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    Introduction to Field Guiding

    Learn with the top-rated FGASA provider. Engage in personal, interactive learning experiences delivered by our academy of experts. Make connections, start your dream career.

    Overview of the course

    There’s a reason we’re a top-rated FGASA provider. More than 90% of our graduates get a job upon earning their FGASA NQF2 qualification, formerly known as the FGASA Level 1. This is due to our well-maintained connections with ecotourism employers across the African continent and our ability to develop new field guides of the highest-calibre using our superior learning experiences. Unlike other FGASA courses of its kind, where learners self-study all training materials, we provide an engaging, experiential experience delivered by experts with over 50 years of combined experience in the field. 

    Join our online FGASA course to attend masterclasses led by directors of conservation organisations, managers of private nature reserves and professional field guides who have led thousands of safari drives and walks. Along with your classmates, fellow rising stars in African ecotourism, ask our experts questions and receive answers informed by many years of experience. These discussions are designed to not only allow you to master the subject matter, but to create meaningful connections with leaders in the field. This allows you to kickstart your professional network, an essential aspect of modern-day employment as most vacancies today are filled through referral. 

    In addition to providing tons of opportunities for social learning, our course is designed to keep you motivated throughout by providing regular progress milestones in the form of quizzes. Learning is also facilitated through the discussion of real-world case studies to ground the theory in the practical application of field guiding. 

    We want you to become the kind of field guide lodges reserve for their top clientele and who garners recommendations wherever you go. The unique knowledge and skills modules included in this course are designed to develop you into this kind of exceptional field guiding professional. Completing the View Potentially Dangerous Animals (VPDA) and Advanced Rifle Handling (ARH) to develop the advanced safety skills required to give clients the up-close-and-personal wildlife interactions they’re asking for. You’ll also be able to astonish clients with your knowledge of the African wild by attending the numerous masterclasses. 

    Course details 

    Duration: 4 weeks 
    Effort: 7-10 hours
    Learning style: self-paced
    Age: 18 – 99 (We welcome individuals of all ages, backgrounds and skill levels.)
    Language: English

    What you’ll learn

    On completion of this course, you’ll be able to:

    • Understand the role and responsibilities of the professional field guide
    • Lead and engage large groups of diverse people from around the world
    • Understand the recommended ethical guiding practices and carry out an ethical guided experience in the natural environment
    • Carry out research on suitable sites in preparation for your guests
    • Ensure the health and safety of your clients on a guided experience.

    Dates and costs


    South African Citizens
    2021OnlineR8,250.00 (incl VAT)
    2021Start dates26 July, 18 October
    2022OnlineR8,250.00 (incl VAT)
    2022Start dates7 March, 30 May, 22 August, 14 November


    International Citizens
    2021OnlineGBP £600.00 / USD $850.00 / EUR €750.00 / AUD $1,150.00
    2021Start dates26 July, 18 October
    2022OnlineGBP £600.00 / USD $850.00 / EUR €750.00 / AUD $1,150.00
    2022Start dates7 March, 30 May, 22 August, 14 November

    Payment Plan A payment plan may be arranged. Terms & Conditions apply. Please email [email protected] for more information. Bushwise is recognised by most major South African banks including FNB and Standard Bank. South African citizens can apply for student loans to assist with the payment of course fees.

    Course details

    The course is made up of 4 official FGASA modules. One module which is necessary for the NQF2 qualification, and 3 additional NQF4 (level 2) modules. One module will be completed by week, as listed below:

    Week 1: 

    Introduction to the skills of guiding

      • What is a guided experience, and what skills are required as a field guide.

    Developing a guided experience

      • Managing clients’ interests and expectations through research, knowledge and making changes on your feet as required. 

    Care for customers

      • Communications skills, how to be approachable and solve problems. 

    Minimising and managing safety and emergency incidents 

      • How to prevent emergency situations, but also how to act, react and manage these incidents if they do occur. 

    Week 2: 

    Conducting the guided experience

      • From your pre-briefing to the debriefing and all the things in between. How to integrate your knowledge to your guiding activity, and best practices to apply in field guiding. 

    Radio procedure 

      • Two-way radio techniques, sighting procedures and how to use a two-way radio in the field. You will also be able to give a brief to your guests on how to use the radio in the case of an emergency.

    Reviewing the guided experience 

      • Focused on how you can improve your guided experience and reviewing your guiding activities. 

    Week 3: 

    Rifles and advanced rifle handling

      • Learn with the utmost care the rules and safety of firearms, how to clean and take care of your rifle. You will be advanced in handling a bolt action rifle. 

    Week 4:

    Viewing potential dangerous animals

      • Learn the important knowledge of how to interpret the behaviour of potentially dangerous animals, giving you the competence to provide your clients with a well-informed, safety-conscious experience.

    Course structure

    The FGASA Field Guiding online course is 4 weeks long and is made up of 40 hours of learning. Students typically spend 10 hours per week completing the material required to gain the certificate. 

    The course comprises 4 official FGASA modules, each delivered by one of our experienced trainers in South Africa. Each week is made up of live webinars, which help to ensure you are on track, and allow you to engage in question and answer sessions. Each module will end in a compulsory assignment.

    Expert masterclasses and live lectures

    This course includes access to leading experts in the field through a series of guest lectures. 

    The FGASA Field Guiding online course offers you an incredible opportunity that most students will only dream of. We have brought together a diverse range of professionals in the safari and wildlife industry to present and discuss with you their opinion on a variety of subjects related to the field guiding industry.

    These are held twice a week through live webinars, Q&A sessions and open discussion forums. Each of these live webinars will give you the opportunity to interact with industry professionals, ask questions, plan and navigate your career in the safari industry, or grow your knowledge about the biodiversity in Southern Africa.

    Here are some examples of the speakers and topics you should expect to engage with on this course:

    • Co-founder and principal research – Elephant conservation and research in South Africa
    • Wildlife Director for Humane Society, Africa – Contraception as a management tool
    • Director – Anti Poaching and response to wildlife
    • Executive Director – Pangolin conservation 
    • Warden – Reserve management, Limpopo South Africa
    • Director – Sustainable utilisation as conservation tool 
    • Director and founder – Snake handling and conservation
    • Project coordinator – Vulture conservation and research 
    • Field guide and trainer – Introduction to South Africa’s insects and Arachnids
    • Field guide and trainer – Intro to South Africa’s biodiversity, birding and bird photography
    • Field guide and trainer – Poaching in South Africa 
    • Field guide and trainer – Early African tribal folklore and their meaning
    • Field guide and trainer – Walking field guides, trailing and following animals
    • Field guide – Reptile identification

    The learning experience

    You will engage in this course through a variety of mediums and platforms. 

    Lectures: All lectures are compiled by subject matter experts with over 50 years of combined experience in the field. 

    Readings: Recommended readings are provided to encourage you to delve deeper into each topic. 

    Quizzes: Each lecture begins with a short 5-10 question quiz from the required readings.

    Assignments: Each module has an assignment based on the FGASA workbook manual. The assignments will also be discussed in the weekly webinars. 

    Discussions: Bushwise encourages discussions on the student forums. Share your thoughts, receive answers to your questions and get to know the fellow students. 

    Live classes: Live webinars are held weekly to discuss that week’s module and assignment. 

    Student support: A dedicated student support manager will also be on hand to answer any questions regarding technical support.

    What’s included


    • The Nature Enthusiast FGASA certification
    • Apprentice Field Guide NQF2 knowledge
    • Field Guide NQF4 knowledge
    • Academic support via live webinars
    • A wide variety of learning materials
    • The Guiding Skills Manual – Grant Hine
    • Participant support including a dedicated student support manager who will respond to technical and administrative queries within 48 hours
    • The Apprentice Field Guide (NQF2) exam can be booked at an additional cost with FGASA directly. Please visit the following website for further details: https://www.fgasa.co.za/membership/examinations

    At the end of the online course, students will receive the following certifications

    • Apprentice Field Guide NQF2 knowledge
    • Field Guide NQF4 knowledge 
    • The FGASA Field Guiding online course certification


    • Internet access
    • Device (laptop) and headset
    • Additional supplementary recommended reading material

    Practical training


    If you’d like to continue your journey and become a professional field guide,  join us on campus to complete the practical portion required to earn your FGASA NQF2, formerly known as FGASA Level 1. Over 90% of those who complete their FGASA NQF2 with us get a job upon graduation.

    Our flagship course is a 23-, or 50-week Professional Field Guide course, the latter includes a 6-month work placement after you graduate. 95% of our graduates receive a job offer within 30 days of completing this placement. 

    Read our alumni success stories.


    Our expert instructors have backgrounds in both conservation and the tourism industry. They will teach you solid fundamentals and how to apply your knowledge practically in the industry.

    Trevor Myburgh
    General Manager & Trainer

    Trevor is a trainer at the Mahlahla campus and has been in the lodge and guiding industry for seven years. He has held various positions including lodge management, leopard research, capture and relocation, wildlife rehabilitation, overland guiding and guiding in Big 5 reserves in various parts of South Africa.




    Gerhard van Niekerk
    Head Trainer

    After 20 years in the corporate world, Gerhard completed his safari and trails guide training. He spent six years working as a freelance trails guide at various 5-star lodges in the North West Province and the Waterberg in South Africa. After two years as a trainer, Gerhard joined Bushwise, bringing with him a holistic approach to his nature guide training.




    Vaughan Jessnitz
    Senior Trainer

    Vaughan has been part of the tourism industry for the last 10 years, guiding and managing camps throughout South Africa, specifically in the Greater Kruger National Park. Throughout his career, he has been involved in various conservation and research projects specialising in entomology and biodiversity mapping throughout South Africa. He has been working at Bushwise for the last four years. 



    Edward Smith

    Edward is currently the youngest trainer at Bushwise and has been part of the Conservation and Tourism industry since he left school back in 2010. At the age of 19, he qualified as both a field and marine guide but decided to kickstart his field guiding career by taking an opportunity at one of South Africa’s oldest private game reserves, Bonamanzi Private Game Reserve in Hluhluwe, KZN.




    Jack Hutchinson

    Jack was a Bushwise student back in 2009. He has been guiding for the last 11 years in 5-star lodges such as Imbali Safari lodge, Lion Sands and Thornybush in South Africa. He has been working at Bushwise since January 2020. He is currently training to become a FGASA assessor and mentor for trail guides.




    Lindi Hutchinson

    Lindi finished her apprentice trails guide training in 2011. In November 2013, she started her guiding career at Entabeni Game Reserve in the Waterberg, South Africa. She has worked in numerous different reserves and biomes and is now a professional field guide with FGASA Level 3 and Full Trails qualifications. She has been working at Bushwise since January 2020.

    Highest quality field guide trainer in South Africa

    Bushwise is well known in the industry as a provider of the highest quality field guide in South Africa. This online course aims to provide a level of quality and support which is no different. 

    Responsive and efficient support that goes above and beyond

    The Bushwise team are extremely passionate about nature and the field guiding industry, and focus on providing support above and beyond other providers. Whether it’s assisting students to reach specific learning-based milestones, or providing support towards a new career path in the safari industry. 

    Expert-lead personal learning experiences

    Bushwise’s online courses are unique due to the amount of personal and guided learning time the student gets. There are weekly live webinars hosted by the instructors, allowing you to engage with students in discussions and Q&As. There are also student forums available to interact with fellow students, discuss topics of interests, ask questions and learn new things.

    Our passion for nature, conservation thereof, and the education of prospective field guides are evident in all our on-campus programs. Our professional trainers and team behind the curtains managed to deliver the same dedication with outstanding results through our online courses. Let’s hear what the online alumni have to say.


    Gareth Jones, United Kingdom, 2020

    Just finished both of the online courses and can’t rate them highly enough! Looking forward to finally meeting the trainers out in Africa when I finally arrive at campus and confident for when I sit my NQF2 theory examination next month!!


    Daniel Greyvenstein, South Africa, 2020

    Once again Bushwise has done it! I enjoyed the course very much, and can’t wait to start the practical component next year!


    Camille Larose, Canada, 2020

    An amazing course who you will learn so many thing to become a amazing safari guided ! Thanks to all the bush wise team. It’s was a memorable experience . We meet a lot of great people.¬†


    Claire West, South Africa, 2020

    “Thoroughly enjoyed this course… Potentially Dangerous Game was my favourite and guide was really engaging. Once I started reading it, it was like a proper page-turner.

    Trevor is just the most knowledgeable man was always willing to help and advise on what to do which was lovely. He also made us think for ourselves and not just give the answers which was also very helpful.

    Thank you for everything Bushwise this has been a wonderful 10 weeks.


    Jorina van Rooyen, South Africa, 2020

    It was so exciting to learn what your role as a Field Guide will be once you are in the field. The guest speakers blew me away every time and gave me a new perspective on how I experience and see nature. It was challenging at times but I enjoyed every minute and would recommend this course to everybody that is thinking about becoming a Field Guide or who just want to start working in the industry. Thank you Bushwise for opening a whole new world to me.


    Sajid Darr, Kenya, 2020

    Hands down the best online course I have attended! Very helpful trainers, Very insightful webinars. The sky is the limit with Bushwise!


    Daniella Richardson, South Africa, 2020

    A lovely course with a world of information at your finger tips. Going more in depth than any other online course I’ve been on.


    Anja Ellis, Germany, 2020

    This course was very intense and super interesting! If there was any doubt of going this way it is more than clear now, that I would love being a field guide.


    Matthew Franklin, United Kingdom, 2020

    This course is one of a kind, I could not have got a better online learning experience if I tried, the knowledge gained to become a professional field guide is at the top level. The level of the instructors and support systems are world-class, I can not wait to get out to SA to start the practical side and complete my journey


    Andrea Sabatta, South Africa, 2020

    The course was absolutely amazing. I enjoyed every online class, and found the learning materials very interesting. I learnt so much during the course, and I believe that I have finished the course a better person.



    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