Safari Guide Training Courses
Safari guide – the ultimate dream job right? You have the best office in the world, every day feels like an adventure, you meet interesting people, and get to enjoy Africa and its wildlife. Scratch beneath the surface though and a few negatives are there too. Safari guiding isn’t brilliantly paid, the working day can be very long indeed, you’re not staying where guests do and your accommodation can be fairly basic, and every so often there’s the client you could happily feed to the local lion pride!
So maybe you don’t really want to give up what you do and become a guide, but you still want more from your next holiday in Africa than morning and afternoon wildlife drives or nature walks – you want to drive the 4wd game viewer through the river, learn how to approach big game safely on foot, and get behind the scenes back at camp.
Safari Guide Training Courses
How about joining a safari guide course? In many cases you’ll be studying alongside those aiming to be guides, so this isn’t simply a taster, but the real thing for those wanting to train as a professional safari guide, and you can be there right alongside them.
Ask about a safari guide training course and the name that will keep popping up is Eco-Training. They’ve been training guides for over twenty years and run courses throughout the year in South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Kenya.
A typical Eco-Training safari guide course
There is no typical course as they run a huge variety from a 6 day Wilderness Trails Skills course through to the year-long Professional Field Guide course, with a number of others in between.
Typical guiding skills taught on the courses include:
– ecotourism and guiding
– creating photographic opportunities for guests
– communication skills
– dealing with guests
– animal behaviour
– ecotourism and local communities
– tracking big game on foot
– driving a 4wd game drive vehicle
– shooting a rifle
– sleeping out under the stars
Cost of a course
Rates of £50-£90 per day are much lower than a luxury safari holiday, but they’re different beasts and no one should come on a guide training course looking for a cheap safari holiday. You’ll be expected to be up early and go to bed late, as well as reading during the hours you’d perhaps normally have a siesta. However there’s enjoyment too; as Emma Fairbank wrote in a thank you note:
“After settling back into normal life, I just wanted to take the opportunity to say THANK YOU! I had the most amazing time…it was fantastic; the people, the location and the course. I left a little piece of myself in Mashatu, but that is OK because it means I have to go back… Thank you for kindling and inspiring a love of Africa!”
With almost 15 years of experience and a pedigree as long as your arm Okavango Guiding School is another respected operator in the area of safari guide training. The owners, brothers Grant and Brent Reed, are also the founders of one of our favourite mobile safari companies, Letaka Safaris, and Grant is one of the most highly qualified guides and trainers in the industry, having completed his FGASA Special Knowledge and Skills (SKS) Dangerous Animals, SKS Birding and SKS Wildflowers.
A typical Okavango Guiding School safari guide course
Okavango Guiding School offer three different courses at 7 (Bush Skills), 14 and 28 days (Trails Guide Course or FGASA Level 1). Courses run throughout the year.
The courses ensure practical experience of:
– weapons handling
– wilderness walks
– motor boating
– game driving
– poling a dug-out canoe
The following theory is also covered:
– weather and climate
– frogs, fish, reptiles
Cost of a course
The courses are roughly £1,100 per week and attract people with a wish to learn about and experience the wilderness, as well as those keen to be guides or experienced guides topping up their knowledge and skills.
As Grant puts it “Safari guide training courses suit just about anyone who is active and curious about nature!”
The More family has run the Lion Sands Game Reserve, alongside Kruger National Park, for four generations. They also own and operate a collection of hotels and lodges throughout Southern Africa.
The NJ More Field Guide College, which runs on the Marakele National Park in South Africa, is not simply a business for them, but a way to ensure future guides are “passionate, highly skilled and authentic natural ambassadors.”
Courses run at the field guide college
The college offers three different courses; three months, six months and twelve months. They start in January or July.
The3-monthh course covers FGASA Field Guide Level 1
Additional skills taught on the 6 and 12 month courses
– FGASA Field Guide Level 1
– FGASA Trails Guide Back up
– Rifle competency and Advanced Rifle Handling
– Wilderness First Aid Level 2
– Cybertracker “Tracks & Signs”
– Wildlife Photography
– Night Sky Safari Skills
– Navigation & Orientation
– 4×4 Driving
– Survival Skills
– Principals and practical application of Reserve Management
– Basic Mechanics
– Hospitality in a 5-star Environment
Cost of a course (2016 prices)
3 month field guide course £3,545
6 month field guide course £7,317
12 month field guide course £7,888
Arun studied at the field guide school in 2015 and wrote:
“I been wanting to come and live and work in the bush in Africa for pretty much all my life. NJ More Field Guide College is probably the best place I could ever have chosen. Our location is simply amazing, our instructors are experts who can really teach. I have gained so much knowledge about the bush, the animals, birds, insects you name it. The sightings and the learnings have been superlative and I am thoroughly enjoying myself following my African dream. Living with an international team and meeting wonderful people making lifetime friends, it’s been a joy from the start.”