The Nature Guide Course (also referred to as the Field Guide Course by FGASA) is a practical and theory based course with a strong emphasis not only on the practical skills of guiding but also the full syllabus used by southern African guides to qualify as a guide. The focus of the course is taking the classroom to the wilderness. While there are informative lectures the majority of the training happens out in nature on foot, in a 4-wheel drive vehicle and depending on water levels, by boat and mokoro (dug- out canoe). The course is modular so you may join the course for 2 or 4 weeks.
A typical day: Kwapa Camp, on the banks of the Kwapa River in the Okavango Delta, operates on a “duty-guide” system. Each day there are two duty-guides who will assist with wake-up calls and preparation for breakfast. One duty-guide will guide the morning activity whilst the other will guide the afternoon activity. Each activity will be approximately 3 hours. After returning from morning activity at around 10h00, there is a coffee and tea break. The Trainer will then take the duty-guide through the activity he/she has just conducted and allow this student to comment on his/her own strengths and weaknesses using the assessment document as an outline. Following this the group will discuss these points offering constructive criticism and observation. Finally, the facilitator will fill in on points he feels could have been handled differently.
At each meal, duty-guides are encouraged to host the group using acceptable hosting techniques such as leading conversation throughout the meal, making sure drinks are served and “guests” all have what they require before beginning to eat.
If you want to become FGASA certified, then it's required that you participate in the full 4-week course.
No prior experience is required for this course. It is important to be clear when making your booking what your course goal is.
Enrichment only: Many students attend this course for personal enrichment and have fantastic time but keep in mind our goal and focus is on the learning and development of skills. You will be training alongside people who wish to become top guides in the industry. To keep with the integrity of this being a structured course, all students are obliged to write the daily revision tests and a final theory exam. All students will also receive an Okavango Guiding School certificate on completion of the course.
Qualifications: Students can choose to do one of the below, or both:
FGASA Field Guide (Level 1): This is the Field Guide Association of Southern Africa and is the national guiding qualification used in South Africa. It is also the most widely recognized qualification in Africa. Please note: that to qualify for FGASA level 1 you must complete the pre-course workbooks and prepare the required lecture material before attending the course. The onus is on the student to contact FGASA directly and arrange for registration and the postal of their books to achieve this. It is advisable to do this at your earliest convenience as the postage of study material and pre-course workbooks takes some time. In order to qualify for the FGASA certificate you must also do the full 28 days of training but this does not have to be done in one session and can be done over time. You will write your FGASA Level 1 theory exam at Kwapa Camp in the last few days of the course. Your practical assessment will be done over the 4 weeks – as you progress, you will be marked competent in the required areas, with your final assessment being conducted in the final days of the course. Please also note that you may not enroll for the FGASA Trails Guide Course until you have successfully completed this Field Guide course.
BQA Level 2&3: This is the Botswana Qualification Authority (BQA) exam which is the national guiding qualification for Botswana. Students write their theory exam at Kwapa Camp in the last few days of the course. Your practical assessment will be done over 2 or 4 weeks – as you progress, you will be marked competent in the required areas, with your final assessment being conducted in the final days of your course. BQA differs also in that you are not required to do the full 28 days and can do 14 days instead. Furthermore, BQA will allow you to do the Trails Guide Course before successfully completing this Nature Guide Course.
The Trails Guide Course (Lead and Backup Walking and Weapons) is held at the Kwapa Training Camp on the Kwapa River in the southern Okavango Delta. Training to become a Trails Guide is physically demanding. This course comprises of four components:
1. The theory component that covers weapons safety, ballistics and information on potentially dangerous animals. This is tested with a final theory exam towards the end of the course.
2. The Advanced Rifle Handling (ARH) assessment is conducted on the borders of the NG30 (Kwapa) concession. Ammunition usage is charged at the end of the course. Air rifle and muscle memory training are done daily while visits to the rifle range are done twice a week. Students not wanting to take part in this component are welcome to stay in camp with the camp staff.
3. The trails guide walking assessment that includes viewing potentially dangerous animals on foot (VPDA) is done throughout the course on daily walking activities.
4. Logging hours on foot; this too is done through daily walking activities.
It is of the utmost importance that students realize that the above requirements for a full qualification are impossible to gain in a short period of time. Much depends on the student’s shooting ability, what nature offers in the way of required encounters with potentially dangerous animals and having enough time to log sufficient hours on foot with a qualified mentor. This qualification is usually acquired over several months. Many of our international students opt for this course as a life enrichment experience and get an Okavango Guiding School certificate, rather than pursuing a formal qualification through FGASA or BQA.
You can join this course without prior experience for "personal enrichment". If you want to become FGASA certified, then it's required that you participate in the full 4-week course and already have a FGASA level 1 certificate. The 2-week course is only for "personal enrichment" and BQA certification.
For enrichment purposes and the BQA qualification, no prior experience is required for this course. However, for the FGASA qualification, students must have successfully completed the Field Guide NQF2 qualification. It is important to be clear when making your booking what your goal is for attending this course:
Enrichment only: Many students attend this course for personal enrichment only. To keep with the integrity of this being a structured course, all students are obliged to write the daily revision tests and a final theory exam. All students will also receive an Okavango Guiding School certificate of attendance.
Qualifications: There are two qualifications available which are similar to one another and students may choose to do either or both the FGASA qualification and the BQA (Botswana Qualification Authority) qualification. There are daily revision tests and a final theory exam for both.
1. FGASA Backup or Lead Trails Guide: This is the Field Guide Association of Southern Africa and is the national guiding qualification used in South Africa. Please note: that in order to qualify for FGASA Trails Guide (Backup or Lead) one must have successfully completed the Field Guide qualification and complete the FGASA Trails Guide pre-course workbooks. The onus is on the student to contact FGASA directly and arrange for registration and the postage of their books to achieve this. It is advisable to do this at your earliest convenience as postage can take a long time. To qualify for the FGASA certificate you must also do the full 28 days of training but this does not have to be done in one session and can be done over time. You will write your theory exam at Kwapa Camp in the last few days of the course. Your practical assessment will be done over the 4 weeks – as you progress, you will be marked competent in the required areas, with your final assessment being conducted in the final days of the course.
2. BQA Backup and Lead Trails Guide: This is the Botswana Training Authority qualification which is the national guiding qualification for Botswana. You will write your theory exam at Kwapa Camp in the last few days of the course. Your practical assessment will be done over 2 or 4 weeks – as you progress, you will be marked competent in the required areas, with your final assessment being conducted in the final days of your course. Please note: that in order to be issued with a guide license in Botswana, you will need a valid work and residence permit, show a minimum of 5 years guiding experience outside of Botswana and achieve a BQA Level 3 Nature Guide qualification.
The Bush Skills Course is an exciting, new addition to the Okavango Guiding School Courses and developed very much for the international traveler, seeking an intimate African bush experience, full of wilderness adventure and practical information. This 7-night course at our Kwapa Camp in the southern Okavango Delta is a highlights package of the practical and theory aspects of the Nature Guide and Trails Guide Courses. This course is also an ideal introduction for those wanting to do a self-drive safari. While there are informative ‘lectures’ the majority of the training happens out in nature on foot, in a 4-wheel drive vehicle and depending on water levels, by boat and mokoro (dug-out canoe and covers basic survival skills, 4x4 driving skills, walking in the wilderness, animal tracking, dangerous mammal facts, geology of the Delta, astronomy for navigation, birds and useful plants.
A Typical Week:
First day: the African Guide Academy trainer meets all students at the Duck Cafe across the road from Maun Airport at 14h00. This allows students to arrive on international flights on the first day of the course (these flights usually land at around 13h15). In order to get to Kwapa Training Camp with sufficient time to settle in while it is light and do an orientation, we can only allow a grace period until 15h30 for delayed flights. We strongly suggest that you have travel insurance to cover your overnight accommodation and unscheduled transfer to camp should your flight be drastically delayed.
Daily activities: Every morning we wake-up early and have a light breakfast and head out into the wilderness on foot. We will return to our camp for lunch and have a rest period. In the afternoon we set out on foot in a different direction.
We will spend a maximum of 3 nights in our wilderness camp before moving to another location on foot. Depending on water levels we will load our equipment in mokoros (dug-out canoes) or the equipment will be moved by vehicle while we carry our supplies for the day.
Last day: We walk or mokoro back to Kwapa Training Camp where a vehicle will be waiting to transfer us back to Maun for an 11am arrival at the Duck Café.
Please note: The above is just a broad outline so it can and will change depending on the guests needs, external factors and on some days, it has been known to not be followed at all! We allow the wilderness to dictate the best possible experiences.
This course is not a stand-alone qualification. Students will receive a certificate of attendance. All the hours on trail can be logged for a current or later Trails Guide qualification.
Nature Guide Course
2 weeks - 3,995 EUR
4 weeks - 7,990 EUR
2 weeks - 3,995 EUR
4 weeks - 7,990 EUR
Bush Skills Course
1 week - 2,495 EUR
The above prices are valid for 2022
Experience a great mix of gaining a deep theoretical insight to the ecology of this fascinating wilderness and learning the skills of guiding on foot, boat, mokoro, or in a 4WD vehicle.
Get a practical, hands-on experience of navigation in the African wilderness, bush survival skills, the ancient art of tracking, weapons handling, bird and mammal identification and so much more.
Cheeky baboons, noisy elephants and roaring lions - experience the Okavango wilderness at night on sleep-outs.
The world’s largest inland delta and UNESCO World Heritage Site, The Okavango Delta offers you wildlife sightings and experiences you won’t see anywhere else.
Botswana is a very peaceful country and the local population will make you feel welcome.
You will get to love the minimal WIFI and phone accessibility and enjoy the peace and tranquillity the nature offers.
These exciting courses in the Okavango Delta are very popular and due to a limited number of partipants, the earlier we start planning your trip, the better. The best time to start making arrangements is six to eight months before your planned departure date – especially if you want to join a course during peak seasons, including around school holidays.