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FGASA Field Guiding and Conservation Careers Internship

Spend 6 months on an extensive Professional Field Guide training course, with an optional 1, 3 or 6 month non-guiding placement available after graduation.

Join us in South Africa’s Lowveld region, one of the world’s best big game territories, and train to become a qualified field guide while experiencing the African bush at its most exquisite. This course, which is available to anyone 18 years or older, provides a training platform for prospective field guides or conservation professionals who are eager to get a headstart in these competitive industries.

The FGASA Field Guiding and Conservation Careers Internship allows you to choose your Internship Placements, ranging from 1, 3 or 6 months, depending on the time commitment you wish to make to gain practical experience and improve your CV, ahead of looking for a job in the industry.

All Bushwise trainers are highly experienced and Field Guide Association of Southern Africa (FGASA) certified. This accredited course embodies both theoretical and practical elements, which will provide you with full FGASA accreditation.

Life on the Program

While on the training component of the course,  typically the day will start early, at around 05:30. This will involve grabbing a cup of tea or coffee, before heading out into the bush for a morning of practical training, reference books and binoculars in hand. The foundation of the course is structured around the FGASA (Field Guide Association of Southern Africa) syllabus, which will give you an in depth knowledge and understanding of Southern African Fauna and Flora. The curriculum includes bush skills such a wildlife tracking, shooting competency, 4×4 driving, outdoor first aid, wildlife photography, and in-depth knowledge and practical application of subjects such as conservation, ecology, reserve management, geology and animal behaviour. The internship placements will then expose you to a number of different wildlife and conservation careers including anti poaching, Wildlife research, safari lodges, enviromental education and animal rehabiliation.

After the morning’s activities, you will take part in a hearty brunch with the rest of the students. The afternoon will involve more fresh air, as you head out for a practical or lecture, aiming at building on the skills and knowledge you gained from the morning session. All the teams return for an evening meal around the campfire and will collectively reflect on the day, sharing stories and bonding about your untraditional “9 to 5” experience in the African bush.

The academic curriculum at Bushwise is accredited by the Field Guide Association of Southern Africa (FGASA), the South Africa Qualifications Board and the Culture Art Tourism Hospitality and Sports Sector Education and Training Authority. All students are taught by experienced guides and instructors. All additional qualifications are also attained through accredited training providers.

Project Details

The course is known for producing the highest calibre of graduates for an in-demand industry. Throughout our years of operation, our graduates have achieved the highest marks of all the FGASA long term providers, and are considered some of the best trained professional guides in the industry.

Students on this course have an opportunity to undertake a career exposure internship (with varying lengths) after completion of the 6 month certified course. This allows you to gain valuable hands-on experience, as well as cementing the information and skills learnt during the training period, as you ‘set foot-in-the-door’ towards the exhilarating and competitive safari tourism industry or in the direction of your intended wildlife and/or conservation career.

For this particular course, the following internships are offered:

  • 6 months non-guiding internship
  • 3 months non-guiding internship
  • 1 month non-guiding internship

It is important to consider that the internship allocation is determined by the Bushwise head trainer, and is based on your performance, interest and our formal T’s & C’s. All students must pass both the FGASA exam and course requirements before starting any placement longer than 3 months.

Possible activities you could get involved with and exposed to on career exposure internship:

  • Wildlife research and monitoring: spend time with a dedicated team of researchers learning about what life is like as a field researcher, logistics, research techniques and data collection.
  • Anti-poaching: learn from the dedicated anti-poaching personnel about anti-poaching techniques, essentially a real’ hands on’ and ‘boots on the ground’ experience.
  • Assisting at an ecotourism lodge: assist in all departments of a luxury ecotourism lodge to see how it works behind the scenes and gain new skills and experiences.
  • Environmental education and animal rehabilitation: help a team to teach local children the importance of protecting wildlife, care for injured or abandoned wildlife.
  • Game farming and reserve management: get involved in some of the activities on game farm and intensive breeding programmes and get stuck in to some hands on reserve management tasks and activities.

The career exposure placements provide you with the opportunity to gain experience in the fields of research, anti-poaching, and more, all while getting practical insight and experience and learning about what life will be like a field guide. You are guaranteed to get a practical headstart on the other guides in the industry, and to solidify yourself as a field guide to be reckoned with, as soon as you turn 21 and are able to acquire your PrDP (driver’s permit).

What’s Included

  • 24-hour in-country support
  • Access to Alumni Services and Discounts
  • Airport pick-up (unless otherwise stated)
  • All compulsory books (if included)
  • All necessary project equipment and materials
  • All necessary project training by experienced staff
  • Birding specialist course
  • CATHSSETA (The Culture, Art, Tourism, Hospitality and Sports Sector, Education and Training Authority) National Qualification (Level 2) in Nature Guiding
  • Cybertracker track & sign qualification
  • Dangerous game experience
  • Ethical guiding principles
  • FGASA (Field Guides Association of Southern Africa) national certificate – Level 1 – practical and theory
  • FGASA Level 2 knowledge
  • National LEVEL 2 First Aid Certificate
  • National level 3, 4 x 4 driving qualification
  • Reptile orientation course
  • SASSETA (Rifle handling, proficiency, maintaining of firearms and shooting)
  • Safe and basic accommodations (usually shared)
  • T-shirt, fleece jacket, cap and beanie
  • Transfer from Oliver Tambo International airport (if included)
  • Wildlife photography workshop
  • Limited internet access at no extra cost
  • Location orientation
  • Long term experienced staff
  • Meals while on project (except on work placements for long term internships)
  • Other activities, such as sleep outs, Kruger trips, etc.

What’s Not Included

  • Additional drinks and gratuities
  • Extra local excursions
  • Flights
  • Food during the placement portion of your internship
  • International and domestic airport taxes
  • Laundry, food and transport during weeks off
  • Medical and travel insurance
  • Personal kit
  • Police or background check (where necessary)
  • Recommended reference books
  • Transport costs to placement
  • Visa costs


Weekends provide you with some well earned free time (although it’s recommended that students use this time for personal study and preparation for the upcoming lectures, in order to stay on top of their game). Once a month on the course, you will get a full week off, and are encouraged to leave campus, travel and explore the local area, providing a more well-rounded African experience for your duration in the country.

Some highlights which could possibly be enjoyed:

  • Blyde River Canyon: boat trips, kloofing, whitewater rafting, paintball, hot air ballooning and camping to name just but a few.
  • Kruger National Park: Orpen and Phalaborwa Gates are just an hour and a half’s drive from the campus. Day Trips/overnight camping available as well.
  • Moholoholo Rehab Centre: endangered species rehabilitation, a fascinating adventure for those interested in the conservation field.
  • Panorama Route: Bourke’s Luck potholes, God’s Window and waterfalls are just some of what you can see, easily completed in a single day.
  • Giant Baobab/Upside Down Restaurant: get up close with huge baobab trees, and don’t forget to try the great pancakes.
  • Debengeni Falls, Tzaneen: stunning waterfall, picnic area and hiking trails. Talk to one of our trainers to learn more about this.

Please note that if you plan a trip away in your time off, you may need to hire a car, as public transport is limited in the Hoedspruit area. The estimate cost for hiring a car is R450 per day, including insurance and unlimited mileage, though costs could vary according to car size. The more friends you take with you the cheaper it makes it too, so be sure to explore the option of a group outing too.

Many students also travel further afield to places such as Mozambique (Tofo area), Cape Town, Durban and St Lucia World Heritage Sight during their off weeks, and students are encouraged to plan these trips ahead of time in conjunction with communication with the Bushwise team.

Upcoming Course Start Dates

7 January 2019
8 July 2019

Program Fees

6 months 11 950 16 450 159 500 16 450 22 450 14 450
6 months + 1 month non-guiding placement 12 450 17 200 169 500 17 200 23 700 15 200
6 months + 3 month non-guiding placement 12 700 17 575 174 500 17 575 24 325 15 575
6 months + 6 month non-guiding placement 12 950 17 950 179 500 17 950 24 950 15 950


Kate Nelson

General manager Camp Jabulani, Relais & Châteaux

“Bushwise is a professional organisation, committed to the welfare of its students and to ensuring that they enter the safari industry with the correct qualifications, a high level of knowledge and strong guiding ethics.”

Ben Tupper 

former Bushwise student, now GVI SANParks Internship Coordinator

“Signing up and completing Bushwise has changed the course of not only my career but my entire life. I now get to wake up every morning to the sounds of baboons and hyenas and end each day with the setting African sun; none of this would have been possible without undergoing the Bushwise course”

Bushwise is accredited by Field Guides Association of Southern Africa