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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.


    Are you under 21 and looking for a career in the wildlife sector? 

    Bushwise Field Guides offers the most comprehensive field guide course in South Africa for under 21s. With career exposure placement options at 3–5 star lodges and research centres, you will have a big advantage when starting your career. Options for under 21s in guiding is limited due to professional driving permit (PdP) requirements, but Bushwise’s Conservation Careers internship gives you the opportunity to start your journey to become a professional field guide.

    Overview of the internship

    The Bushwise campus is based opposite the Greater Makalali Private Game Reserve. It is about 60km from Hoedspruit, in the Limpopo province. There is no better place in the world to do your Field Guides Association of Southern Africa (FGASA) accredited field guide course. The South African bushveld is known for its rich biodiversity and will offer you every challenge and opportunity to excel as an apprentice field guide.

    Bushwise has built a reputation as a leading training provider in the safari industry and offers one of the most comprehensive courses available. The FGASA Field Guiding and Conservation Careers Internship is available to anyone over 18 years and provides a training platform for prospective field guides or conservation professionals. It also offers students exposure in various fields of safari careers to help them decide what they wish to do with their future careers.

    Students on this course have the opportunity to undertake a career exposure placement after completing the six-month, certified course. With the guidance of the Bushwise trainers you will choose the extent of your placement, ranging from one to three or six months, to gain valuable hands-on experience. Your placement will cement the information and skills learnt during the training period. See the project details tab for more information on each of the specific internship placements.

    Life on the internship

    Bushwise has a structured, daily program in place so that students get into the routine of a working field guide. We aim to give a balance of theory and practical training during each day, but we do allow room to adjust to program requirements, seasonal changes and student needs.

    The curriculum includes bush skills such a wildlife tracking, shooting competency, 4×4 driving, outdoor first aid, and wildlife photography. It also includes in-depth knowledge and practical application of subjects such as conservation, ecology, reserve management, geology and animal behaviour. All training is conducted by professional guides, registered trainers, and instructors.

    Course details

    The course is known for producing the highest calibre of graduates for a competitive industry. Throughout Bushwise’s years of operation, its graduates have, collectively, achieved the highest marks of all FGASA’s long-term providers, and are considered the best-trained professional guides in the industry. 

    Topics include: 

    • introduction to guiding in the natural environment
    • creating a guided nature experience
    • geology
    • astronomy
    • weather and climate
    • ecology
    • taxonomy
    • biomes of Southern Africa
    • botany – trees and grasses
    • arthropods
    • amphibians
    • reptiles
    • fish
    • birds
    • mammals
    • understanding animal behaviour
    • conservation management and historical habitation
    • vehicle skills and basic mechanics
    • 4×4 training
    • hospitality and hosting basics in a lodge environment
    • principles of anti-poaching
    • survival and navigation
    • viewing potentially dangerous animals
    • rifles and rifle handling
    • bush first aid skills
    • tracking (Cybertrack Track & Sign)
    • wildlife photography.

    The following placements are offered:

    •         Six months non-guiding placements
    •         Three months non-guiding placements
    •         One month non-guiding placements

    It is important to know that the career exposure placements are determined by the Bushwise head trainer. The decision is based on your performance throughout the course, interest, and Bushwise’s formal Terms & Conditions.


    The career exposure placements provide you with the opportunity to gain valuable experience in various fields of research, anti-poaching, reserve management and lodge management. These are all vital skills for a professional field guide. 

    Possible areas of specialisation you can get involved with on your career exposure placement:

    • Wildlife research and monitoring: Spend time with a dedicated team of researchers learning about what life is like as a field researcher. You’ll learn about logistics, and practise research techniques and data collection.

    • Anti-poaching: Learn from the dedicated anti-poaching personnel about anti-poaching techniques, dealing with dangerous situations, and anti-poaching ethics. This is a real hands-on and “boots on the ground” experience.

    • Ecotourism lodge: Assist in all the departments of a luxury ecotourism lodge for work experience, new skills and insight into the dynamics of an ecotourism lodge.

    • Environmental education and animal rehabilitation: Help a team in teaching local people about the importance of protecting wildlife, and caring for injured or abandoned wildlife.

    • Game farming and reserve management: Get involved in the ins and outs of a game farm and in wildlife breeding programmes. Get stuck into some hands-on reserve management tasks and activities.

    All students must pass both the FGASA exam and course requirements before starting any placement for longer than three months.

    What’s included

    Nationally recognised certificates

    • FGASA Apprentice Field Guide (NQF2)
    • FGASA Apprentice Trails Guide (practical add on available to complete qualification in full) 
    • FGASA Field Guide (NQF4) theory
    • CATHSSETA national qualification (gained with NQF 2) in Nature Guiding
    • Firearm Proficiency SASSETA
      • Unit Standard 117705: Demonstrate knowledge of the Firearms Control Act 2000 (Act No 60 of 2000) applicable to possessing a firearm 
      • Unit Standard 119651: Handle and Use of manually operated rifle or carbine
      • Unit standard 123519: Handle and use of manually operated rifle or carbine for business purpose
    • National Level 1 and 2 First Aid Wilderness certificate
    • National level 3, 4×4 driving qualification
      • Unit Standard 254135: Apply the techniques for operating four wheel drive (4WD) vehicles, in on-road and off-road conditions 
    • Cybertracker Track & Sign qualification (SASSETA & CATHSSETA)

    Bushwise certificates and training

    • Bushwise Professional Field Guide Course certificate
    • Wildlife photography workshop
    • Bushwise birding specialist course
    • Reptile orientation course
    • Dangerous game experience
    • Social media module in the field guide and lodge industry
    • Advanced rifle handling


    • six months work experience from placement venue (50-week course)
    • experienced, long-term staff conducting all the necessary course training
    • all necessary FGASA course manuals and materials
    • safe, but basic accommodations (usually shared)
    • two sets of uniforms
    • all compulsory books (if included)
    • limited internet access at no extra cost
    • t-shirt, fleece jacket, cap and beanie
    • all meals while on the course (except during off weeks)


    • visits to other reserves or places of interest.
    • other activities, such as sleep outs, Kruger National Park trips
    • bushwalks


    • welcome meeting
    • location orientation
    • pre-departure support and discounted services
    • 24-hour emergency phone
    • airport pick-up (unless otherwise stated)
    • 24-hour in-country support
    • ethical guiding principles


    • camp management and leadership skills
    • basic vehicle mechanics
    • hospitality training
    • basic astronomy 
    • survival skills

    Free time

    Saturday afternoons and Sundays are free time for students, although it’s recommended that students use this time for personal study and preparation for the upcoming lectures. After every fourth week, students also get a full week off and are encouraged to leave campus, travel and explore the local area. Here are some of the highlights that can be enjoyed.

    • Head out to the Blyde River Canyon for boat trips, kloofing, whitewater rafting, hiking, hot air ballooning and camping.

    • The Kruger National Park gates are only a 90-minute drive from campus. Day trips or overnight camping trips are available within the park.

    • Moholoholo Animal Rehabilitation Centre is 60-minute drive from campus. Spend some time exploring the rehabilitation of endangered species.

    • Spend one day on the Panorama Route and see Bourke’s Luck Potholes, God’s Window, and many waterfalls with swimming spots.

    • The Giant Baobab (formerly known as the Upside Down Restaurant) is only a 50-minute drive from campus. They are rumoured to sell the best pancakes in Limpopo. Be sure to try them.

    • Debengeni Falls in the town of Tzaneen is a stunning waterfall accessible by anyone. It offers picnic areas and hiking trails.

    Upcoming course start dates

    7 January 2019
    8 July 2019

    Program fees

    6 months11 95016 450159 50016 45022 45014 450
    6 months + 1 month non-guiding placement12 45017 200169 50017 20023 70015 200
    6 months + 3 month non-guiding placement12 70017 575174 50017 57524 32515 575
    6 months + 6 month non-guiding placement12 95017 950179 50017 95024 95015 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