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FGASA Level 1 Field Guide Course - 55 Days

Reserves in South Africa, Botswana and Victoria Falls
from £2,500 (55 days)

Ref: AC006

For anyone intending to become a Field Guide - or any other career within the wildlife industry - then this FGASA accredited 55 day course is for you!  Every minute of the course is structured to maximise your practical experience in the bush. A great opportunity for the adventurous type wanting to experience the excitement of the bush whilst gaining a greater understanding of how to interpret the ecology. Students should expect the unexpected while taking part in game drives and bush walks where they will see Africa at its very best. Training will be split between two wilderness camps, maximising exposure to different areas, wildlife, biomes and biodiversity. Although this course forms the foundation for a career in field guiding (and many other wildlife orientated careers) many students enrol onto this course for a gap year experience and students of 18+ years of age, who hold a valid driving licence and from all walks of life are welcome to join.

Who can join: 18 years and over
Accommodation: Thatched/Permanent Safari Tents
Transfer time:
Pick up Point: Transfer not included
Meals: Meals included
Volunteer numbers: approx. 20

Duration & Fees

55 days£2,500

Victoria Falls Course

55 days£3,200

South Africa and Botswana Courses

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Start Dates

2015 Start Dates:

11 Jan - 6 Mar (Karongwe 11 Jan - 9 Feb /Selati 9 Feb - 6 Mar)
13 Jan - 8 Mar (Selati 13 Jan - 9 Feb / Karongwe 9 Feb - 8 Mar)
7 Feb - 2 Apr (Mashatu 7 Feb - 6 Mar / Selati 6 Mar - 2 Apr)
8 Apr - 1 Jun (Selati 8 Apr - 1 May / Karongwe 1 May - 1 Jun)
1 May - 24 Jun (Selati 1 May - 1 Jun / Karongwe 1 Jun - 24 Jun)
7 Jul - 30 Aug (Selati 7 Jul - 3 Aug / Karongwe 3 Aug - 30 Aug)
8 Aug - 30 Sep (Selati 8 Aug - 3 Sep / Karongwe 3 Sep - 30 Sep)
7 Sep - 31 Oct (Selati 7 Sep - 4 Oct / Mashatu 4 Oct - 31 Oct)
8 Oct - 1 Dec (Selati 8 Oct - 5 Nov / Makuleke 5 Nov - 1 Dec)
30 Oct - 23 Dec (Karongwe 30 Oct - 14 Nov / Selati 14 Nov - 2 Dec / Mashatu 2 Dec - 23 Dec)

Payment

30% of course fee is required as a deposit at time of booking – the balance is due 12 weeks before departure

What's Included

  • Accommodation
  • Meals
  • Instructors and Training
  • Bush Walks
  • Tea, coffee and cordials
  • FGASA registration, exam fees and workbooks
  • Open vehicle drives and specialist trainer/s

What's not included

  • Transfers/transport to and from the camp, before and after the course
  • Any accommodation before and after the course
  • Beverages (beer, ciders, bottled water)
  • Kruger Park entrance fee (only applicable if the course is at the Kruger Makeluke camp)

The structure of the Field Guide Course aims to maximise the practical experience of students in the bush.  The course covers a broad spectrum of subjects in the form of daily lectures and practical activities out in the field.  Each day there will be hours spent in the field, looking at and interpreting the ecology whilst enjoying the wildlife experience.  Activities alternate between bush walks and game drives. Mid-day lectures involve topical instruction and discussion on the subject or game encounter of the day.  This is followed by personal study time and relaxation.   Telemetry, 4x4 driving skills, basic rifle handling and tracking are some of the exciting components of this course.  Students will be trained how to safely approach dangerous game on foot and how to manage dangerous game encounters with guests.  They will be equipped with techniques for proper binocular use and vehicle positioning for wildlife photography. 

Some subjects covered during the course:

  • Planning fo Game Drives and Walks
  • Navigation and Orientation
  • Radio Procedures
  • Ecology
  • Reptiles
  • Geology and Soil
  • Amphibians and Fish
  • Mammals
  • Weather and Climate
  • Animal Behaviour
  • Plant Communities
  • Career Opportunities
  • Plant Identification and Uses
  • Identification and Ecology of Invertebrates

Additional Activities

  • Basic 4x4 driving skills [not driving lessons, but an opportunity to drive the game viewing vehicle]
  • Sleep out in the bush
  • Fire Arm theory and practical shooting

Tests, Presentations and Evaluations

  • 3 x Written tests
  • 2 x Oral presentations
  • 2 x Practical evaluations: Walk evaluation, Game drive evaluation

Typical Daily Itinerary

A typical daily programme at the camp follows a routine of rising early, usually before sunrise, enjoying hot coffee while you listen to the bush waking up and then leaving the camp for an outing into the wilderness.

The outings are extremely flexible and determined by the unpredictability of what is found during the outing in combination with the subjects that have to be covered.  The outing could be a game drive following up on the roar of a lion heard during the night or a walk learning about the plant species occurring in the area.  It could be a walk following fresh elephant tracks, learning how to track the animal and finding it or it could be a game drive to a waterhole where animals come to drink.
  
Students return to camp in the late morning for a hearty brunch which is followed by a lecture on the subject of the day.  Study and rest time is then followed by afternoon tea and another outing into the wilderness until sunset, if walking, or until well after dark if doing a game drive.

Afternoon outings could include night drives looking for nocturnal animals such as owls, bushbabies and leopards or it could be a walk looking for and learning how to identify interesting birds.  It could be time spent studying the night skies or it could be a time for students to test their 4x4 driving skills.

It is then back to the camp for dinner, stories around the campfire, discussing the day’s experiences and wondering about tomorrow’s adventures.

The emphasis is on practical day-to-day experiences in the bush.  The daily outings are flexible and may focus on specific subjects such as animal tracks and tracking, birds, plant identification or animal behaviour, or may involve game viewing and learning about the ecosystem in general.

Certification and Accreditation

The following accreditation is optional and is more relevant to those who wish to pursue a career in guiding and become a Safari Guide in Southern Africa.

For students who do not plan to take up field guiding as a career  then writing and passing the course tests and practical evaluations listed above is sufficient in order to complete the course and receive a certificate from the course provider.  

For those students who do wish to take the officially recognised FGASA certification aspect of the course, they will need to become a paid up annual member of a Southern African association and register for the exam.  FGASA registration. subscriptions for the first year and exam fees are included in the course fee. If attendees choose this option they must be willing to work hard during their free time and will then, in addition to the tests and evaluations above write the FGASA Level 1 theory exam and do the practical evaluation while on course.  The pass mark for the FGASA theory exam is 75%.

With the Field Guide Courses being accredited by FGASA who have THETA accreditation, this means that the courses meet THETA standards. THETA is the Tourism and Hospitality and Sport Education Training Authority of the South African Government. These are the two bodies responsible for regulating standards within the guide training industry in southern Africa.

For more information regarding FGASA membership, registration and certification, please contact us for a separate detailed document that you will need. You will need to complete application forms and send these with a JPEG photo to Amanzi Travel as soon as possible after booking your place on the course.

Location and Environment

The accommodation camps are designed to allow students to get up close and personal with their environment. The camps are of uncluttered and authentic game reserve style, and as they are completely unfenced there are occasional nocturnal visitors, especially hyena - hence the sounds of the bush are literally right outside the accommodation!   They also provide a perfect opportunity to practice tracking skills through and around the camp each morning, as students have woken up in the morning to find the tracks of elephant, leopard or lion.

The climate over most of Southern Africa is temperate. Hot, dry conditions are usually encountered in the Tuli region. Heavy summer thunderstorms of short duration in the late afternoon and evening may be experienced. Rainfall occurs mostly during the summer months (October - March).

Extra Information

Getting There

For most camps students should arrange their flights into and out of Johannesburg (OR Tambo) Airport. From here Amanzi Travel can arrange your transfers to the camp via the Bush Bus. Full details and costs will be in provided in your pre-departure pack. 

For students whose course is at the Nakavango Camp at Victoria Falls, they should arrange their flight into Victoria Falls International Airport no later than 3.00 pm and are advised to arrive one day before the official start date of the course and overnight in camp, at no additional charge, to make sure they are present for the start of the course.   

Amanzi Travel holds an ATOL licence and we can arrange any flight requirements that you have upon request.

A perfect way to explore more of Africa

Before heading straight back home, why not take an Overland Journey through Africa to explore more of the wonderful sights and experiences that this beautiful continent has to offer.  You can take a trip that starts and finishes in the same city (eg Windhoek to Windhoek) or you can use it as an opportunity to get your from one city to another (eg Cape Town to Nairobi).

“This has got to be the best way to see Africa in a short period of time ... brilliant. The guides were fantastic, the campsites great, and the food excellent. The overland trip was excellent - really well run”
Southern Sun 21 days, Cape Town to Victoria Falls - Jennie and Stuart, Sweden, aged 32 and 34.

“I didn’t know I could become such close friends with people in just a week. The trip attracts a great group of people who are so easy to get along with. My group ranged from 20 to 70 and we all sat down with a drink, played cards together and just gathered around the campfire.  It was an experience of a lifetime and I will definitely recommend this to my friends and family”
Tanzanian Game Parks and Zanzibar, 10 Days and Masai Mara Safari, 3 Days - Sara, Canada/Malaysia, aged 20.

 From 3 days to 56 days, take a look at the exciting Overland Trips here.

Support and Orientation

Support and advice is available from Amanzi Travel office staff and project/trip leaders. Upon booking, you will receive a comprehensive pre-departure pack that provides all the details you will need to prepare for your trip to Africa.  This document includes information on accommodation, staff, visas, optional activities, packing checklist and medical advice and if you have any questions that are not answered in the pack we are always on hand to help and advise. We will do all we can to ensure that you are well prepared and looking forward to your trip to Africa. You will also receive an in country orientation on arrival.

A 24 hours a day, 7 days a week emergency contact number is provided for everyone who travels with us.

Amanzi Travel holds an ATOL licence (9401) and is able to arrange your flights on request giving you financial protection for your flight and trip costs. We also offer advice on personal travel insurance for your trip.

Reserves in South Africa, Botswana and Victoria Falls, FGASA Level 1 Field Guide Course - 55 DaysReserves in South Africa, Botswana and Victoria Falls, FGASA Level 1 Field Guide Course - 55 DaysReserves in South Africa, Botswana and Victoria Falls, FGASA Level 1 Field Guide Course - 55 DaysReserves in South Africa, Botswana and Victoria Falls, FGASA Level 1 Field Guide Course - 55 DaysReserves in South Africa, Botswana and Victoria Falls, FGASA Level 1 Field Guide Course - 55 DaysReserves in South Africa, Botswana and Victoria Falls, FGASA Level 1 Field Guide Course - 55 DaysThe course takes place in bush camps in South Africa, Botswana and Victoria Falls that collectively have access to 91,000 hectares of untamed and stunning African bush.  Depending on which of the camps your training programme takes place, there will be opportunities to view and interact with buffalo, elephant, rhino, lion and leopard as well as a huge variety of antelope and bird life. The accommodation camps are designed to allow everyone to get up close and personal with the environment. They are authentic game reserve camps and are unfenced allowing the occasional nocturnal visitor. This means the sounds of the bush will literally be right outside the accommodation and provides a perfect opportunity to practice tracking skills through and around the camp each morning.

Below is information on accommodation at all the camps where the courses take place. Please contact Amanzi Travel to confirm dates and camps for your booking.

Karongwe Camp, Hoedspruit Area

Karongwe Camp is on the banks of the Karongwe River (mostly a dry river bed) in the 9 000 hectare Karongwe Game Reserve, which is to the south-west of the Kruger National Park. It has spectacular undulating hills, valleys and broad-leafed woodland.

The camp consists of 10 walk-in style Meru tents, with twin beds, supplied bedding and mosquito nets. There are shared ablution facilities and a central communal area.

There are viewing decks in the central area of the camp, and many students choose to make the viewing decks their “bedroom” for part of or for the full duration of the course. The central communal area is made up of 4 tall thatch-roofed open-sided decks which forms a square that encloses an open campfire area. One of the deck structures serves as the open air dining area, lecture room and study area. Two decks remain open to welcome the adventurous who want to spend their nights as close to nature as possible, while the last deck is home to your head instructor.

Hyena make nightly patrols of the camp and are often seen by participants who choose to make one of the viewing decks their home for the duration of the course.  Elephant, cheetah and lion have also made appearances on occasion.

Makuleke Camp, Pafuri, Northern Kruger National Park

The camp is situated in the Makuleke concession between the Limpopo and Luvuvhu Rivers, This is a true wilderness area, steeped in history and situated in the remotest part of Kruger in one of the most biologically diverse areas. Scenery ranges from the beautiful, quietly-flowing Luvuvhu River shaded by Nyala trees and fever tree forests and teeming with hippos and crocodiles; to the awesome Lanner Gorge, palm-fringed wetlands and rocky outcrops with thousand-year-old baobab trees. Members of the Makuleke community are employed at the camp.

Accommodation is in safari style walk-in tents on wooden decks covered with thatch in the shade of nyala trees. Each unit has a verandah overlooking the surrounding bush and an en-suite bathroom with a flush toilet, shower and basin. Bedding and mosquito nets are provided. The central communal area consists of a thatch-roofed open sided deck where all meals, lectures and studying takes place. A clearing for evening camp fires creates an idyllic setting for social and leisure time.

Selati Camp

The Selati Camp is situated on the banks of the Selati River in the Selati Game Reserve to the west of the Kruger National Park. Selati is a great place for viewing lion, white rhino and elephant. General game is plentiful and you might even get to see the large herd of eland, as well as the rare sable antelope. The dominant vegetation type is woodland and to the east are large granite koppies (hills) where Black eagles and Klipspringer can be found.

Participants share twin walk in style tents. Students need to bring their own bedding for their time at this camp and mosquito nets at not provided There are shared bathroom facilities and a central communal area overlooking the Selati River. The central communal area consists of a thatch-roofed open sided deck where all meals, lectures and studying takes place. A clearing for evening camp fires creates a great place for student leisure time.

Mashatu Camp

Situated in the Tuli Reserve of Botswana bordering South Africa, which is an area of outstanding natural beauty with majestic rocks, diverse vegetation, abundant wildlife, a profusion of birds and a rich archaeological hertitage. The ample plains range from savannah, to riverine forest, marshland and sandstone outcrops amongst giant baobab trees, a wholly preserved and untainted wilderness. Mashatu truly embodies all that defines Africa. 

Participants share twin tents. Students need bring to their own bedding and there are no mosquito nets at the camp. There are shared bathroom facilities and a central communal area overlooking the dry river bed ideal for evening campfires and socialising.

Victoria Falls Camp

The Nakavango Conservation Centre nestles alongside an “oxbow” of the Masuie River, a tributary of the great Zambezi River in the 2500 hectare (6000 acre) Stanley and Livingstone Private Game Reserve.  Just ten kilometers away are the Victoria Falls – one of the seven natural wonders of the world! The Masuie River is the primary river flowing through the Stanley and Livingstone Private Game Reserve, incorporating the Nakavango Dam along its course, the dam being a vital water source for game in the dry season. One of the tributaries of the Masuie River within the reserve is the Nakavango River, from which the student centre and original name of the property (Nakavango Estate) take their names. The Masuie winds its way along the western boundary of the reserve, exiting into the Zambezi River, downstream of the Victoria Falls. Approximately 57% of the reserve’s vegetation is made up of Zambezi Teak forest in the east, thriving on and stabilising the ancient Kalahari sand dunes in the reserve. The topography then drops down into the Masuie River valley, comprised of basaltic soil and a few sodic areas, with the vegetation representing typical savanna bushveld, including areas of mopane scrub.

Course participants are accomodated on the Nakavango Conservation Centre in the Stanley and Livingstone Private Game Reserve. Accommodaiton is in 20 single rooms (9 allocated to nature guiding students), with shared ablutions and supplied bedding (single beds with sheets, a duvet, two pillows and a spare blanket for the colder months). Each room has a ceiling fan. We do not have mosquito nets.

General – All Camps

All of the camps have sleeping arrangements for 2 people sharing (accept the Victoria Falls Camp which is single rooms).  Sharing is on a single sex basis unless booked as a couple. 

There is no electricity at any of the camps – paraffin lamps are used for all lighting and a generator is used to charge camera batteries and cell phones. The kitchen is equipped with gas fridges for storage of all perishable food items.

Fresh, drinkable water is available from the taps.
Soft drinks and alcoholic beverages are sold at the camp
A laundry service is provided by the camp and is included in the course fee

Meals
 

Early morning wake-up: Tea, coffee, biscuits and fresh fruit
Brunch after activity:  Cooked breakfast, cereals and fruit
Afternoon tea:  Light snacks
Dinner:  A balanced, warm plated meal (e.g. meat, vegetables, salad)

Click here to view the full interactive mapBotswana - Book Your Experience of a Lifetime

Why visit Botswana?

Botswana is a land of dramatic contrasts, from the crystal clear waters of the Okavango Delta, to the large elephant herds in the Chobe National Park, the abundant birdlife in Moremi Game Reserve and the vast savannah of the Kalahari desert, which covers over 70% of the country. It is no wonder that Botswana has become one of the fastest growing economies in the world.

Surrounded by the sands of the Kalahari Desert is the magical oasis of the Okavango Delta, the world’s largest inland delta, formed by ancient seismic shifting of the earth's surface. Wide grassy floodplains are host to a magnificent array of wild animals. Within this lacework of channels, game viewing and bird watching is frequently guided from mokoro (dugout canoes) or more commonly, environmentally-friendly fibreglass replicas. In these slender flat-bottomed craft, visitors are propelled by expert polers.

Chobe National Park, approximately 62 miles due west of Victoria Falls, is abundant with wildlife all year round, and features the beautiful Chobe River on its northern boundary. Throughout the area numerous clay-bottomed pans hold water during the short rainy season. During the rainy season, from November, one can witness the zebra migration from the north-western area of Linyanti heading south through the Savute plains to the salt pans around Makgadikgadi, where the foals are born. The herds then return to Linyanti between February and April.

The Kalahari Game Reserve is one of the most remote and unspoiled parts of Africa. At certain times of the year, usually during the summer rains, the northern section of the Park is one of the prime game viewing areas of Botswana, not to mention the breathtaking landscapes that await discovery.

Highlights of Botswana

  • Seventeen percent of Botswana is comprised of pristine national reserves, featuring some of Africa's most beautiful subtropical wilderness, generally teeming with wildlife.
  • A land of awesome contrasts - from the vast plains of the Kalahari Desert to the crystal clear waters of the world's largest inland delta, the Okavango Delta.
  • Game viewing by mokoro (dugout canoe) in the Delta is unforgettable.
  • Sunshine totals are high all year round, although winter is still the sunniest period.
  • Chobe National Park is home to the mighty Chobe River and what is arguably the world's largest concentration of elephants.
  • View Botswana’s annual zebra migration in the Linyanti and Savute areas.
  • Moremi Game Reserve is renowned for its superb birdlife.
  • The game-filled Central Kalahari Game Reserve, at 54,600 km2, is Botswana's largest reserve.

Climate

Seasons Max Min
Summer/wet (October -April) 45 °C 25 °C
Winter/dry ( May - September) 26 °C 0 °C
Rainfall: November - March

Botswana is semi-arid, due to the short rain season. It experiences extremes in both temperature and weather.

In the winter (late May through September), days are normally clear, warm and sunny, and nights are cool to cold, with average temperatures of around 14 °C. The whole country is windy and dusty during the dry season. Wildlife never wanders far from water sources, so sightings are more predictable than in the wetter summer season. This is also the time of school holidays, so some areas can be busy, especially between mid-July and mid-September.

In summer (October to April), Botswana has hot summers with average temperatures around 26 °C. Wildlife can be harder to spot and rains can render sandy roads impassable. This is also the time of the highest humidity and the most stifling heat, where daytime temperatures of over 40°C are common, so the magnificent afternoon showers can be a welcome relief.

The main rains fall between December and March, but often just in the form of brief thundershowers that last an hour or two before the sun re-emerges. The sunlight after an African storm is incredibly intense and superb for wildlife photography. The summer rains also bring spectacular migrant birds to Botswana.

Key Facts

Population – 2 million
Capital - Gaborone
Currency –pula (BWP)
Official Language(s) – English and Setswana

Time difference – GMT +2 hours
Telephone – country code 267, international access code 00

Click here to view the full interactive mapSouth Africa - Help Local Communities Get Started

Why visit South Africa?

Every country in the world displays some diversity, but South Africa, stretching from the hippos in the Limpopo River to the penguins waddling on the Cape, takes some beating. There’s the deserted Kalahari, Namakwa’s springtime symphony of wildflowers, iconic Table Mountain and Cape Point, Africa’s biggest game reserve - Kruger National Park - boasting the most mammal species of any game reserve, and the magnificent peaks and plunging valleys of the escarpment of Drakensberg.

Cape Town is widely described as one of the world's most beautiful cities. Some of its more famous landmarks include Table Mountain, Robben Island (where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned for decades), Cape Point, Chapman’s Peak, Kirstenbosch Gardens and the Victoria and Alfred Waterfront. A combination of historical coastal charm and urbane sophistication, Cape Town has some of the finest beaches and is also the gateway to the lush Cape Winelands, famous for world-renowned wines. From here, it is an easy journey to the Whale Route, where Southern Right whales can be seen (June - November) and humpback whales, Bryde's whales, Minke whales and bottlenose dolpins can be viewed year round.

The Garden Route is renowned for its beaches, indigenous forests, nature reserves, lakes, mountain ranges, adventure opportunities and hiking trails. Plettenberg Bay is a relaxed beach paradise with spectacular walks and hikes where one can watch dolphins and whales on eco-marine cruises. With some of the world's finest beaches, the Eastern Cape's untouched and pristine coastline also has a rich social, cultural and political history. Port Elizabeth is the gateway to the Eastern Cape, and the perfect complement to the Garden Route. Cape St Francis is situated on the Indian Ocean coastline, in and around Africa's largest man made web of canals and waterways, and is renowned for its long, sandy beaches, surfing, rock fishing and tranquil lifestyle.

Kruger National Park is the flagship of South Africa's game reserves, offering an unrivalled wildlife experience over two million-hectares. Private concessions operating within and alongside Kruger National Park feature luxurious, exclusive game lodges with many exciting safari activities. Some of these lodges are unfenced, allowing for the free movement of wildlife. Madikwe Game Reserve, in the North West province, is one of South Africa's largest private Big Five game reserves and features numerous lodges and camps. The Waterberg area in the northwest is also malaria-free and is aptly named for its strong streams that flow even in dry seasons, making for excellent game viewing. Both reserves are great for those seeking an accessible malaria-free wilderness experience.

Durban is a sub-tropical city and the gateway to KwaZulu-Natal. It offers a unique mix of Zulu, Indian and colonial cultures. Visit the Anglo-Zulu battlefields, take a fascinating glimpse into Zulu culture, hike in the beautiful Drakensberg Mountains, dive the reefs, marine and coastal reserves of Maputaland, as well as experience Big Five game reserves. The Hluhluwe-Umfolozi Game Reserve is renowned for saving the white rhino from the brink of extinction, and Phinda Private Game Reserve is well known for its award-winning lodges and conservation initiatives.

Johannesburg meaning "Place of Gold", is South Africa's economic powerhouse. This vibrant and cosmopolitan city is home to many attractions including the Apartheid Museum and Constitution Hill, and also offers shopping from world-class to atmospheric curio markets. Known as the "Jacaranda City", the state capital of Pretoria features beautiful blossoming trees, significant old buildings and fascinating museums, including the Transvaal Museum, home of Mrs Ples, the australopithecine fossil found at the Cradle of Humankind.

Highlights of South Africa

  • Breathtaking scenery, quaint coastal villages, cosmopolitan cities, wine routes and exclusive bush lodges.
  • Exciting Big Five safaris in unspoilt wilderness areas.
  • Malaria-free game viewing and sunshine all year round.
  • See Robben Island, where Nelson Mandela was held in prison for 27 years.
  • Go up Table Mountain by cable car for stunning views of the Atlantic Ocean and beautiful Cape Town.
  • Whale watching and great white shark cage diving.
  • Beautiful, pristine beaches perfect for swimming and sunbathing.
  • The Cradle of Humankind: Sterkfontein is one of the world's most productive and important palaeoanthropological sites.

Climate

For Johannesburg:

Seasons Max Min
Summer (September - April) 25 °C 10 °C
Winter (May - August) 19 °C 4 °C
Rainfall: October to March, with November to January heaviest


South Africa has typical seasons of weather for the southern hemisphere, with the coldest days in July-August. The Benguela Current, a cold motion that moves from the lower South Atlantic Ocean, causes moderate temperatures on the West Coast. On the central plateau, which includes Free State and Gauteng provinces, the altitude keeps the average temperatures below 30 °C.In winter, also due to altitude, temperatures drop to freezing point, and in some places, even lower. Heavy snows have fallen recently for the first time in decades in Johannesburg. During winter, it is warmest in the coastal regions, especially on the Eastern Indian Ocean coast and Garden Route, where it has year round mild weather with occasional rain. As winter is cooler and drier, it is more suitable for hiking and outdoor pursuits, and is also a good time for game viewing as vegetation is less dense and thirsty animals congregate around rivers and other permanent water sources.

In summer, South Africa experiences the hottest temperatures and this is generally when most rain falls, October – March. However, there is one exception -  the Western Cape, which is a winter-rain area that enjoys a Mediterranean climate (average 26°C).

Christmas to mid-January, and Easter are the height of the peak season for visitors.
Autumn (April/May) and Spring (mid-Sept to November) are ideal almost everywhere.

Key Facts

Population – 50 million

Capital – Pretoria (executive), Bloemfontein (judicial), Cape Town (legislative)
Currency – Rand (ZAR)

Official Language(s) – Afrikaans, English (South African English), Southern Ndebele, Northern Sotho, Southern Sotho, Swazi, Tsonga, Tswana, Venda, Xhosa, Zulu
Time difference – GMT +2 hours

Telephone – country code 27, international access code 00

FGASA Level 1 Field Guide Course - 55 Days

The trip was... mind-blowing. It would not be excessive to describe it as life-changing. It's been a few weeks since I got back, and I am still reeling. It seems unreal.  Thanks for enabling me to make this incredible experience. 

Hendrick, Germany aged 21 (FGASA Level 1 Field Guide Course - 55 Days)

FGASA Level 1 Field Guide Course - 55 Days

Thank you all for a truly fantastic experience.  I must say that this was one of the most fantastic, wonderful, interesting and life changing experiences I’ve had.  It has made me want to learn more and I would love to return one day – soon!!  Makuleke is such a beautiful place!  I hope that it stays this way for a long time to come.  Thank you for making our stay so wonderful.

Sarah, USA (FGASA Level 1 Field Guide Course - 55 Days)

FGASA Level 1 Field Guide Course - 55 Days

I am eternally grateful to all the instructors for the amount and quality of knowledge they shared with me. They truly inspired me with their genuine passion and love for the environment.  Brilliant!!  I still cannot believe how much I have learnt in such a short period of time.  The interactive manner in which we were taught was incredibly beneficial

Tamlyn, UK (FGASA Level 1 Field Guide Course - 55 Days)

FGASA Level 1 Field Guide Course - 55 Days

A month I shall always remember - it enhanced my love of the bush and stoked an interest in it.

Ben, UK, aged 27 (Safari Guide Course - 28 Day, FGASA Level 1 Field Guide Course - 55 Days)

FGASA Level 1 Field Guide Course - 55 Days

A profound experience that taught me to see nature instead of only looking at it. I now have a better understanding of all interacting parts that form an ecosystem and how they are connected. An exciting new world has opened up!

Jaap 2008 (Safari Guide Course - 28 Day, FGASA Level 1 Field Guide Course - 55 Days)

FGASA Level 1 Field Guide Course - 55 Days

I wanted to write and let you know just how wonderful the course is. Jason and I had a really amazing month and believe that the course is extremely valuable for our future in the industry. We had no idea when applying for the course just how intensive it is, but the knowledge that we gained was not only interesting but will be applicable in our everyday life... The instructors were fantastic and amazed me everyday with his enthusiasm and knowledge of the bush. It takes special people to do the same thing over and over but with such passion. We really cannot thank them enough. I now look at the bush with a new perspective!!!  We made some wonderful friends, who I know we will keep in touch with, and we had an amazing month

Michaela and Jason, aged 20 and 21 (Safari Guide Course - 28 Day, FGASA Level 1 Field Guide Course - 55 Days)

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