When I was ten, my dad moved out to South Africa, where my sister and I joined him for all the school holidays.
In my mid teens we had one of those career sessions at school where you fill in a survey and it spits out a job that fills your criteria.
In the survey I put that I wanted to work outside, be in nature and work with wildlife and, in an enexpected twist, the careers advisor sat me down to tell me I was best suited to a life as a tree surgeon.
I was very disappointed.
What I really wanted it to come back with was safari guide, but I don’t think the UK careers system could really handle this response, so tree surgeon was the best they could do!
I dreamt of learning about all the animals, taking groups of excited tourists out on night drives and telling daft people off for getting out of their cars (for those of you who’ve been on safari you’ll know what I mean!).
But it wasn’t to be.
I never did get to live my safari guide dream, ending up as a retailer in the end.
So when Natucate reached out to me to collaborate on a piece, I jumped at the chance. They specialise in safari guide courses in Southern Africa, so maybe one of you can live my dream for me.
Their courses also happen to be the perfect length for a sabbatical, which make them a perfect fit for this site.
So without further ado, let’s learn more about taking a safari guide course in Botswana with Natucate.
Safari Guide Course
Give us a quick introduction to taking a safari guide course in Botswana
A field guide course amidst Botswana‘s incredible wilderness is suitable for anyone who wants to witness meaningful moments in almost untouched landscapes and actively experience and understand the fascinating habitats of Southern Africa – whether you are a nature lover striving for a job in the safari industry or simply for a special kind of time-out for personal enrichment.
Throughout the course you are accommodated in a wilderness camp surrounded by pristine nature and fascinating animals. Each day, you and your international team roam the African bush while acquiring detailed hands-on game ranger knowledge, always instructed by an experienced guide. During classroom hours back in camp you are familiarized with the theoretical basics. After passing a final exam at the end of the course you are finally handed an official FGASA certificate.
What are the highlights of the course?
A field guide training in Botswana gives you the chance to have profound experiences in awe-inspiring landscapes and to explore and understand the impressive ecosystems of Southern Africa.
As a guide student, you will fully immerse yourself into Southern Africa’s magnificent wilderness, meet people from all over the world, learn from some of the best guides and witness stunning wildlife encounters. On top of that – and depending on the course – you have the chance to acquire an official FGASA certificate enabling you to work as a field guide in specific wildlife areas of Southern Africa.
What are your favourite animals or birds that you see?
Africa is home to an abundance of wildlife. Elephants, buffaloes, cats of prey such as lions, cheetahs and leopards, hippos, zebras, giraffes, wild dogs, rhinos, antelopes, or birds such as eagles, herons, bee eaters or ostriches – with a little bit of luck you might spot some of these wonderful animals.
However, it is important to always keep in mind that nature doesn’t always give us what we want. Of course, course participants would like to see as many animals as possible in their natural environment. However, this is dependent on a number of factors. Please note that Natucate will never guarantee that you will see a variety of animals, in particular the Big Five when joining a programme in Africa.
What kind of skills is someone likely to learn?
During their guide training, students will be equipped with a broad knowledge of the local flora and fauna and will be able to act as a mediator between man and nature. They will train their ability to navigate in this unique terrain, identify animals by their sounds, read tracks, interpret the weather and handle a rifle.
Safari is another important skill acquired: Aspiring guides learn how to lead their guests safely through a wildlife area and bring them closer to the African animals and plants.
How long does the course take?
The length of the programme depends on the course you take. To give you some examples:
- Professional Field Guide course: 335 days
- Field Guide Level 1 course: 28 or 55 days
- Trails Guide course: 28 days
- Safari Guide course: 28 days
How much does it cost to book the safari guide course? Are there additional costs during the course?
The programme fee is different for each of our guide courses and usually depends on the country/region and duration.
Once participants are on site, there won’t be a lot of extra expenses as food, accommodation and transport are included in the programme fee. However, some extra money might be needed for external transfers, additional snacks and beverages or souvenirs.
Money can easily be exchanged and withdrawn at the airport. Furthermore, there are ATMs in most of the cities. You should make sure to be able to withdraw money with your bank card in foreign countries before coming to Southern Africa. For emergencies we advise you to bring along some extra cash, however, particularly in larger cities you shouldn’t carry around too much money.
Is taking a safari guide course safe?
When moving in a wildlife area it is crucial to always pay attention and to be aware of possible risks. The group instructors who always accompany our aspiring guides know what to do and when extra caution is needed. In general, there’s no need to worry.
Dangerous or poisonous animals usually don’t come too close to humans and only react aggressive when they are being attacked. Nevertheless, it is important to listen to your guide’s instructions and to follow the rules at all times.
What should I pack for a safari guide course?
As you will be spending a lot of time out in nature, you will need to bring outdoor clothing like hiking boots, long light pants for every day and something to cover your head from the sun. Your clothes should be of colours that fit the environment (grey, khaki, brown, green).
It is also advisable to pack some warmer clothes for the nights/for temperature variations. Don’t forget to bring sunscreen, insect repellent, a refillable water bottle and a sketch pad. Further necessary items include binoculars, a (head) torch, and a small personal first-aid kit. Please make sure to only bring the most necessary valuables with you – on the one hand because of the risk of damage, on the other hand because of the risk of theft at the airport or in large cities.
Many of these items are on my favourite travel gear list: Check it out here
How easy is it to get a job after the course and how much do safari guides generally get paid?
Many countries throughout Africa do not have guiding authorities of their own (such as FGASA in South Africa, BOTA in Botswana and KPSGA in Kenya). As a result, FGASA qualifications will hold some merit.
In general, finding a job as a safari guide/ranger is quite difficult for non-natives, but not impossible. After successfully completing the training you need to be offered a job before you can apply for a work visa. You will need to approach the relevant country’s department of tourism/wildlife to determine the exact requirements to legally guide in a specific region. A guiding license may be required and this will need to be applied for.
Everybody who dreams of working as a safari guide should be aware that this career path should be chosen out of passion – not out of money-oriented goals. In the end, a safari guide’s salary is dependent on the country/region, on his/her bush experience and on the standard of the respective lodge he or she is working for (low-, middle or high-end lodge).
How long has Natucate been going for?
Daniel Kaul founded Natucate in 2014. After he finished his master’s studies in Applied Geography in his hometown Aachen, Germany, Daniel had some some “stop overs” in different jobs, particularly in the IT sector. But he quickly noticed that this was not the fulfilling task he had hoped for.
Daniel finally decided to put into practice what had crossed his mind for a long time: to send people out into pristine corners of Planet Earth, to make them actively contribute to nature and wildlife conservation and to offer them a unique learning experience moving them to spread the word about our earth’s uniqueness.
What other kinds of courses and tours does Natucate offer?
Protecting the unique features of Planet Earth is the primary objective of the Natucate team. In order to give back while exploring awe-inspiring natural areas, Natucate is specialized in educational stays abroad in connection with voluntary work in nature, animal and species conservation projects. Ecotourism as well as sustainable outdoor travel including safaris are further areas of expertise.
Here you can learn more about the different ways to discover the world with Natucate.
Do you have links to reviews of people who’ve done a similar course?
Yes, in our blog area you can find plenty of feedback from former guide students who have participated in our game ranger training courses in Africa. Some examples are:
Is there anything else we need to know?
Natucate only supports programmes which fulfill high project selection standards and, therefore, speaks out against wildlife breeding projects and programmes which allow direct interaction with wild animals. As the first German operator, Natucate has been recommended as an ethic agency for voluntary work by Campaign against Canned Hunting (CACH).
Wildlife interaction does not benefit the welfare of the animal in any way and represents a safety risk for humans. Animal breeding stations, such as those for cats of prey and lions in particular, mostly serve only to exploit humans and animals and often support the cruel practice of gate hunting.
Furthermore, Natucate does not offer any programmes which can be described as “orphanage projects”. Oftentimes infants and young children are bought off their needy families to rouse the sympathy of international volunteers in false orphanages. This is a particular problem in Southeast Asia, but also in parts of Africa. As it is difficult to get solid facts and background checks about humanitarian projects, Natucate decided to exclude any kind of children’s aid projects from their portfolio.
Where can I book a safari guide course with you?
As a Natucate customer, you can book a field guide course not only in Botswana but also in South Africa and Kenya. On the bottom of the following pages, you can find an overview of the different guide courses we offer in Botswana and in Africa in general – just click on the different course offers, learn more about their characteristics and enquire with us:
The Natucate team is happy to give you comprehensive advice on the different course options, to provide you with detailed information regarding health and safety, packing list and preparation measures and to support you before, during and after your guide adventure.