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Nature Enthusiast FGASA Online Course

Become an African nature and wildlife expert. Attend expert-led masterclasses, learn through engaging discussions and earn a certificate from the top-rated provider of field guide qualifications.

Have a love for African nature and wildlife? Want to become an authority on the subject? Learn from the best. Bushwise is the top-rated provider of Field Guide Association of South Africa (FGASA) qualifications due to our quality learning experiences. 

Unlike similar FGASA courses that require learners to study the material by themselves, we offer a highly supportive, interactive learning experience featuring expert instructors and lots of opportunities for participant engagement and practical application. 

Join the Bushwise Nature Enthusiast FGASA Online Course to attend live lectures delivered by leaders in their field who have over 50 years of combined experience. These include directors of conservation organisations, managers of wildlife reserves and experienced field guides. See the African wild through their eyes, informed by in-depth knowledge developed over many years. Listen to their stories and learn from their successes and missteps. Ask them questions and receive personal feedback.

You’ll be joined in these classes by others from around the world who are just as passionate as you are about African nature and wildlife and are on the same learning journey. With them, discuss real-world case studies that put the theory you’re learning into context. Complete regular quizzes so that you can see your growing expertise, and assignments to apply your acquired knowledge to things you might see and experience while in wild African spaces. 

You’ll complete the first 16 official FGASA modules. Topics covered include African mammals, plants, birds, reptiles, amphibians, insects and fish. You’ll also learn about African ecosystems, geology, climate and even astronomy. 

But, like all Bushwise courses, we cover so much more than the basics. By attending our masterclasses, you’ll gain specific insight into elephant, pangolin and vulture conservation. You’ll also learn about how anti-poaching initiatives are run and about innovative conservation strategies.

This course is designed for anyone from students, new graduates or career changers who are looking to start a career in African wildlife to working professionals or retirees interested in citizen science projects. 

If you’re interested in starting a professional field guiding career, this course is your first step. The study materials and registration fees for the FGASA Apprentice Field Guide NQF2, formerly known as Level 1, qualification exam are included in this course. If you’d like to continue your journey, complete the Bushwise FGASA Field Guiding online course. Then join us on campus to complete the practical portion required to earn your FGASA NQF4, formerly known as FGASA Level 2. Over 90% of those who complete their FGASA NQF4 with us get a job upon graduation.

Course details

Duration: 6 weeks
Effort: 7-10 hours per week
Learning style: self-paced
Age: 16 – 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:

  • Identify different African species and ecosystems 
  • Identify, read and understand African animal tracks
  • Explain different types of African animal behaviour 
  • Identify African bird species by song and appearance.

Course details

The course is made up of 16 official FGASA modules. The aims of each module are listed below.

Week 1: 


    • You will know and understand the meaning of geology, be able to provide explanations for the types of plant life and associated animal life that occurs in an area based on soil and rock types.

Weather and climate 

    • You will be able to describe the influences on the Southern Africa climate and explain weather conditions that apply to the area where you are guiding.

Week 2: 


    • You will know and understand the main interesting features of the night sky, season by season and how to include this in enhancing your clients’ experience.


    • You will know and understand how the various components fit into the larger ecosystems and understand its importance in guiding.


    • You will know and understand how the dynamics of a particular area interact and the role of each element in the functioning of that area.

Week 3: 


    • You will know and understand how the structures of taxonomy interrelate with the plants and animals in an area.

Botany – Plants, trees and grasses

    • You will know and understand basic botany related topics such as plant processes, be able to identify various plants and learn interesting facts related to traditional beliefs associated with specific species.

Week 4: 


    • You will know and understand how to identify arthropods at a basic level, as well as be able to provide basic information that relates to interesting facts in respect of amongst other things, feeding habits and behaviour. 


    • You will know and understand how to identify common species of fish as well as the ecological importance of fish.


    • You will know and understand how to identify common species of frogs and toads, be able to identify them by means of their calls as well as understanding their ecological role.

Week 5: 


    • You will know and understand how to identify the different species based on their features, interesting facts relating to survival strategies and reproduction in the various different species.


    • You will know and understand how to identify the different species based on their features, interesting facts relating to survival strategies and reproduction in the various different species.


    • You will know and understand how to identify the different species based on their features, interesting facts relating to survival strategies and reproduction in the various different species.

Week 6: 


    • You will know and understand animal behaviour as individuals, but also group behaviour. You will be able to explain different communication methods, territories and interpret the signs and sounds of animals.

Conservation management

    • You will know and understand what conservation practices are used in the natural environment and why these are carried out.

Historical human habitation

    • You will know and understand interesting facts about early human history, and the distribution of traditional southern African cultures.

Course structure

The Nature Enthusiast FGASA online course is 6 weeks long and is made up of 60 hours of learning. Students typically spend 10 hours per week completing the material required to gain the certificate. The course comprises 16 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 that you are on track, and allow you to engage in question and answer sessions with the Bushwise trainers and instructors. 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. Each of these live webinars will give you the opportunity to interact with industry professionals, ask questions, plan your career in the safari industry, or grow your knowledge about the biodiversity in Southern Africa. 

These guest lectures will take place once a week throughout your 6-week course, and will cover topics such as the below:

  • Co-founder and principal researcher – 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 andArachids
  • 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 Nature Guide Learner Manual – Grant & Gillie Hine
  • The Guiding Skills Manual – Grant Hine
  • The FGASA Field Guide (NQF2) Study Guide & Learner Workbook
  • Participant support including a dedicated student support manager who will respond to technical and administrative queries within 48 hours


  • 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  8 July, 21 September
2021 Online  R8,250.00 (incl VAT)
2021 Start dates  4 January


International Citizens
2020 Online GBP £550.00 / USD $750.00 / EUR €700.00 / AUD $1,050.00 
2020 Start dates  8 July, 21 September
2021 Online GBP £600.00 / USD $850.00 / EUR €750.00 / AUD $1,150.00
2021 Start dates  4 January

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