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FGASA Field Guiding Online Course

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 the 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 Birds, Botany and Arthropod masterclasses. 

Please note that to join this course you will first need to first pass our Nature Enthusiast FGASA online course. Once you have successfully passed both of our online courses and your FGASA Apprentice Field Guide theory examination, your next step to becoming a qualified field guide is to apply this knowledge on-site in the African wild. You can do this by joining us at the Bushwise campus in South Africa’s Limpopo region, not far from Kruger National Park.

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
Prerequisite: Nature Enthusiast FGASA online course

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.

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

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

Dates and costs

South African Citizens
2020 Online  R7,500.00 (incl VAT)
2020 Start dates 24 August, 2 November
2021 Online  R8,250.00 (incl VAT)
2021 Start dates  15 February


International Citizens
2020 Online GBP £550.00 / USD $750.00 / EUR €700.00 / AUD $1,050.00 
2020 Start dates 24 August, 2 November
2021 Online GBP £600.00 / USD $850.00 / EUR €750.00 / AUD $1,150.00
2021 Start dates  15 February

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.


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 for being the highest quality field guide trainer in South Africa. This online course aims to provide a level of quality and support which is no different. 

Support above and beyond other providers

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.


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