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Why do a 60-day safari guide course?

We often hear the question from prospective students, “Which field guide course should I do?” At Bushwise we offer two core in-person options: our 6- and 12-month Professional Field Guide course and our 60-day Safari Guide course. 

Both are immersive wildlife experiences where you can earn your FGASA as well as additional qualifications, but there are some important distinctions and reasons why you might choose one over the other. In this article and its companion article “Why do a 6- or 12-month field guide course”, we’ll help you decide which program is right for you.

Determining your purpose: why do you want to do a field guide course?

A Bushwise student student looks towards an elephant in the African bush while on a safari game drive.

This is an essential question to answer for yourself. Are you hoping to enter the safari industry, work in conservation, or simply experience the African bush and learn more about wildlife? Do you have plans to go back to your home country or job after you finish, or do you want to stick around and find a permanent guiding position? 

I want a career as a field guide. If this is your answer, you could do our 60-day Safari Guide course. You’ll earn your FGASA Apprentice Field Guide NQF2 qualification, Bushwise Field Guide qualification, and other essential accolades to get you set up for a job. But instead of doing a short course, you may want to consider our 6- or 12-month Professional Field Guide course. The reason? Gain additional qualifications (up to 8 certificates), build a huge knowledge base, get work experience, and develop a professional network in the industry.

I want to get into conservation. Our short course is a great way to start a career in conservation. Not only will you add valuable qualifications and skills to your CV, which translate well into conservation jobs, you’ll also get a taste for field work and studying wildlife in their natural habitat. Many international students also choose to graduate from Bushwise and then go on to work in a conservation or ecotourism role back home. 

I just want an amazing wildlife experience. Then 100% this is the course for you! You probably have an idea in your head of the kinds of things you’ll see and learn in 60 days in the African bush. This is so much more than you can imagine. Living in the bush, waking up to the sounds of nature, observing wildlife every day, studying animal behaviour, diving completely into the experience – in just two months you’ll walk away with more knowledge than you ever imagined. Not to mention lifelong friendships, lasting memories, and a newfound appreciation for our wild world.

Time: can you commit months or just weeks to training?

A Bushwise student uses binoculars to look at something in the distance, while on a training drive in the Greater Kruger.

This is perhaps the easiest question to answer, depending on where you are in life and whether this course is part of your career development or more of a sabbatical or gap year experience.

My time is limited – two months is the most I can commit. If this is your answer, then the 60-day course is absolutely for you. It’s a condensed and immersive course, which means every single day is full of learning and experience. Not a moment will be wasted as you dive into learning about animals and developing new skills. This is one way to make your sabbatical or gap year/semester experience truly worthwhile.

I have flexibility – I want to put the time in to get the most out of this experience. If this is your answer, you should consider our Professional Field Guide course. Simply put, more time means more qualifications, more experience, more skills and more memories. Head over to our other article to learn more about why this is the best choice for you.

Sightings: what are you hoping to see?

Life in the bush is not static, constant or predictable. It’s always changing, showing us something new and surprising at every turn. There are days when all you’ll see are birds and insects, but the unique observations you make that give you so insight into the wild world around you that you can’t help but feel in awe.

Over 60 days, depending on the time of year you join the short course, you could see a change in seasons, the birth of baby animals, migration of bird species, shifts in the night sky, the blossoming of a tree, or any other natural phenomenon. Consider the time of year and the season when you book a course, and also consider if you’d like to see more. This may help you decide whether you are comfortable with a two-month experience or if you’d rather extend it to 6- or 12-months.

Qualifications: how will a 60-day safari guide course drive your career development?

Bushwise students listening to a lecture on birds in South Africa.

To work as an entry-level field guide, you’ll need the essential qualifications that our 60-day course can offer you. This, at the very minimum, means getting your Apprentice Field Guide (FGASA NQF2) qualification. Both of our in-person courses allow you to earn this. But, as with any industry, jobs become more and more competitive, and you need to have additional skills and experience. So it’s worth it to consider how much you want to bolster your CV, based on how much time you have to commit.

On our 60-day course you can earn:

  1. FGASA (NQF2) Apprentice Field Guide 

  2. CATHSSETA Nature Site Guide (NQF2) 

  3. Bushwise Safari Guide

  4. Wilderness First Aid certificate

  5. Reptile Handling certificate

  6. CyberTracker Track & Sign certification

Think you need more? See why you should do a 6- or 12-month course instead.

Other things to consider when choosing a field guide course:

Your age when joining a course. On the Bushwise Professional Field Guide course, you have the option of adding on a 6-month work placement. Placements are not guaranteed for anyone over the age of 39, due to restrictions in the guiding industry. If you are able to find a placement during the course, you can extend your experience. Participants who are under 21 years old (18–20) will only be able to do non-guiding placements, also because of age restrictions for the professional driving permit (PrDP) – learn more here. 

The kind of visa you need. If you’re coming from abroad, this may be an important consideration. International students on our 6- and 12-month program will need study visas. Bushwise will provide the necessary letter from your education provider, but the rest of the process is up to you – as it would be with any study abroad experience. On the short course, for people coming from most countries, you’ll only need a visitor’s visa. This is typically received on arrival in South Africa for 90 days. Chat with our enrollment team to learn more.

It’s your choice! When it comes down to it, choosing the right course for you is really up to you. Take some time to read through the course descriptions, check out our FAQs, watch some testimonials, read some reviews, join a virtual or on campus open day, and reach out to our enrolment team.

The only person who can make this decision is you, but we’re here to help! No matter which course you choose, it’s going to be a life changing experience, and we can’t wait to meet you.

Learn more about our courses here, or sign up for our next Virtual Open Day to ask all your burning questions!

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