I am often asked, what exactly is involved in training to become a Field Guide? Well, first of all we don’t go to a ‘proper’ school – our lecture hall is the bush itself! We sleep, eat and learn in the bush, 24 hours a day, for a minimum of 55 days. A typical day involves a morning game drive or walk – each day, one student is given the chance to practice guiding but the instructor will periodically cut in with added information and advice. Back in camp, there is time for breakfast before a lecture from one of the instructors and then some free time which is mostly taken up with completing the compulsory workbooks and revision. After lunch, a second game drive or walk before dinner and more relax-/study-time. It’s pretty intense, especially when the exams begin to loom over us, however we almost always find time for a game of volleyball or a cheeky documentary to keep us going! After completing FGASA Level 1 (the minimum requirement for guiding in SA), you can enhance your qualifications further by learning to become a trails (walking) guide and begin building knowledge in certain specialist areas, such as birding.
Ecotraining (who I trained with) also offer a 6-month internship to get that crucial lodge work experience in the hopes of getting a job at the end of it. I can honestly say that my time at ‘safari school’ was one of the best times of my life! It was hard work, and it certainly had more than one moment that brought me close to tears, but the friendships and memories I made, not to mention the skills I learnt, will hopefully last a lifetime.