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Eastern Cape Field Guide FGASA Level 1 - 8 Weeks

Eastern Cape, South Africa
£2,795 (8 weeks)

Ref: AC004

This 8 week field guide course takes place on a beautiful Game Reserve on South Africa’s Eastern Cape and will equip all participants with the practical training and theoretical lessons needed to become a qualified field guide.  It overlaps with the Big 5 Wildlife and Conservation experience and initially course participants will take part in many of the activities on the volunteer programme.  This will allow participants to learn about the fundamental importance of nature conservation whilst they master their skills in the African bush.  There will also be regular lecfures and training and by successfully completing the 8 week course, the FGASA Level 1 qualification can be achieved, plus First Aid Level 1.  An exciting opportunity to train on a stunning game reserve with a dedicated big cat breeding centre for lions and tigers.

Who can join: 18 years and over
Accommodation: Dedicated course participant lodge
Transfer time: approx. 1-2 hours
Pick up Point: Port Elizabeth Airport or Town
Meals: Meals included whilst on the Reserve
Volunteer numbers: approx 5

Duration & Fees

8 weeks£2,795

with FGASA Level 1

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Start Dates

2021 Start Dates:

2 Aug | 4 Oct


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

What's Included

  • Scheduled Transfers to and from Port Elizabeth Airport on arrival and departure
  • Orientation on arrival
  • Meals while on the Reserve
  • Beverages with meals
  • Accommodation
  • Training which covers bush training, theoretical training, vehicle handling, guest interaction and many other aspects.
  • FGASA study material - Level 1
  • FGASA Registration - Level 1
  • First Aid - Level 1
  • FGASA Training and Theory Examination
  • Week-end excursions (transport and accommodation only

What's not included

  • Flights
  • Visa (if necessary)
  • Travel Insurance
  • Registration with the department of environmental affairs and tourism (if students would like to work as a ranger thereafter)
  • Meals and adventure activities on excursions

Students will be under the mentorship of an expert in their field with over 15 years experience.  All students will be put into groups on arrival, each group having its own co-ordinator and safari vehicle for the duration of the course. Days are full of practical experiences, and will include work on the reserve as well as classroom lectures to cover the theory of practical work undertaken during the day.  There will be opportunities for firearm theory and practice and basic 4x4 driving skills.  There will be night treks out onto the reserve where bush camps will be made and sleep outs organised.  No two days will be the same. 

The 8 week course is accredited by the FGASA (Field Guide Association of South Africa) and the reserve is a registered training and examination centre.  Testing includes an open book test – which students can complete over a few weeks, a practical assessment supervised by the trainer during the course and a final examination which is marked by the FGASA for which the pass mark is 75%.  Once this pass mark is achieved, each student will receive a certificate from FGASA. In addition, a three day first aid course will be undertaken by the students.  This is arequirement for the FGASA Level 1 Certificate, and a separate certificate is awarded for this course also.

Students will be required to undertake some private study in order to pass the course, although the amount required will depend on individual students.

The following topics will be covered:

  • Introduction to guiding in the natural environment
  • Creating a guided nature experience
  • Geology
  • Astronomy
  • Weather and Climate
  • Basic Ecology
  • Basic Taxonomy
  • Introduction to the Biomes of Southern Africa
  • Botany and Grasse
  • Arthropod
  • Amphibian
  • Reptiles
  • Fish
  • Birds
  • Mammal
  • Conservation management and historical human habitation

FGASA registration for 8 week course participants

Students will be given the forms to complete on arrival at the reserve. The registration normally takes about a week to go through and for student books to arrive. During this period training will begin and students are introduced to their various modules.

Free Time

Excursions will be arranged by the project staff at weekends and this may include a trip to Port Elizabeth where the group stay in the local backpackers. All transfers and accommodation for such trips  are included in the project fee.

Course participants may also want to take some time out whilst in South Africa to visit the interesting sights and the surrounding areas.  Port Elizabeth is a vibrant city with lots to see and do and the course location is also only about 30 minutes from the university town of Grahamstown, which is a great place to have fun and relax. Anyone interested in learning to surf should head to Jeffreys Bay, which has some of the best waves in Africa as well as the opportunity to observe dolphins in the nearby area. There are also whale watching trips and opportunities for water sports and bungee jumps. Please note that these additional activities will be at the course participant's own expense but the project co-ordinators will be happy to help plan and arrange them. 

Extra Information

Getting There

Flights should be arranged to arrive into Port Elizabeth Airport where course participants will be met on arrival and transferred to the course base. Full details will be in provided in the pre-departure pack.

Amanzi Travel holds an ATOL licence and can arrange any flight requirements 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.  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. 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.

Eastern Cape, South Africa, Eastern Cape Field Guide FGASA Level 1 - 8 WeeksEastern Cape, South Africa, Eastern Cape Field Guide FGASA Level 1 - 8 WeeksEastern Cape, South Africa, Eastern Cape Field Guide FGASA Level 1 - 8 WeeksEastern Cape, South Africa, Eastern Cape Field Guide FGASA Level 1 - 8 WeeksEastern Cape, South Africa, Eastern Cape Field Guide FGASA Level 1 - 8 WeeksVolunteers stay on the Game Reserve in one of two volunteer lodges with shared, single sex bedrooms and bathroom. The lodges are fully furnished and have kitchens, lounges with dining areas, an entertainment area with televisions, dvd players and pool tables and sporting facilities such as tennis courts and a cricket field are also available, as is a swimming pool.   there are also plans to open a gym on site. There is internet access in the main building at a nominal fee.

Items such as milk, bread, jam and eggs etc are provided at the volunteer accommodation and course participants can use the kitchen to prepare their breakfast.  Lunch and dinner will be prepared by the resident chefs. The food served varies from day to day but usually consists of meals such as vegetables, pasta, beans, curry, rice, fish and meat. Vegetarians can be catered for on request. Please note, the game reserve is an alcohol free environment but course participants are welcome to drink during the weekends excursions into Port Elizabeth.


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.


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

Eastern Cape Field Guide FGASA Level 1 - 8 Weeks

I recently spent 8 weeks living on an amazing game reserve in South Africa with people from all over the world who have the same interests and passion as me taking the same FGASA level 1 course as myself. The reserve you stay on is home to the big 5 which makes every game drive you go on more exciting than the last. Not only did you go on game drives during the day but also at both early morning and late evening to observe different behaviors and different animals. The staff at Kwantu was so unbelievably kind and helpful throughout the entire experience. Being able to observe these animals in their natural habitat up close is a life changing experience. I've gained an immense amount of knowledge whilst studying during this course and I left South Africa with friendships that will last a lifetime. The people I lived with have become very important people in my life and I have future travel plans with them. Being a field guide in South Africa is a dream of mine and being able to get a taste of this experience by taking the course has only solidified my decision on pursuing a career in this field. Being able to listen to the sounds and observe the signs of the South African bush is an unforgettable experience. Listening to bird calls and being able to identify the specific species of bird, observing tracks of animals and identifying species and observing the behavior of animals at a sighting are just some of the things I had learned whilst in Africa. I am now looking to get a job as a field guide in South Africa even though I am originally from New York, I know that after this course I have found exactly what I love to do and am passionate about. I would recommend this course to people who are both looking to pursue a career in the guiding industry as well as people who are passionate about animals. Thank you Amanzi for an unforgettable experience!

Zoe, USA, aged 23 (Eastern Cape Field Guide FGASA Level 1 - 8 Weeks)

Eastern Cape Field Guide FGASA Level 1 - 8 Weeks

I spent two years working to get the money to spend two months in South Africa. It was more than worth it. This was my second trip to the reserve, having spent two weeks there in 2011. I booked through Amanzi travel both times as I found all the information they gave me before the trip to be so helpful and their friendly emails made me feel very comfortable about going off on my own. I was this time doing the FGASA level 1 course. When I first arrived I was quite overwhelmed by the amount of information the course covered. Gerry, the course instructor, seemed to know everything about everything and the other students who were already there seemed to know so much as well. As the weeks passed I was still nervous about the exam but was not so intimidated by the course as it was just so interesting. It covered so many different topics most of which excited me, and with the guidance of Gerry and the other rangers I couldn’t help but strive to do well. In the end I passed my exam and sobbed when Gerry told me as I had never wanted anything more than I wanted to pass that exam. I got that news from Gerry on my last day there which proved to be a day of lots of crying as I had to say goodbye to so many inspirational people. We had a few classes a week and other than that we were working with the volunteers. I met so many lovely people among the volunteers who I am still in contact with. There is a lot of the work where we were doing physical labour (digging holes, fence clearing, road maintenance etc.) but I was quite pleased with that. I spent the entire 8 weeks exhausted but hugely motivated. I’m studying Zoology at University so am happy to be able to see wildlife in the ‘wild’ rather than having it tame so that I can play with it. For my two months there, there were no cubs being hand raised so the only interaction was with the elephants at the elephant sanctuary and with the animals in the touch farm. That suited me quite well as I think its better for the animals that way. The rangers made the trip amazing. Gerry inspired me to do the best I could and the opportunity to work with him was one I’ll never forget. Polite, one of the other rangers who I worked with a lot, was also amazing to work with. He could make any task worth doing. A few of us also felt like we should start documenting all of his philosophical statements. All the rangers were so good at imparting information and allowing us to gain confidence in our knowledge and ability. 

Olivia, (Eastern Cape Field Guide FGASA Level 1 - 8 Weeks)

Eastern Cape Field Guide FGASA Level 1 - 8 Weeks

We have had lots of new volunteers come recently and they all have been really nice and i have got along well with all of them.  We went back to PE last night until wednesday because of the first aid course. Not sure if i told you but I got to do some off road drivng a few weeks ago which was fun. Robbie who is doing the course with me said that last time he was here he got to do a night game drive, which I hope i can do!  The female tiger called 'Putri' here maybe pregnant so I think we maybe expecting some tiger cubs soon. Also on the topic of cubs the female lion on the reserve 'chiedza' has got 3 cubs ...  I will bring the level 1 ranger manual back with me, we cover everything from weather and climate to astronomy to animal behaviour. Simon is a really good teacher but he does expect you to do a lot of the work away from the lectures as well which is good.

Edward, UK, aged 18 (Eastern Cape Field Guide FGASA Level 1 - 8 Weeks)

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