asked questions


asked questions


What in-person wildlife courses do you offer?

We currently run two in-person courses:

We also offer a Wildlife Conservation Program in collaboration with our sister company, GVI.

How long are the courses?

Our long course, the Bushwise Professional Field Guide course, is 23 -or 50-week courses. The 50-week option includes a job placement at a lodge, reserve, conservation organisation or similar. 

If you don’t have that much time, we also offer our Bushwise 60-day Safari Guide course. The Wildlife Conservation Program varies in length from two weeks to a year.

Where are these courses held?

Our core wildlife courses are held at one of our two campuses close to the Kruger National Park in South Africa. Please visit our campus pages to read more about these amazing locations.

Do you offer any shorter in-person courses?

Our Bushwise 60-day Safari Guide course is everything you need to enter the competitive ecotourism and conservation industries. Whether you want a career in wildlife or just want to spend two months living in the bush and learning about nature, this is a great short option for those who don’t have 6 or 12 months.

Are there any age requirements?

There is no maximum age to join a Bushwise course! We have people of all ages, from 18 years and up, join our courses. The minimum age to participate in our Bushwise Professional Field Guide course is 18, and you must be 21 to get your PrDp and guide in a vehicle. It’s never too soon to start working towards your career!

Who else will be on this course with me?

Like-minded people with a passion for nature, love of wildlife and keen interest in making a difference in conservation. Our student body is quite diverse, representing many countries, cultures, ages, backgrounds and points of view. It’s a great way to meet new people while gaining new skills.

How many students are on each course?

There’s an average of 15-20 people on each campus, to ensure plenty of personalised training opportunities and support. This allows us to have a ratio of about 5-7 students for every trainer.

Are there language requirements?

Yes, as all of our course lectures and exams (including the FGASA exams) are delivered in English. We welcome people who speak English as a second language! Many of our trainers also speak Afrikaans and other South African languages.

Can you help me finance my course?

We offer payment options and we often have scholarships available for those who qualify. Reach out to our team to find out more.

Why would I choose to do an online course?

In some cases, you might not be able to travel or take the time to complete one of our in-person courses. Our online courses are a great option for anyone interested in starting their wildlife career or learning a bit more about our natural world. If you join our Professional Field Guide course or Safari Guide course, you’ll also have free access to our online courses to prepare yourself prior to coming to campus.

How long are the courses and how much time do they take?

Our online courses range in duration from 4 weeks for our Introduction to Field Guiding online course to 12 weeks for our FGASA Field Guiding online course

You should plan to commit 10 hours per week to your online course. This includes lectures, masterclasses, readings, quizzes and time to complete course material. The course is structured for minimal disruption to your daily life.

How many online courses do you offer?

We currently offer three online course options: 

*The FGASA Field Guiding online course is a combination of the Nature Enthusiast and Introduction to Field Guiding online courses.

How often do online courses meet?

Our online courses have once-weekly live sessions. These will be held at the same time every week and accessed using a Zoom link that will be send you ahead of time. 

Outside of our scheduled sessions, you’ll go through a self-paced program (with deadlines) on the Bushwise online course platform. This gives you the flexibility to go through our short videos (delivered by subject matter experts and guest speakers), learning assignments, quizzes and discussion forums in your own time.

What course materials do I need?

Your course fee covers all of your necessary learning materials, which will be delivered to you in an online format. If you’d like to do additional reading, we can recommend “A Game Ranger in Your Backpack,” “Tracker Manual” and “Beat About the Bush.”

What software do I need?

You’ll need a current email address and a computer with internet access. Our courses are hosted on Zoom – which you can either download or join directly through an internet browser (like Google Chrome, Safari or Firefox). We also use Canvas to deliver course information. But don’t worry! We’ll send you more details about this prior to the start date.

Where do I write the FGASA theory exam?

Students in our 12-week FGASA Field Guiding Online course will write their NQF2 theory exam – a big step toward becoming a qualified field guide. You will take the NQF2 Field Guide theory exam on the Bushwise online platform, which will take 2.5 hours. It will then be graded by FGASA, and you will receive a certificate if you achieve a result of 75% or higher. Please note that you can only take the exam a maximum of three times.

What happens if I miss a class?

We recommend you try to join the live sessions as it’s a great opportunity to get to know the lecturers and other students and meet our guest experts. However, if you miss a class, you can access the recordings on the Bushwise online course platform.

How long does it take to receive my certificate after the course?

You will receive your digital Bushwise certificates within seven working days after your final assignments have been completed and your course coordinator has reviewed your work. Please contact us if you experience delays.

Is the online course included with any of the in-person courses?

Yes – our 12-week online course is included for free with both the Bushwise Professional Field Guide and Bushwise 60-day Safari Guide courses. This allows you to prepare in advance, which will give you more time to have fun and learn practically in the bush!

Where are the campuses located?

Our wildlife courses are held at one of our campuses (Mahlahla and Kempiana) close to the Kruger National Park in South Africa. Please visit our campus pages to read more about these amazing locations.

Are the campuses safe from wild animals?

All of our campuses are fenced (with high electric game fences) to keep out dangerous predators. Because our campuses are located in wild spaces, and animals like leopards can still explore surrounding areas – which is why we do not allow students to walk on their own at night. 

As with most anywhere in the world, there are snakes, spiders, scorpions and other venomous creatures to be cautious of. Part of your training is identifying different species and keeping a respectful distance from all wild animals.

What do we do on the off weeks? Can my family visit?

During the Professional Field Guide course, you’ll get an off week every four weeks. Students often use this as an opportunity to travel in South Africa or neighbouring countries, with friends or family. Your family can definitely visit you during your off weeks. We don’t host families on campus, however we can provide suggestions for accommodation nearby.

What should I pack?

Before you come to campus, we’ll send a comprehensive packing list in your new student information pack. In the meantime if you want to invest in some new gear before you head this way, we offer a great list of suggestions in this helpful blog.

What other costs/spending money should I budget for?

We recommend budgeting between R2,000-3,000 per month or so, depending on what you do on your off-weeks. You can draw cash from ATMs (just be sure to notify your bank you’re travelling). Extra costs include certain beverages, special food, town trips, entertainment, bonus activities and additional uniforms.

International students doing a placement will need to get their South African drivers licence and PrDp (the PrDp applies to students over the age of 21 only). The price for the full process using an independent local driving school is around R5,000 (excluding transport costs). Bushwise will send more information to assist with the process. We recommend that South African students get their PrDp before the course.

What’s the Bushwise career guarantee?

We guarantee a permanent job offer for South African graduates between the ages of 21 and 39 within six months of completing the Bushwise Professional Field Guide course. If you do not get a job offer within six months of completing our year-long course, you can qualify for a 50% refund. Jobs include positions as field guides, junior reserve assistants and conservationists in Southern Africa. Read more about this unique Bushwise offering here.

What kind of support does Bushwise offer once I’ve graduated?

Bushwise Field Guides presents an industry first by offering all Bushwise Professional Field Guide and Safari Guide course graduates a complimentary recruitment service. Your chances of landing a permanent position in the safari industry are higher than ever. Learn more here.

Do alumni keep in touch?

Absolutely. We have an Alumni Facebook page (private and only for Alumni) and WhatsApp group where members can continue to chat long after their course is over. This is a great way to network with fellow field guides and people working in the ecotourism and conservation industries. We’ve found that Bushwise students form life-long friendships on our courses, so it’s great to keep in touch!


What qualifications can I get on the Professional Field Guide course?

Nationally recognised certificates and qualifications include:

  • FGASA Nature Site Guide NQF2 (formerly Apprentice Field Guide) certificate
  • FGASA Apprentice Trails Guide theory
  • FGASA Nature Site Guide NQF4 (formerly Field Guide) knowledge
  • CATHSSETA national qualification (NQF2) in Nature Guiding
  • SASSETA Firearm Proficiency (three Unit Standards)
  • Basic Wilderness First Aid – US ID: 119567: Perform Basic Life Support and First Aid Procedures
  • Cybertracker Track & Sign and Trailing qualifications (CATHSSETA)

In-house and other certificates:

  • Bushwise Professional Field Guide course certificate
  • Bushwise 4×4 driving qualification
  • Advanced Rifle Handling
  • Wildlife photography workshop
  • Bushwise birding specialist course
  • Reptile orientation course
  • Dangerous game experience
  • Social media in the ecotourism industry module

What qualifications can I get on the 60-day Safari Guide course?

Nationally recognised certificates and qualifications include:

  • FGASA Nature Site Guide NQF2 (formerly Apprentice Field Guide) certificate
  • CATHSSETA national qualification (NQF2) in Nature Guiding
  • Cybertracker Track and Sign and Trailing qualification (CATHSSETA)

In-house and other certificates:

  • Bushwise 60-day Safari Guide Certificate
  • Basic Wilderness First Aid – US ID: 119567: Perform Basic Life Support and First Aid Procedures
  • Reptile orientation course

Are FGASA qualifications recognised outside of South Africa?

FGASA stands for the Field Guides Association of Southern Africa. They are widely recognised as the gold standard in field guiding in southern Africa, especially in South Africa. As you travel further into Africa you will still find places where FGASA is highly respected, but you may need a different local qualification. The FGASA name will still carry weight around the world as it’s a well-respected and hard-earned qualification, a great thing to add to your CV or resume. Learn more about the different FGASA qualifications in this blog.

Do I need any previous qualifications to apply for a Bushwise course?

As a South African organisation, our minimum requirement is a 60% pass rate on your matric exams. For international students, this would typically be the equivalent of C average or above. You do not need to have prior wildlife or field guide experience to do a Bushwise course. 

How do I go from FGASA NQF2 to NQF4?

NQF4 is the stage above NQF2 in the FGASA hierarchy. Think of this like a bachelor’s degree and a second degree. You can only become NQF4 certified by gaining work experience and passing further exams. 

To become a qualified Nature Site Guide NQF4, you must accumulate a minimum of 260 days of practical active guiding experience as Nature Site Guide NQF2 (formerly Apprentice Field Guide). Once you feel you have the necessary skills and knowledge, you can apply to write your NQF4 exams directly with FGASA and complete the practical assessment. If you pass both and have a valid first aid certificate, you can then register as a Nature Site Guide NQF4. Find out more here.

What jobs will I qualify for with my FGASA certification?

The most common career path is to become an NQF2 qualified guide/entry-level field guide at a lodge or reserve. However, there are hundreds of job possibilities after you’ve graduated from Bushwise. You could work towards a career as a national park ranger, wildlife veterinarian, expedition leader, conservationist, researcher, tour guide and much more (additional qualifications may apply). To learn about all the different directions this course can take your career, visit this page on our website.


What is a placement?

A Bushwise placement is an optional (but highly recommended) add-on to your Professional Field Guide course. This is what takes you from a 23-week to a 50-week course. A placement gives you the opportunity to work in the industry and gain valuable experience. 

It also helps you build connections and network – essential for breaking into this competitive industry. You can also earn a work reference for this six month period. Find out more about placements here

Are the placements paid?

The work placement is not paid but includes accommodation, food and the opportunity to earn tips from guests. During this time, you can build on your Apprentice Trails Guide walking hours and encounters, and gain guiding hours to qualify as a Field Guide NQF4. 

What placements are available?

Placements are at a selection of prestigious lodges and game reserves in South Africa, like Africa on Foot, Thanda Portfolio, Greenfire Game Lodge, Siyafunda (Makalali), Kapama Private Game Reserve and Sibuya Game Reserve, as well as placements in neighbouring countries such as Namibia. We constantly grow our portfolio of placements to match our students’ skills and interests. Curious about what lodges and conservation organisations look for in a field guide? Check out this video.

Who gets a placement?

Any student on our 50-week Bushwise Professional Field Guide course can do a placement. We cannot guarantee placements for individuals over the age of 39. However, we will endeavour to find a placement for absolutely everyone who is interested.

For international students

How do I get to campus?

For international students, we offer a transfer service from the Johannesburg OR Tambo International Airport. This shuttle departs at 7am sharp on the first day of the course. We can recommend a guest house near the airport for the night before. If you require assistance with accommodation, please chat with your enrolment manager prior to arrival.

Do you get many international students?

We do! Students from all over the world have joined Bushwise courses. Around a third of our students are international, but this varies from year to year.

What are the visa requirements and does Bushwise help with this?

Students on our Bushwise 60-day Safari Guide course can come on a visitor’s visa. This covers any study or activity less than 90 days, and is issued to most visitors on arrival.

Those on our 23- and 50-week Bushwise Professional Field Guide course will need to apply for a study visa for the duration of your time in South Africa. This visa must cover the full course length, whether you are doing the 23- or 50-week option. 

The visa application process must be done in your home country at the South African embassy or consulate. You can find a list of study visa requirements online at the Department of Home Affairs website. Visa processing can take up to 12 weeks. Bushwise will supply you with a study visa support letter as well as important information related to the application process. 

Please note that it is your responsibility to obtain the relevant information and supply the necessary documents required for this visa application on time, as requested at the time of your course being confirmed. We recommend that you consult with a visa specialist for any advice or assistance with the application process. Bushwise cannot take responsibility for any embassy’s refusal to issue your study visa. In the rare event this happens, please consult with [email protected] for alternative options.

What is required in terms of vaccinations, insurance and malaria medication?

You will need travel and medical insurance coverage for the entire time you’re on course. A hospital plan should be sufficient and must include helicopter evacuation in the case of emergencies (this is covered by most medical aids/health insurance – but please check with your provider). 

Bushwise does not require any vaccines beyond the COVID-19 vaccine (at time of writing), however we recommend that you consult with your country’s health department to see if they require any vaccines for international travel. 

Kruger National Park is in a seasonal risk zone for malaria, and mosquito bite prevention is advised. We encourage all students to take precautions like mosquito nets and insect repellent. You can also take anti-malaria tablets if you feel it is necessary, but only once you have consulted with your general practitioner. 

Do I need to drive manual/stick shift?

Yes. All the vehicles that Bushwise and the other game lodges use are manual. All students must already hold a manual licence, with at least one year of relevant experience before their application can be considered. Students will be required to pass an internal driving test at Bushwise before they are allowed to drive company vehicles.

I’m not from South Africa. Can I work there?

In order to work legally in South Africa, you have to secure a work permit, critical skills permit or similar visa. There are a few ways to do this but the process is not easy. See this article for more. Bushwise does not assist with work visas. 

However, through your placement you may develop relationships with safari companies and build a valuable network. This is essential when trying to break into this competitive industry, whether you’re local or international! Some of our international students start as volunteers at lodges, reserves and conservation organisations. We can put you in touch with alumni if you’d like to chat with someone who has successfully found employment in South Africa.

Safety & Support

Is it safe living in the African bush?

Our campuses are located in safe and secure locations near Kruger National Park and Hoedspruit town. The campuses are within electric fence boundaries for your protection. We still encourage students to be vigilant at all times while on Bushwise property. This includes not walking alone at night or in the early or late hours when nocturnal animals may still be active. We will also provide you with a list of additional safety measures in your welcome packet.

Is South Africa safe?

As with anywhere in the world, it’s important to be vigilant and take safety precautions when travelling between destinations in South Africa. We understand that people have concerns about safety, particularly when travelling to South Africa from abroad. However, we prioritise your safety and will happily help put your mind at ease as you travel here!

As part of your orientation at Bushwise, we will walk you through our personal safety recommendations. This includes not carrying valuable items on your person in public, and always using trusted transportation options. We are happy to provide guidance in this regard, or have one-on-one discussions to address any specific concerns you may have. 

What kind of support is offered to students?

We prioritise the safety and wellbeing of all our students. Before you arrive on campus, our team will be in contact to ensure any personal needs are met on the ground. This includes a dedicated tutor who will work with you throughout the course to ensure you get the most out of your education. Our staff are available 24/7 on campus, so you can rest comfortably knowing that you have full-time support.

For more information on support after you finish a course, visit the section of our FAQs devoted to “After the course.”