Let us explain what these roles are first. A BACK UP Trails guide once qualified is able to provides support to the Lead Trails Guide while conducting an on-foot walking experience to view potentially dangerous animals. Once you have completed the set number of hours and encounters and passed your assessment you can then work your way towards the Leads trails guide qualification.

A Lead Trails Guide is a person who guides visitors on a nature experience to view potentially dangerous animals on foot in biodiverse wilderness areas with the assistance of a Backup Trails guide.


A Tracker Field Guide is a person who interprets animal tracks and signs found in nature. This can be anything related to the signs of an animal’s presences from tracks, droppings, disturbed vegetation, scat, feeding habits etc. and includes mammals, invertebrates, amphibians, birds and reptiles). This is a great skill to have in order to trail and animal and find this for your guests to view.  Mastering trailing takes years of working in this field and experience with animal behaviour and reading the signs accurately. There are various level within this field including Tracker Level 1, Tracker Level 2, Tracker Level 3, Tracker Level 4, Senior Tracker and Head Tracker.

There are a few unconventional ones too, like boating safaris, mountain bike safaris and horse back safaris but we will leave this for the next blog!

With so many aspects and paths to choose from. It is wonderful to diversify yourself as a Field Guide. Give yourself the best start by doing our long-term course which includes parts of all the above aspects aswell as a 6-month work placement.

Recourses –

Blog by Kim van Greunen


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