Spend 6 months training in the African bush with an optional 6 months placement AND get career training from Conservation Careers!
Become an accredited Field Guide and forward your conservation career when you spend 23 weeks training in the iconic South African lowveld; one of the best wildlife locations in the country. You will gain skills and qualifications applicable to many conservation careers and there’s an optional placement to give you the opportunity to gain experience and secure the best possible start to your career.
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, a knowledgeable conservationist and experience the African bush at its best. This course is the ideal platform for a successful career in the African safari lodge industry and many international wildlife conservation careers or for a hands-on experience in the African bush that you will never forget. So be proactive and broaden your horizons, while gaining diverse qualifications, experience and transferable skills to improve your employability. The course can offer all this, whilst you have an adventure of a lifetime.
On the course we offer high quality theoretical and practical training, covering a diverse range of topics while being situated in one of the wildlife hot spots in South Africa. The foundation of the course is structured around the FGASA (Field Guide Association of Southern Africa) syllabus, which will give you an in depth knowledge and understanding of Southern African Fauna and Flora. This, along with the additional activities, will show potential employers around the world that you have the ability and drive to learn, and importantly transferable skills to take into your conservation career. Other relevant and exciting activities and qualifications have also been added to boost your CV and show employers that you are resourceful and determined about making it in conservation.
The curriculum includes bush skills such a wildlife tracking, shooting competency, 4×4 driving, outdoor first aid, wildlife photography, wildlife surveying techniques and in-depth knowledge and practical application of subjects such as conservation, ecology, reserve management, geology and animal behaviour. The course has been designed to develop applicants into highly skilled professionals in the exciting area of field guiding, conservation, research, adventure tourism or lodge management, by providing a well-rounded, specialised education which focuses not only on the theory but the practical aspects of wildlife conservation and guiding.
Unlike many other training providers, this course focuses on practical skills and gives students a regular exposure to working and guiding around dangerous game, such as Elephant, Lion, Rhino, Leopard, Buffalo and Hippo. This invaluable experience gives students excellent grounding for any of our placements and future employment in ‘Big Five’ game reserves, research and conservation jobs in Africa and beyond.
All the trainers are from The Field Guide Association of Southern Africa (FGASA) and the course is both theoretical and practical. Students who choose to take the 23 week course and not the work placement will still be professionally qualified if they pass their exams.
The course is known for producing the highest caliber graduates for this demanding industry. Throughout the years, our graduates have achieved the highest marks of all the FGASA long term providers many times and are considered some of the best trained guides in the industry.
Field Guide students have an opportunity to undertake a 6 month placement. This allows students to gain valuable hands on experience, as well as cementing the information and skills learnt during the training period, and gaining a valuable ‘foot-in-the-door’ to the exhilarating and competitive safari tourism industry and, wildlife and conservation careers.
Please remember, the allocation is based on performance, interest and personality as determined by the head trainer. All students MUST pass both the FGASA and course requirements before being placed at any placement.
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.
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.
Mahlahla, Limpopo’s Long-term Objectives:
- Focusing on training students to the highest standard possible, in both theoretical knowledge and practical experience.
- Improving the employability prospects of field guides within the conservation industry, providing them with the skills necessary to specialise within their areas of interest.
- Teaching up to field guiding level 2 field guide standards, providing more than just the basics offered at training providers elsewhere on the continent.
- 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.
- Protecting and preserving the natural wildlife habitat of the Limpopo area.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Dates and costs
Start dates are as follows:
- 2023: 7 Jan, 8 Jul
The cost is £17,450 for 6 months and £18,800 for one year.