Bushwise field guide courses are based
on the official FGASA syllabus


Bushwise field guide courses are based
on the official FGASA syllabus

Course structure

The Field Guides Association of South Africa (FGASA) Apprentice Field Guide (NQF2) qualification allows a field guide to achieve the ability to identify the major living, and non-living features of the natural environment in which s/he operates. You’ll be able to interpret them at a level based mainly on observation, from an elementary scientific and cultural perspective. As a general guideline, a field guide (NQF2) has a sound knowledge of the history, geology, and fauna and flora in a specific area of guiding operation. Bushwise has a course structure in place that ensures we are aligned with the FGASA objectives. The course varies between classroom-based theory and practical sessions.

The proportions will depend on the module and course requirements. The course has been carefully put together to achieve an even balance between theory and practice.

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, all 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 to rest between each block.


FGASA Apprentice Field Guide (NQF2) Certificate consists of the following outcomes:

  • 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.

Compulsory learning materials provided by Bushwise when you sign up:

  • The Nature Guide Learner Manual – Grant & Gillie Hine
  • The Guiding Skills Manual – Grant Hine
  • The FGASA Field Guide (NQF2) Study Guide Learner Workbook

Recommended books to improve your knowledge:

  • 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

Each module is assessed through:

  • 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.

1) Creating a guided nature experience


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) Conducting a guided nature experience in a limited geographical area

2.1) Geology

  • the structure of the earth and geology of the area of operation
  • formation of common rock types, their characteristics, and the interrelationships between rocks, soil, climate, and vegetation
  • highlighting, and interpreting distinctive geological features in the area.

2.2) Weather and climateYou will learn about:

  • the general climate and weather patterns of South Africa
  • wind conditions, their origin and impact
  • cloud formations and associated weather
  • general climatic conditions and their influences on weather systems.

2.3) Astronomy

  • identifying prominent stars, planets, and constellations
  • myths and legends surrounding phenomena found in the night skies.

2.4) Ecology

  • animal behaviour patterns, and ecological principles
  • identifying special plants, and their ecological associations
  • pollination associations
  • energy flow in ecosystems.

2.5) Plants and grasses

  • practical identification of indicator trees, grasses, shrubs, and flowers
  • myths and legends surrounding the origin of names of various species
  • medicinal uses
  • cultural beliefs.

2.6) Arthropods

  • species identification  and classification at an elementary scientific level

2.7) Fish

  • identification of common species
  • anatomy
  • ecological roles

2.8) Animals

  • identification, feeding, behaviour, breeding, predation, avoidance, and courtship behaviour

3) Conservation management

You’ll learn about:

  • explaining and demonstrating various conservation practices used in the natural environment
  • practices such as bush encroachment, use of fire as a management tool, erosion control, and more.

4) Historical human habitation

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

5) Driving skills and basic mechanics

You’ll learn about:

  • knowledge and safe use of equipment, such as heavy-duty jacking devices, puncture repairs, changing of flat tyres, and checking fluid levels
  • basic and advanced driving techniques over rough terrain
  • ethical use of spotlight
  • approaching dangerous game by vehicle and on foot.

6) 4x4 training

You’ll learn about:

  • techniques for operating a safari vehicle in off-road conditions, through in-depth training
  • recovery of vehicles in muddy conditions
  • emergency actions for situations such as mechanical breakdowns in dangerous animal territory.

7) Hospitality and hosting basics in a lodge environment

You’ll learn about:

  • wine pairing
  • table setups for sundowner stops and morning coffee breaks
  • hosting etiquette and tips.

8) Rifles and rifle handling

You’ll learn about:

  • theory of rifle-use
  • building muscle memory and to instilling safety awareness through extensive “dry run drills”
  • live fire accuracy and speed, through practising under strict supervision.

9) Bush first aid skills

You’ll learn about:

  • an intensive combination of lecture and practical training of first aid techniques for three days before assessment
  • weekly first aid staged scenarios, both on campus and reserve, managed by staff.

10) Tracking (Cybertracker Track and Sign)

You’ll learn about:

  • identification of animal, bird, and invertebrate tracks
  • identification of feeding signs
  • identification of droppings
  • identification of territorial markings.

11) Wildlife photography

You’ll learn about:

  • basic photography techniques
  • use of lighting, focus and composition
  • techniques to position a safari vehicle on a game drive for guest experience.