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Frequently Asked Questions

Here are answers to some of the most frequently asked questions by customers
What kind of visa do I need?


Please note that you need a full valid passport. Since you will be staying in South Africa for one year, you will need to get a year long study permit. In order to get this visa you will need a letter from Bushwise which we will provide. The consulate will take 30 working days to process this visa application, so please begin the application process as soon as you have booked your place. We advise you to not leave your country if you do not have the necessary study visa in hand. You are not allowed to study if you are in the country on a tourist visa. In order to apply for the visa it is likely you will need to provide:

  1. A full birth certificate (not an abridged one, it must include both parents details).
  2. Passport (valid for no less than 30 days after expiry of intended visit and with at least 2 facing blank pages)
  3. Police clearance certificate (this should not be more than 6 months old at time of visa application).
  4. Letter from Bushwise to include details of your accommodation, that you have complied with their fees, and an agreement that they will advise the authorities if you leave the course.
  5. Proof of financial stability (bank balance/statement)
  6. Proof of medical cover (medical insurance policy)
  7. Medical report (a letter from a GP or hospital stating that you are fit to carry out your duties in SA, this should not be more than 6 months old at the time of application).
  8. Radiological report (a report from a radiologist confirming that you have been examined and have shown no signs of TB, should not be more than six months old at time of application).
  9. Flight details & evidence of onward travel out of South Africa.
  10. 2 passport photographs
  11. A deposit of £600 (amount subject to change) or equivalent in your country’s currency, to be refunded once you return to your home country or gain permanent residence in South Africa.

Please also note that all monies paid will need to either be in the form of a postal order or banker’s draft.

I can only book my flights 11 Months in advance. What shall I do?

Airlines will usually only let you book your flights 11 months in advance so you need to buy a ticket with a changeable return date. Once you are in South Africa you can change the date to suit the end of the course. Please be aware that most return airlines tickets are only valid for up to one year.

Why must I be able to drive a Manual/Shift stick car?

All the vehicles that Bushwise and the other game lodges use are manual. We cannot allow students to learn to drive manual vehicles at Bushwise as other students will be in the vehicles on the training game drives. All students must already hold a manual license, with at least a year of relevant experience before their application can be considered. This license must have been held for at least 12 months before the course start date. Students will be required to pass an internal driving test at Bushwise before they are allowed to drive company vehicles.

How much am I likely to spend?

Participants typically spend approximately GBP 250 per month for day-to-day expenditure such as calling cards, personal items, and time off costs. We recommend that you travel with a credit/debit card as your main source of funds, although having cash as a backup is wise. ATMs are commonplace throughout South Africa. Traveller’s cheques can also be exchanged in major towns, but this can take some time.

What are the other costs involved?

PDP license: The price for getting your Professional Driving Permit (PDP) license, should you not have a South African driver’s license, would be approximately R5200 through a registered driving school. This amount includes the booking and writing of learners and practical driving exams as well as lessons. The cost for the whole drivers licence and PDP procedure is the student’s responsibility and needs to be done during off periods so as not to interfere with course activities.

Uniforms: Two sets of uniforms are included in the course fees but extra items such as socks, shoes, jackets or extra uniforms, need to be paid for by the student.

Shall I bring my laptop?

Yes it is a good idea to bring your laptop to keep notes and your photos on. Wireless internet is available at the campus.

How old do I need to be?

You must be at least 18 to do the 60 Day Field Guide course and Professional Field Guide course (23 weeks).  You must be between the ages of 21 and 39 to do the full year field guiding program (incl. work placement).

How much spending money will I need each week?

This is a difficult question to answer and obviously depends on personal preference, with some people spending more than others. The course includes brunch and dinner. Soft drinks and snack are for your own account. Keeping this in mind, most students spend in the region (sometimes a bit more, sometimes less) of R500.00 per week. Keep in mind if you are thinking of spending your off time off campus exploring the area your costs will be a lot higher.

What is the difference between a Game Ranger and a Field Guide?

For an in-depth read on the difference between a game ranger and a field guide, please refer to our blog post here.

Do I require to have a FGASA qualification for any other career in conservation besides field guiding?

In short, no. However Bushwise courses offer you a good platform to start your career,  with the opportunity to get strong practical bush experience and exposure to the industry. You will gain transferable skills which can relate to any other Wildlife career. We have had many students from various conservation and environmental backgrounds attend our courses to get practical field experience, especially in relation to working in the African bush.

What other type of guide can I become with FGASA?

The Field Guide Association of South Africa offers a number of different courses, depending on the field you would like to specialise in. Most of the additional courses listed below are speciality courses and you will still need to complete a Level 1 Nature Guide course, before pursuing the additional qualifications.

Nature Guide Categories 
Local Nature Guide
Level 1 Nature Guide
Level 2 Nature Guide
Level 3 Nature Guide
Marine Guide Category
Level 1 Marine Guide
Dangerous Game Qualifications
Back-up Trails Guide
VPDA Certificate
Trails Guide
Advanced Trails Guide
SKS Dangerous Game
Rifle Handling Certificates
FGASA Basic Rifle Handling
FGASA Advanced Rifle Handling
Tracker Qualifications
Tracker Level 1
Tracker Level 2
Tracker Level 3
Tracker Level 4
Senior Tracker
Master Tracker
Scout Qualification
Birding Qualifications
Local Bird Guide
Regional Bird Guide
SKS (Birding)
Horse Guiding Qualifications (Non-Dangerous Game)
Assistant Horse Guide
Lead Horse Guide
Advance Horse Guide
Horse Guiding Qualifications (Dangerous Game)
Dangerous Game Assistant Horse Guide
Dangerous Game Lead Horse Guide
Dangerous Game Advance Horse Guide
Wildflower Qualifications
Specialist Wildflower Guide
SKS Wildflowers
Biome Guiding Qualifications
Biome Guide
National Biome Guide
Other Certificates
Commercial Cave Guiding Knowledge Certificate
South Africa General Knowledge Certificate
Minimise & Manage Safety and Emergency Incidents
Research and Design Certificate
Guiding Conservation Management Certificate
Guiding Tourism Management Certificate
FGASA/ Sappi Tree Knowledge Certificate
Bird Knowledge Certificate
How do I get my FGASA Level 2 and 3 etc?
In order to become a level 2 field guide, the guide must already have a minimum of 1 year (260 days) practical active guiding experience as a nature guide.
Once you feel you have the necessary skills and knowledge you can apply to write your FGASA Level 2 Field Guding exams and complete the practical. If you pass both the exam and the practical, you will require a valid first aid certificate and can then register as a level 2 field guide.
As you gain more experience and knowledge you can work towards a Level 3 Field Guide qualification.
How do I become a Trails Guide?

Learners wanting to attain a FGASA Trails Guide qualification in order to lead walking trails in dangerous game areas need to first attain the FGASA Back-Up Trails Guide and gain the required amount of experience in order to be awarded the FGASA Trails Guide (Lead) Qualification.

The attainment of a FGASA Back-up and Trails Guide is directly linked to the attainment of the FGASA Advanced Rifle Handling certificate. This expires every two years.
If you do not carry a rifle for guiding purposes you will only be awarded the VPDA Certificate (which does not expire). All FGASA Back-up, Trails Guide and Advanced Trails guide certificates will have an expiry date based on when the ARH is due for renewal.

To be eligible to apply to be practically assessed for the FGASA Back-up Trails Guide Qualification you must have:
  • Been declared competent (passed) for the FGASA Trails Guide theory examination
  • Gained and logged the required active guiding experience
Experience required for you to attain the FGASA Back-up Trails Guide Certificate:
  • At least 10 encounters (minimum 50 hours) on foot as either lead guide or back-up accompanied by a FGASA qualified Trails Guide or SKS (Dangerous Animals or Dangerous Game) guide/trainer/assessor.
  • The 10 encounters on foot for the Back-up Trails Guide can be attained in an area where at least 2 (two) of the Big 5 Dangerous animals exist.
  • During any Trails Guide training course, 5 of the 10 encounters can be logged as a mentored participant while the other 5 encounters need to be logged as a “lead guide” under training. Keep in mind that the guide at this stage of training cannot lead a walk to view potentially dangerous animals if s/he is not accompanied by a FGASA qualified Trails Guide or SKS(Dangerous Animals or Dangerous Game) guide.
Thereafter to get your Full Trails guide you need to have have at least 100 hours (50 encounters) with a qualified FGASA lead guide. For more information please refer to http://www.fgasa.co.za/default.asp?CPH_ID=98


Angéle Rouillard from Canada

“Unforgettable 6 months, during which, getting FGASA Level 1, was only one of many things I loved. Being immersed 24/7 in the bush, is the best way to get to know it. I have learnt to see, hear and smell things I hadn’t noticed before, realising the Big 5 are only a tiny piece of an amazing net of beings. Nothing better than sharing this with the beautiful people I was lucky to do so!”