Overview

Spend 23 weeks training in the African bush with an optional 1 month, 3 month or 6 month non-guiding placement AND get career training from Conservation Careers!

Join us in South Africa’s Lowveld region, one of the world’s best big game territories, and train to become a qualified field guide while experiencing the African bush at its most exquisite. This course, which is available to anyone 18 years or older, provides a training platform for prospective field guides or conservation professionals who are eager to get a head start in these competitive industries.

Overview

The FGASA Field Guiding and Conservation Careers Internship allows you to choose your Internship Placements, ranging from 1, 3 or 6 months, depending on the time commitment you wish to make to gain practical experience and improve your CV, ahead of looking for a job in the industry. See the project details tab for more info on each of the specific internship placements and what they each entail.

All Bushwise trainers are highly experienced and Field Guide Association of Southern Africa (FGASA) certified. This accredited course embodies both theoretical and practical elements, which will provide you with full FGASA accreditation.

The course is known for producing the highest calibre of graduates for an in-demand industry. Throughout our years of operation, our graduates have achieved the highest marks of all the FGASA long term providers, and are considered some of the best trained professional guides in the industry.

Students on this course have an opportunity to undertake a career exposure internship (with varying lengths) after completion of the 6 month certified course. This allows you to gain valuable hands-on experience, as well as cementing the information and skills learnt during the training period, as you ‘set foot-in-the-door’ towards the exhilarating and competitive safari tourism industry or in the direction of your intended wildlife and/or conservation career.

For this particular course, the following internships are offered:

  • 6 months non-guiding internship
  • 3 months non-guiding internship
  • 1 month non-guiding internship

It is important to consider that the internship allocation is determined by the Bushwise head trainer, and is based on your performance, interest and our formal T’s & C’s. All students must pass both the FGASA exam and course requirements before starting any placement longer than 3 months.

Possible activities you could get involved with and exposed to on career exposure internship:

  • Wildlife research and monitoring: spend time with a dedicated team of researchers learning about what life is like as a field researcher, logistics, research techniques and data collection.
  • Anti-poaching: learn from the dedicated anti-poaching personnel about anti-poaching techniques, essentially a real’ hands on’ and ‘boots on the ground’ experience.
  • Assisting at an ecotourism lodge: assist in all departments of a luxury ecotourism lodge to see how it works behind the scenes and gain new skills and experiences.
  • Environmental education and animal rehabilitation: help a team to teach local children the importance of protecting wildlife, care for injured or abandoned wildlife.
  • Game farming and reserve management: get involved in some of the activities on game farm and intensive breeding programmes and get stuck in to some hands on reserve management tasks and activities.

The career exposure placements provide you with the opportunity to gain experience in the fields of research, anti-poaching, and more, all while getting practical insight and experience and learning about what life will be like a field guide. You are guaranteed to get a practical head start on the other guides in the industry, and to solidify yourself as a field guide to be reckoned with, as soon as you turn 21 and are able to acquire your PrDP (driver’s permit).

Our Award-winning Partner

Conservation Careers has teamed up with an award-winning, mission-driven organisation with a team of passionate experts across the globe who will make your experience a truly unforgettable one.

Founded in 1998, they run programs in 21 locations, in 13 countries around the world, each aligned to the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals as well as the objectives of local partners. They welcome participants from all around the world and help facilitate their development into global citizens. This is how they achieve their mission of building a global network of people united by their passion to make a difference.

Their commitment to running high-quality sustainable development and experiential education programs has earned them recognition from numerous organizations such as Panthera, the Seychelles Parks & Gardens Authority, as well as Stanford, NYU, Duke, and Ohio State.

If you register your interest below, you’ll put you in touch with our partner to take the booking and to plan your trip!

To see all our Conservation Careers Internship opportunities, please click here.

Life on base

Living on base in Mahlahla provides you with the perfect opportunity to trade a traditional office environment for a work week that unfolds in the heart of the African bushveld. Spend time in the wild on game drives, tracking animal spoor, identifying different types of fauna and flora, learning more about field guiding and also generally getting to know your fellow international students in front of the campfire at night.

Increasing Employability: Pre Departure Program Training:

Our programs are not only life-changing experiences but are also designed to help participants increase their employability. We have developed a curriculum to be completed prior to arrival in the country in order to ensure that more time is dedicated to program work once you commence your volunteer program.

Eight weeks prior to your start date, you will complete the following online courses in preparation for your in-country program:

PRE-DEPARTURE ORIENTATION (1 hour)

PROGRAM SPECIFIC TRAINING (1 – 5 hours)

WILDLIFE CONSERVATION COURSE (10 – 15 hours)

LEADERSHIP COURSE (10 – 15 hours)

CAREERS COURSE (10 – 15 hours)

In order to obtain a certificate for the Wildlife Conservation, Leadership and Careers courses which are endorsed by the University of Richmond and UNC Charlotte, you will need to complete quizzes & assignments and will be given 4 weeks post program to submit your work.

If you are looking to travel in less than 8 weeks from now, you will still complete the course however this will be done in country and all content will need to be downloaded before arrival.

Health & Hygiene:

The work we contribute to across the globe remains important and new measures allow our participants to continue to join our programs and continue impacting positively on their world and the communities we work with. Changes to our existing protocols have been made by our health and hygiene team to strengthen our health and hygiene protocols and ensure that international standard safeguards are in place to protect our participants, staff and host communities. Please inquire for more information on the protocols.

Your Impact

All of our programs have short, mid and long-term objectives that fit with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals or UN SDGs. This enables us to report on our collaborative impact across the world in a streamlined manner, measuring which UN SDGs we are making a substantial contribution to. Furthermore, this will help our local partners and communities measure and visualise their contribution to the UN SDGs.

Upon arrival to base, you will be educated about the history of the UN SDGs. You will learn about the specific goals of your location, the long-, mid- and short-term objectives, and also clarification of how your personal, shorter-term involvement contributes to these goals on a global level.

Our aim is to educate you on local and global issues, so that you continue to act as active global citizens after your program, helping to fulfil our mission of building a global network of people united by their passion to make a difference.

Our Limpopo based programs are primarily aimed at developing the wildlife conservation sector, boosting the local economy by providing additional skills in the field, and providing high quality training to students from all over the world.

As such, the main UN Sustainable Development Goals of this project include #15, Life on Land, #10, Reducing Inequality and #8 Decent Work and Economic Growth.

Project objectives

Mahlahla, Limpopo’s Long-term Objectives:

  1. Focusing on training students to the highest standard possible, in both theoretical knowledge and practical experience.
  2. Improving the employability prospects of field guides within the conservation industry, providing them with the skills necessary to specialise within their areas of interest.
  3. Teaching up to field guiding level 2 field guide standards, providing more than just the basics offered at training providers elsewhere on the continent.
  4. Growing Bushwise Recruitment, a branch of the business dedicated to finding jobs for participants after the successful completion of a six month program, and a six month placement.
  5. Protecting and preserving the natural wildlife habitat of the Limpopo area.

Exploration

Joining a program not only allows participants to collaborate with communities or work toward preserving unique ecosystems but it also offers plenty of opportunities to explore the surrounding area or travel further to see what other parts of the region have to offer.

Long term field staff are a great source of advice, and have helped us put together the following information on local travel options. Many decide to travel before or after their experience (subject to immigration restrictions), solidifying the lifetime friendships established on program. Please note that the below suggestions are not included in the program fee, and are for the individual to organise at their own expense.

Weekend trips

Debengeni Falls, Tzaneen

Another one of the stunning local waterfalls, including a picnic area and hiking trails.

Giant Baobab/Upside Down Restaurant

Get up close with huge baobab trees, and don’t forget to try their world renowned pancakes.

Panorama Route

Bourke’s Luck potholes, God’s Window and waterfalls are just some of what you can see within a single Saturday, should you be up for the adventure.

Moholoholo Rehab Centre

Here, you are able to assist with the rehabilitation of endangered species during short term visits to the center.

Kruger National Park

Orpen and Phalabourwa Gates are less than two hours drive from the campus. Day Trips/overnight camping are available.

Blyde River Canyon

A trip through the canyon could include boat trips, kloofing, whitewater rafting, paintball, hot air ballooning and camping. This is the perfect opportunity to bond with your fellow students.

Further travels

Visit Durban

Another major city in the country, Durban has a warmer climate than any other city in the country, with lush beaches and it’s own heritage tied closely to the Zulu culture.

Cederberg Mountains

The Cederberg Mountain Range is an exquisite sight to see for the adventure enthusiasts. Walk or hike your way through an experience that quite frankly, is only done justice in person, and not on photographs.

City of Johannesburg

One of the capital cities of South Africa, Johannesburg is a major city roughly a five hour drive from campus. Emerging suburbs bustling with culture includes Maboneng, Sandton and Fourways.

Cape Town

Robben Island, Table Mountain, The District 6 Museum, Castle of Good Hope or the Green Market Square craft markets are all once-in-a-lifetime experiences. A short flight from Johannesburg or directly out of Hoedspruit, it is well worth spending some time in the region at the end of your course or placement.

Cultural immersion

Engaging intimately with a new context teaches not only global awareness but adaptability and critical thinking, skills highly valued in the modern marketplace. Local and cultural immersion is encouraged on all our programs around the world, and is also one of the most enjoyable aspects of your experience. Luckily, there are many activities you can get involved with in your free time, or before and after your program. On our community programs the focus is on cultural topics, while on marine or wildlife programs the emphasis is more on the environmental element. Use your evenings and weekends to explore diverse and eclectic topics like Theravada Buddhism in Laos or how plastic pollution and climate change affects Indian Ocean coral.

Hoedspruit

Hoedspruit is a town situated at the foot of the Klein Drakensberg, in the Limpopo province of South Africa, on the railway line from Tzaneen to Kaapmuiden. From horse trails, reptile centers to wine and gin tastings, the local town gives you many opportunities to experience South African culture over and above your experience on campus.

Diversity

The country has celebrated over twenty years of democracy, usher in by the inauguration of former president Nelson Mandela in a historical moment in 1994. Students are encouraged to learn more about both before and during their time visiting the country and engaging with the local population.

Culture

South Africa is the largest country in Southern Africa and the 25th largest country in the world by land area, with a diverse cultural population of over 56 million people. South Africa is often referred to as the rainbow nation to describe the country’s multicultural diversity.

Language

The majority of the population of South Africa is divided among a variety of ethnic groups speaking different African languages, nine of which have official status. In Hoedspruit and while on campus, the primary language of communication will be English.

Experiences

Exclusive local experiences:

  • Learn to make a potjiekos
  • Develop your wildlife photography skills
  • Discover the medicinal uses of indigenous plants
  • Master basic bush survival skills
  • Watch a magical sunset at a watering hole
  • Enjoy a night sky safari
  • Walk through a prehistoric cycad forest
  • Sleep in the open bushveld

BONUS! Conservation Career Kick-Starter online training programme (worth £295)

Do you want to spend your career helping wildlife to flourish, but are feeling a little lost, confused or disillusioned?

Start your career in wildlife conservation with a unique programme of training, support community & jobs from Conservation Careers!

The Conservation Career Kick-Starter is a proven step-by-step system to get clear, get ready, and get hired as a professional conservationist.

Whether you’re at university and planning your next steps, a graduate in the job hunt or working in an unrelated job but interested to switch into conservation, this course is designed to help you.

After going through the course, you’ll have created a personal career plan which will give you confidence in your job hunt and will make everything quicker, simpler and more fun!

All you need to do is register your interest in the project below, and if you choose to make a booking we’ll save a place for you on the Kick-Starter when you get back from your placement.

Included with the Kick-Starter is a year’s full-access to the world’s biggest conservation job board with over 15,000 jobs, plus access to our private online support community, CC Pro.

Costs

Start dates are as follows:

  • 2023: 7 Jan; 8 Jul

The duration and costs are as follows:

  • 6 months- £17, 450
  • 1 year- £18, 800

What’s included

  • 24-hour emergency desk
  • 24-hour emergency phone
  • 24-hour in-country support
  • 2x sets of uniforms
  • Access to Alumni Services and Discounts
  • Airport pick-up (unless otherwise stated)
  • All compulsory books (if included)
  • All necessary project equipment and materials
  • All necessary project training by experienced staff
  • Birding specialist course
  • CATHSSETA (The Culture, Art, Tourism, Hospitality and Sports Sector, Education and Training Authority) National Qualification (Level 2) in Nature Guiding
  • Cybertracker track & sign qualification
  • Dangerous game experience
  • Ethical guiding principles
  • FGASA (Field Guides Association of Southern Africa) national certificate – Level 1 – practical and theory
  • FGASA Level 2 knowledge
  • Limited internet access at no extra cost
  • Location orientation
  • Long term experienced staff
  • Meals while on project (except on work placements for long term internships)
  • National LEVEL 2 First Aid Certificate
  • National level 3, 4 x 4 driving qualification
  • Other activities, such as sleep outs, Kruger trips, etc.
  • Reptile orientation course
  • SASSETA (Rifle handling, proficiency, maintaining of firearms and shooting)
  • Safe and basic accommodations (usually shared)
  • T-shirt, fleece jacket, cap and beanie
  • Transfer from Oliver Tambo International airport (if required)
  • Welcome meeting
  • Wildlife photography workshop

What’s not included

  • Additional drinks and gratuities
  • COVID-19: Health and Hygiene Fee
  • Extra local excursions
  • Flights
  • Food during the placement portion of your internship
  • International and domestic airport taxes
  • Laundry, food and transport during weeks off
  • Medical and travel insurance
  • Personal items and toiletries
  • Personal kit
  • Police or background check
  • Police or background check (where necessary)
  • Recommended reference books
  • Transport costs to placement
  • Visa costs
  • Visa costs (where necessary)

Reserve your place or ask a question