28 Day Safari Guide Courses - South Africa

South Africa

If you want to experience a bush holiday, have amazing animal experiences and learn all about the environment, spend a month immersed in the natural world at a choice of wilderness camps in South Africa. The course will provide you with practical and theoretical knowledge of animals, birds, trees and ecology, and you will have a fantastic wildlife experience.

This safari guide course was developed in 1993 and was the first of its kind in the safari industry. It is for gap year students, mature travellers and African adventurers who are passionate about nature and would like to get more in-depth experience and understanding of the animals and birds surrounding them.

Participants enrol onto this course for a gap year experience or extended bush holiday. You will undertake daily morning and evening activities, alternating between game walks and drives. As well as learning about wildlife, trees, reptiles and birds, you will also learn about camp management and maintenance of equipment and vehicles. Depending on your camp, you may also undertake basic fire arms training. 

This course is available at two amazing private game reserves in South Africa; one is a concession in the northern part of Kruger National Park and the other is a private reserve home to strong populations of cheetah and leopard. This Safari Guide course is also available in Botswana, please click for more details.


This course is presented by one of the first and best providers of nature guide training in Africa. You will be based at some of South Africa’s finest private game reserves where, in addition to having amazing game viewing experiences, you will get a deep understanding of Africa’s iconic wildlife and learn about animal behaviour and ecology.

Quick Facts

Who can join: Anyone aged 16 years and over
How long is the programme: 21 - 28 days
Accommodation: Tent shared between two people (same sex). Single supplements available.
Transfer time: Varies depending on location
Pick up from: Johannesburg
Meals: 3 meals a day included
Course numbers: Up to 20
Start dates: Various dates throughout 2017-2018
How much: from ZAR 46,600 (approx. US $3,495)

About the Programme

Every minute of this 28-day programme will be a learning experience! You will be immersed in nature and constantly exposed to every part of the African bush. Wild animals will walk through your unfenced campsite and you will get a real wilderness experience.

- Undertake game walks and drives accompanied by experienced professional trainers and guides
- The course provides an introduction for a career in field guiding and many other wildlife careers
- Immerse yourself in African wildlife and learn about the plants and animals, trees and birds
- Live in unfenced wilderness campsites surrounded by the sights and sounds of the bush

You will be based in camps in prime wildlife areas and partake in wilderness walks or game drives twice a day. Depending on which course you choose, you will be trained in one or two different game reserves, exposing you to a diversity of habitats and species. No other training provider can match this variety of training environments or frequency of practical activities.

What sort of things will I be doing?

You will study 16 modules during your course and cover theoretical and practical skills in wildlife guiding and conservation management, as well as learning about the wildlife which surrounds you.

The Safari Guide course covers:

- Introduction to the natural environment
- Guiding and radio procedures
- Ecology, geology and soils
- Astronomy
- Weather and climate
- Basic taxonomy
- Plants and grasses
- Insects
- Amphibians, fish and reptiles
- Birds
- Mammals
- Animal behaviour
- Identifying tracks and signs and basic tracking skills
- Habitat management
- Historical human habitation
- Basic Fire Arm Theory and Practical Shoot/Study Day (depending on camp)

Most students enrol for a more in-depth holiday experience or as part of their gap year travels. There is a practical assessment at the end of the course, but this is not compulsory. Most students do choose to take it as it gives a sense of purpose while doing the course. At the end of the course you will be given a certifcate of participation which will outline what you have covered.

Participants of any age over 16 who are able to walk more than 2km, are encouraged to enrol.

Base 1 - North Kruger

Where will I be based?

On this course you will be based in a 24,000 ha / 59,300 acre private concession located in the Pafuri area of the northern Kruger National Park. Situated between the Limpopo and Luvuvhu Rivers, the concession is the most diverse and scenically attractive areas in all of Kruger. The concession where you will be based is not accessible to the general public visiting Kruger and in fact belongs to the local community.


The area is the wildest and most remote part of the Kruger National Park and offers varied vegetation, great wildlife viewing, the best birding in all of the Park and is filled with folklore of the early explorers and ancient civilisations. Scenery ranges from the beautiful, quietly-flowing Luvuvhu River shaded by Nyala trees and fever tree forests, teeming with hippos and crocodiles; to the awesome Lanner Gorge, palm-fringed wetlands and rocky outcrops with thousand-year-old baobab trees.


All the wildlife that one would expect to see in a great national park such as Kruger can be encountered on the concession: plains game such as zebra, kudu and impala, lions and leopards are a special sighting, herds of elephant, African buffalo, nyala antelope in abundance and also seldom-seen animals such as eland and bushpig. There is also abundant birdlife and this part of Kruger is known to be one of the best birding areas in the park, home to rarely-seen species such as Pel's Fishing Owl, Wattle-eyed Flycatcher and Grey-headed Parrot.

Temperature and weather

In this part of the Kruger National Park you'll find a subtropical climate, with hot summers (average 36˚C) and warm, dry winters (average minimum 9˚C and average maximum 26.˚C). However, be sure not to be caught out by the intermittent summer rains which fall between October and March. Early mornings and late afternoon/evenings during the winter do get very cold, so be sure to bring sufficient warm clothing for early morning drives such as woolly hat, scarf and long trousers - think layers!


Students are accommodated in nine comfortable thatched, tented units placed on wooden decks in the shade of large nyala trees. Each unit has an en-suite bathroom consisting of a shower, washbasin with hot running water and a flush toilet, plus a verandah overlooking the bush. We provide bedding (a duvet and a pillow), but you might want to bring an extra blanket for the winter months and an additional pillow if you require two.

The camp is not fenced which means that animals do move through from time to time.


Communal areas

This area consists of a thatch-roofed open sided deck where all meals, lectures and studying takes place. A clearing for evening camp fire creates an idyllic setting for social and leisure time.

Course dates 2017-2018:

We do not currently have course dates for this location - please enquire for more details.

Alternatively, there is a 7 and 14 day EcoQuest course run from this location, plus the accredited 55 day Field Guide Course. If nothing suits your dates, please enquire and we will do our best to find you an alternative placement!

Base 2 - South West of Kruger

Where will I be based?

This camp is on the banks of the Karongwe River (mostly a dry river bed) in a 9,000 hectare (22,239 acre) game reserve, to the south-west of the Kruger National Park. Through the reserve flow three rivers which are tributaries of the Olifants River, carving their way through the bedrock and dividing the reserve.


This reserve has undulating hills and valleys and broad-leafed woodland. The vegetation of the reserve falls within the Savannah Biome of southern Africa with distinct vegetation zones being represented – mixed Lowveld and Mopane bushveld along with grass savannah, riverine vegetation and rocky outcrops. You will traverse over most of the reserve, except for one small section in the northern part.



This base is a good place for viewing leopard, lion and cheetah as well as elephant. As the camp itself is unfenced, you will frequently have four-legged guests in the camp. Hyenas make nightly patrols nearby and elephant, cheetah and lion have also made appearances on occasion. There is abundant wildlife in the area, with over 60 different large mammal species.

Temperature and weather

Summers are warm to hot, with temperatures ranging from mid 20°C on the cooler cloud-covered rainy days, to the high 30°C on average days. Occasional hot day’s temperatures can exceed 40°C. Winters are usually dry, with the average morning temperature of 6°C, with occasional cooler morning temperatures; afternoon temperatures average in the mid 20s°C to 32°C expected. Occasional winter showers prevail, but are unusual. Rain in the summer takes the form of heavy thunder-showers, or frontal rainfall over a longer period of time.


The camp consists of 10 walk-in style Meru tents, with twin beds (students share tents) and supplied bedding (a duvet and one pillow); although you might want to bring an extra blanket for the winter months and an additional pillow should you require two. There are shared ablution facilities and a central communal area. There are viewing decks in the central area of the camp, and many students choose to make the viewing decks their “bedroom” for part of or for the full duration of the course. The camp itself is unfenced.

The Communal Area

This area is made up of four tall thatch-roofed open-sided decks, which form a square that encloses an open campfire area. One of the deck structures serves as the open air dining area, lecture room and study area. Two decks remain open to welcome the adventurous who want to spend their nights as close to nature as possible, while the last deck is the home of the head instructor.

Course dates 2017-2018

The 2018 dates for the Safari Guide course at this location are:

5th June - 3rd July 2018

If these dates are not convenient, take a look at the dates for one of the other locations running this course.

Alternatively, there is a 7 and 14 day EcoTracker course run from this location, plus the accredited 55 day Field Guide Course. If nothing suits your dates, please enquire and we will do our best to find you an alternative placement!


Do I need any experience to join the programme?

You do not need any prior wildlife experience to join the programme, but students will find it easier if they have a good grasp of English. All participants should have a keen interest in conservation.

You must also be over 16 years old and able to walk at least 2km. There is a lot of foot-based walking and hiking on this programme.

How do I get to the project?

If you are arriving into South Africa by air, please fly into O.R. Tambo Airport in Johannesburg. From there you are welcome to take advantage of the transfer bus laid on by the project, which goes to all three of the South African reserves and to Botswana. Please enquire for times and prices. Should you arrive into Johannesburg before your start date and wish to take advantage of the bus, you will need to return to a backpackers / guest house close to the airport to meet the transfer.

General details about the camps

- Electricity

There is no electricity at any of the camps – paraffin and solar lamps are used for all lighting, and a generator is used to charge camera batteries and other essential electricals. A headlamp is recommended and please bring an extra battery or two!

The kitchen is equipped with gas fridges for storage of all perishable food items. Fresh drinking water, cordial and teas and coffees are freely available and the camps also sell a selection of affordable fizzy drinks (cash only).

The generators are for camp use and will not be switched on for the sole purpose of charging cameras or other equipment.

- Laundry

A hand washing laundry service is provided at a nominal weekly fee. Students are asked to please wash their own underwear.

- Staff in Camp

For the duration of your stay, there will usually be a head instructor, assistant instructor and camp coordinator, plus kitchen and cleaning staff.

- Communications

There is no wifi and limited cell phone coverage at any of the camps. Please let your friends and family back home know that communication will be sporadic.

Pricing and Dates

When can I volunteer?

The 2017-2018 programme start dates are:

1st - 28th September 2017 - Tuli, Botswana
5th June - 3rd July 2018 - South West Kruger, South Africa
2nd - 29th September 2018 - 
Tuli, Botswana

If these dates are not convenient, there is a 7 and 14 day programme run from these locations, plus the accredited 55 day Field Guide Course.

If you cannot find a course which suits your available dates, please enquire and we will do our best to find you an alternative placement!

2017-2018 Pricing:

28 day Safari Guide Course 2017: ZAR 46,600 (approx. US $3,495
28 day Safari Guide Course 2018: ZAR 50,500 (approx. US $3,795)

Please note all prices are in South African Rand.

What's included in the price:

  • Full board and lodging for the duration of your programme including laundry (exc. alcoholic and fizzy drinks)
  • Instructors and Training
  • Bush walks and drives
  • T-shirt, shirt and cap
  • Practical instruction on wildlife and plant identification as well as spoors, tracking and
  • animal behaviour
  • All course-related transport and equipment required to do your work
  • 24 hour support from the course leaders

The price does not include:

  • Flights
  • Visa fees
  • Personal expenses such as souvenirs, drinks, snacks etc
  • Pre-programme accommodation (if required)
  • Transfers from Johannesburg to the project location (using the project bus or your own vehicle)

Project Gallery - 28 Day Safari Guide Courses - South Africa

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