FGASA Level 1

Nature Guide

Starting Your Career As A Nature Guide

This three-month intensive course is undertaken in partnership with Dhumukwa Guide Training is the ideal start for anyone looking to start a career as a nature guide. The program is also well suited to gap year students wanting a taste of life in Africa and nature enthusiasts who want the knowledge and skills of a "game ranger"

We do not just want to train nature guides, we want to train exceptional guides, guides with unparalleled understanding of our planet and her ecosystems, guides that can interpret the magic of a butterfly opening its wings with as much enthusiasm as the magnificence of a herd of elephants crossing a river, guides who can use their time with tourists to spread the conservation message, guides who can become future conservation leaders, guides who can open people's eyes to the power of mother nature and wilderness. But this course is also so much more, it's an opportunity for personal growth, for learning new skills and an experience of a lifetime.

Don and I are doing a nature guide course and part of the training requires us to go into the bush on wilderness trails. I feel completely honored and privileged to be doing this course and am in the process of learning so much from some truly amazing people. ~ Sharlene Versveld (April 2017 Graduate)

  • We go beyond the minimum 50 days training and minimum "core modules" 
  • Our training is designed to draw on the legacy of the great pioneering conservationists Dr Ian Player
  • Our field training and wilderness experiences are arguably some of the most exciting and authentic field training opportunities.
  • With a 60 year track record and a globally recognized organisation, you can be assured of industry recognition and safety at the highest level 
  • Residential or non-residential options / part time or full time
  • Some of the most experienced trainers in the business 
  • Our training prepares you for the industry and work in tourism / nature guiding sector with focused training around your career opportunities and setting yourself apart in the job market
  • Connections to a global network of wilderness and like-minded sister organisations 
  • Excellent value for money - comparatively speaking, our training costs are extremely competitive.
  • Our course runs over 90 days, almost a month longer than most other courses on offer at similar rates.
  • Small groups - we always have a maximum of 10 people per course. It is advised to apply early to ensure your space.

"I never thought that I'd learn as much as I have in such a short space of time! We had incredible lecturers and guides and our time in the Wilderness was soul enriching. I am so happy that I decided to do this course with The Wilderness Leadership School and I'm both excited and fully prepared to take my next step as a nature guide" ~ Demi Mitchell, April 2017 Graduate

With over sixty years experience and arguably some of the best wilderness guides in the industry, with the Wilderness Leadership School you are assured of training of the highest quality and unrivaled practical guiding experiences, we go way beyond minimum requirements.

Course Outline & Modules

This course is ideally suited to anyone wishing to enter the lodge or guiding business at a professional level and can be completed part time or full time. The FGASA Level I (NQF II) Guide Training Course Includes:

  • All practical training / field sessions in a Big 5 Game Reserve environment 
  • "Leave No Trace" training / Wilderness Trail experience in the iMfolozi Game Reserve Wilderness Area
  • All lectures / theoretical training, transport, meals and accommodation
  • First Aid Level 1 certificate 
  • All assessments and final assessment preparation 
  • All FGASA membership fees and registrations
  • Lectures, subject matter experts and ongoing access to our trainers and staff (post training) via our various alumni platforms

Upon completing this course successfully, you will be allowed to work as a registered guide in most nature reserves around Southern Africa with a recognized high standard of training and field experience. (Please note that you will need to be 21 years or older to get a public driving permit)

Modules which we cover include: (Several of these are in addition to the minimal FGASA requirements)

  • Creating a guided nature experience
  • Geology
  • Astronomy
  • Weather and Climate
  • Ecology
  • Taxonomy
  • The Biomes of Southern Africa
  • Botany and Grasses
  • Arthropods
  • Amphibians
  • Reptiles
  • Fish
  • Birds
  • Mammals
  • Animal behaviour
  • Conservation Management
  • Historical Human Habitation
  • Marine Snorkel Guide Basics
  • Wilderness Ethics & Leave No Trace Certification 
  • Wilderness Facilitation, Psychology and  Soft Skills 
  • Tracking and advanced bush skills 
  • Weapons Handling 
  • Advanced Cultural Understanding 
  • Guest relations 
  • Career Guidance and Tourism Entrepreneurial Opportunities 
  • Environmental Education Facilitation


Minimum Requirements

Students Should Be:

  • At least 18 years old to be registered as a guide, although you will need to be 21 to have a Public Driving Permit
  • Physically healthy and able to undertake physical activity in potentially dangerous situations
  • Grade 12 or equivalent
  • No criminal record
  • Fluent in English (read and write)
Dates & Costs


Cost per student

  • 2022 Rates R70 000 


  • 10 January  - 24 March 2022
  • 28 March - 10 June 2022
  • 13 June - 25 August 2022


Wilderness Leadership School Trust

Wilderness Leadership School Trust

c/o Ewing Trust Company (Pty) Ltd,

Mafavuke House, 28 Old Main Road,

Hillcrest, 3610

+27 82 335 2687

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