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Course structure

The FGASA (Field Guides Association of Southern Africa) Nature Site Guide NQF2 (formerly Apprentice Field Guide or Level 1) qualification is the first major qualification for all field guides operating in this area. With this qualification, you’ll be capable of observing and interpreting the major living and nonliving features of a natural environment from an elementary scientific and cultural perspective. As a general guideline, a field guide has a sound knowledge of the history, geology, and fauna and flora in a specific area of guiding operation.


The Bushwise Professional Field Guide course is well-aligned with the FGASA objectives. This course varies between classroom-based theory and practical sessions, and has been carefully put together to achieve an even balance between theory and practice. During the course, students will write their FGASA NQF2 exams and undergo their practical assessment to become fully-qualified Nature Site Guides.

In our carefully crafted training program, Bushwise goes beyond the FGASA qualification to teach students additional skills that make them highly-desired job candidates. Beyond the traditional FGASA syllabus and classroom learning, Bushwise students gain practical field experience and skills.

We aim to expose our students to real-world exercises, which they will use throughout their career. This includes 4×4 skills, track and sign, trailing, birding specialist training, hospitality and industry skills, social media training, wilderness first aid, and advanced rifle handling, among others. As many potential employers look for these skills in candidates, we want to ensure our students rise to the top of the class. 

We pride ourselves on our ‘Students@heart’ policy, with courses that are enjoyable and informative, while ensuring the employability of our students. Bushwise graduates walk into their chosen careers with confidence and the respected Bushwise name behind them.

The first three months of the program are focused on empowering you with knowledge of the bush, through both practical drives and lectures. Each week will focus on a different module to shape you into a well-rounded field guide. At the end of each week, students are tested on that week’s module before moving onto the next one.

The 23-week program is divided into four-week blocks, with a week off in between for some well-earned R&R. Our 60-day Safari Guide course is a condensed version of this program, which also allows learners to earn their FASA NQF2 and additional qualifications.





    • The field guide is able to conduct a guided nature experience in a limited geographical area.

    • The field guide is able to create a guided experience for customers.

    • The Nature Guide Learner Manual – Grant & Gillie Hine

    • The Guiding Skills Manual – Grant Hine

    • The FGASA Field Guide (NQF2) Study Guide Learner Workbook

    • Beat about the Bush (Mammals) – Trevor Carnaby

    • Beat about the Bush (Birds) – Trevor Carnaby

    • Grasses & Grazers of Botswana and the surrounding Savanna – Veronica Roodt

    • Guide to Grasses of Southern Africa – Fritz van Oudtshoorn

    • The Story of Life & the Environment – Jo Van As. et al

    • Tracks and Signs – Lee Gutteridge and Louis Liebenberg

    • workbook completion

    • theory examination

    • practical assessment

FGASA modules

The following modules with their specific outcomes are covered on the course. For each topic, you’ll attend a lecture. The lecture is supported by practical sessions during the next two weeks. This ensures the knowledge is embedded in your memory.

  • You will learn about:

    • people management and interpersonal relationships

    • establishing and attending to the needs, limitations, and expectations of guests

    • planning and creating a guided experience using local natural heritage resources with avoidance of simple stereotyping

    • interpretation techniques and presentation skills

    • developing professional values and ethics to ensure sustainable tourism.

  • 2.1) Geology

    • You will learn about the structure of the earth and the geology of the area of operation.

    • You will learn about the formation of common rock types, their characteristics, and the interrelationships between rocks, soil, climate, and vegetation.

    • You will learn about highlighting and interpreting distinctive geological features in the area.

    2.2) Weather and climate

    • You will learn about the general climate and weather patterns of South Africa.

    • You will learn about wind conditions, their origin and their impact.

    • You will learn about cloud formations and associated weather.

    • You will learn about general climatic conditions and their influences on weather systems.

    2.3) Astronomy

    • You will learn about identifying prominent stars, planets, and constellations.

    • You will learn about myths and legends surrounding phenomena found in the night skies.

    2.4) Ecology

    • You will learn about animal behaviour patterns, and ecological principles.

    • You will learn about identifying special plants, and their ecological associations.

    • You will learn about pollination associations.

    • You will learn about energy flow in ecosystems.

    2.5) Plants and grasses

    • You will learn about the practical identification of indicator trees, grasses, shrubs, and flowers.

    • You will learn about myths and legends surrounding the origin of names of various species of plants.

    • You will learn about the medicinal uses of certain plants.

    • You will learn about cultural beliefs around certain plants.

    2.6) Arthropods

    • You will learn about species identification and classification of anthropods, at an elementary scientific level.

    2.7) Fish

    • You will learn about the identification of common species of fish.

    • You will learn about the anatomy of fish.

    • You will learn about the roles fish play in an ecosystem.

    2.8) Animals

    • You will learn about the identification, feeding, behaviour, breeding, predation, avoidance, and courtship behaviour of animals.

  • You’ll learn about:

    • explaining and demonstrating various conservation practices used in the natural environment

    • practices such as bush encroachment, the use of fire as a management tool, erosion control, and more.

  • You’ll learn about:

    • identifying and explaining evidence of human habitation

    • the cultural history of your area of practice

    • demonstrating the use of ancient artifacts

  • You’ll learn about:

    • the safe use of equipment, such as heavy-duty jacking devices, puncture repairs, changing of flat tyres, and checking fluid levels

    • the basic and advanced driving techniques used over rough terrain

    • the ethical use of a spotlight

    • the best method for approaching dangerous game by vehicle and on foot.

  • You’ll learn about:

    • the techniques for operating a safari vehicle in off-road conditions, through in-depth training

    • the steps to take to recover vehicles in muddy conditions

    • the emergency actions that must be used for situations such as mechanical breakdowns in dangerous animal territory.

  • You’ll learn about:

    • wine pairing

    • table setups for sundowner stops and morning coffee breaks

    • hosting etiquette and tips.

  • You’ll learn about:

    • the theory of rifle-use

    • building muscle memory and instilling safety awareness through extensive “dry run drills”

    • the live fire accuracy and speed of rifles, through practising under strict supervision.

  • You’ll learn through:

    • an intensive combination of lectures and practical training of first aid techniques, for three days before the assessment

    • weekly first aid staged scenarios, both on campus and in the reserve, managed by staff.

  • You’ll learn about:

    • the identification of animal, bird and invertebrate tracks

    • the identification of signs of feeding

    • the identification of droppings

    • the identification of territorial markings.

  • You’ll learn about:

    • basic photography techniques

    • use of lighting, focus and composition

    • the techniques to position a safari vehicle on a game drive for the best guest experience.

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