Wildlife Courses - South Africa and Botswana

South Africa

Become a guardian of nature and grow your wildlife knowledge, through amazing practical experiences in some of Africa’s most spectacular wilderness areas.

If you want to experience a bush holiday, have amazing animal experiences and learn all about the environment, join one of our wildlife courses and be immersed in the natural world, at a choice of wilderness camps in South Africa and Botswana. Our wildlife courses  will provide you with practical and theoretical knowledge of animals, birds, trees and ecology, and you will have a fantastic wildlife experience.

Ideal for gap year students, mature travellers, researchers and African adventurers who are passionate about nature, our short and long term wildlife courses will ensure you have an in-depth experience and gain a greater understanding of Africa's large and small animals and birds.

On each course you will undertake daily morning and evening activities, alternating between game walks and drives. As well as learning about wildlife, trees, reptiles and birds, tracking skills and how to survive in the bush, you may also learn about camp management and maintenance of equipment and vehicles. 

Whether you have one week or two months to spare, we are sure we have a course to suit!

Quick Facts

Who can join: Able bodied wildlife enthusiasts aged over 16 (some courses over 18)
How long can I stay: 1 - 8 weeks
Accommodation: Camping
Transfer time: Variable depending on project
Pick up from: Johannesburg
Meals: 3 meals a day
Project numbers: up to 20
Start dates: Various throughout the year
How much: from $1,295

WHY CHOOSE A WILDLIFE COURSE?

Our wildlife courses are presented by some of the first and best providers of nature guide training in Africa. You will be based at some of South Africa and Botswana'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.

7-14 day EcoQuest Experience

Duration: 7 or 14 days
Location: South Africa, Botswana
Suitable for: nature lovers, those looking for an educational bush holiday
Requirements: 16 years plus, able to walk at least 2km

This course incorporates some aspects of the longer Safari Guide course and is aimed at people wanting to gain a greater understanding of nature and the environment, whilst experiencing the excitement of living in the bush.

About the course

The programme is split into two parts: learning about the elements of the natural world and how they are interconnected, and experiencing assets of safari guide training such as 4x4 driving, guiding techniques and animal identification.

You could be trained in two different game reserves, exposing you to a diversity of habitats and species. No other programme will match this variety of training environments, or the frequency of practical activities.

Course highlights

  • Gain an in-depth understanding of nature and the environment
  • Learn how to track big game and look for animal signs
  • Study the behaviour and interaction of larger wild animals that roam Africa’s wilderness areas
  • Practical instruction in how to drive a 4x4, plus bird, mammal and plant identification

What will I be doing?

The course covers the following topics, plus basic guiding skills:

  • Navigation and orientation in the bush
  • Ecology and geology
  • Animal tracks and tracking (large and small game)
  • Bird identification and behaviour
  • Animal behaviour
  • Astronomy and nocturnal animals (via camp-outs and night drives)
  • Bush skills
  • Common trees and shrubs, their cultural significance and medicinal uses

Course dates 2018

7-day programmes 14-day programmes
29th October - 4th November: South West of Kruger
14th - 20th November: North Kruger - FULL
22nd - 28th November: North Kruger
10th - 16th December: South West of Kruger
18th - 31st August: North Kruger / South West of Kruger
1st - 14th November: Tuli / North Kruger - FULL
1st - 14th November: North Kruger / Tuli - FULL

*Family EcoQuest

Course dates 2019

7-day programmes 14-day programmes
8th - 14th March: North Kruger
31st May - 6th June: South West of Kruger
24th - 30th August: North Kruger
16th - 22nd December: Tuli
15th - 28th June: North Kruger
10th - 23rd April: South West of Kruger
28th July - 10th August: Tuli / South West of Kruger
3rd - 16th November: South West of Kruger

Pricing

2018 / 2019 pricing for the courses are as follows:

7-day programme: ZAR 16,500 (around US $1,250) / ZAR 20,115 (around US $1,500)
14-day programme: ZAR 28,100 (around US $2,100) / ZAR 34,260 (around US $2,560)

Fees are payable in South African Rand (ZAR)

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7-14 day EcoTracker Experience

Duration: 7 or 14 days
Location: South Africa, Botswana
Suitable for: nature lovers, those wanting an educational bush holiday, gap year students, guides, researchers, trackers, anti-poaching operatives
Requirements: 16 years plus, able to walk at least 2km

This is the ultimate short wilderness immersion. Through the ancient art and science of animal tracking, you will truly connect with the wildlife of Africa on foot. You will learn track and sign identification, animal trailing and original hunter-gatherer techniques. The courses are mostly hosted by expert local Shangaan trackers.

About the course

The ancient survival skills of tracking have disappeared at an alarming rate. Without these skills, man’s connection to the earth and the environment is reduced, as the skills of tracking teach humans to live with an appreciation and respect for the natural world: crucial to our long-term survival.

Participants on the courses will learn from instructors certified from the Tracker Academy - South Africa’s only formally accredited tracker training school, who have dedicated themselves to mastering and passing on traditional skills.

Whether you have a dream of becoming a safari guide, or just want a more hands-on, in-depth African experience, this course has everything you need to learn more about the bush and Africa’s iconic wildlife and birds.

Course highlights

  • Immerse yourself in nature, live in unfenced wilderness campsites and be constantly exposed to wildlife
  • Undertake daily game walks accompanied by professional trackers
  • Study the behaviour, interaction and identification of animals and birds in the local ecosystem
  • Learn about mammals, birds, plants and trees

What will I be doing?

There are two main aspects to the course: Track and Sign Interpretation and Trailing (following animal trails). You will also learn basic hunter-gatherer techniques.

Track and sign interpretation

This part of the course examines the signs left by mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians and invertebrates. All learning takes place in the field, and the practical training is supported by field guides, photographs and presentations.

Trailing

This part of the course involves following tracks to find an animal. Mastering the art of trailing takes years, and this aspect of the course requires a good level of fitness and the ability to focus mentally.

Your instructors are some of the best in South Africa, and students will practice trailing animals under their watchful eyes! You will also learn to interpret mammal and bird alarm calls, animal behaviour and learn to assess the age of tracks.

7-day course 14-day course
This gives participants a basic to intermediate understanding of track and sign interpretation. The syllabus covers: Students have a more comprehensive introduction to track and sign identification, trailing and hunter-gatherer techniques. The focus is to spend time trailing animals such as elephant, rhino, buffalo and lion, all on foot. The syllabus covers:
  • Theory of animal tracking
  • Track and sign identification (core)
  • Hunter-gatherer techniques
  • Theory of animal tracking
  • Track and sign identification (core)
  • Hunter-gatherer techniques
  • Following animal trails (core)

Course dates 2018

7-day programmes 14-day programmes
28th July - 3rd August: North Kruger - FULL
26th August - 1st September: Tuli - FULL
20th June - 3rd July: Tuli - FULL

Course dates 2019

7-day programmes 14-day programmes
18th - 24th February: North Kruger
4th - 10th June: West Kruger
1st - 7th August: West Kruger
15th - 28th July: Tuli

Pricing

2018 / 2019 pricing for the courses are as follows:

7-day programme: ZAR 15,700 (around US $1,175) / ZAR 16,960 (around US $1,275)
14-day programme: ZAR 27,800 (around US $2,080) / ZAR 33,895 (around US $2,550)

Fees are payable in South African Rand (ZAR)

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Wilderness Photography

Duration: 7 days
Location: Botswana
Suitable for: amateur photographers wishing to learn the basics of wildlife photography
Requirements: 16 years plus, own equipment

Learn the thought processes behind the making of a good wildlife photograph. The course gives photographers the time and opportunity to put these thoughts into action in the field, under the guidance of an experienced wildlife photographer.

About the course

Participants spend mornings and afternoons in the bush looking for interesting photographic opportunities, followed by a daily lecture and constructive criticism of any digital photos taken during each activity.

The course consists of five modules:

  • Understanding exposure
  • Composition
  • Understanding light
  • Photographic guiding skills
  • Editing images and social media

Within the modules you will cover subjects such as:

  • Equipment and lighting
  • Backgrounds
  • Depth of field and exposure
  • Composition
  • Impact
  • Story-telling
  • Action and motion sequences

Course dates 2018

3rd - 9th August: Tuli - FULL

Course dates 2019

2nd - 8th March: Tuli
24th - 30th August: Tuli

Pricing

2018 / 2019 pricing: ZAR 15,700 (around US $1,295) / ZAR 20,415 (around US $1,525)

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Birding in the Bush

Duration: 7 days
Location: South Africa
Suitable for: birders and those interested in finding out more about the smaller residents of the bush!
Requirements: 16 years plus, able to walk at least 2km

Birding has become increasingly popular in the last decade, and most visitors to Africa want to do more than simply spot large game. This is a very popular, practical seven-day course, catering for more than just your average bird-watcher!

About the course

The course caters for those who wish to learn the basics of bird identification, or improve their existing skills. Most of the time is spent out in the field, learning how to identify birds by sight or sound.

The course consists of six modules:

  • Evolution
  • Anatomy and physiology
  • Habitats and environments
  • Bird identification
  • Bird behaviour
  • Ethics

Course dates 2018

17th - 23rd September: North Kruger
4th - 19th November: South West of Kruger

Course dates 2019

27th February - 5th March: South West of Kruger
27th August - 2nd September: South West of Kruger
29th November - 5th December: West Kruger

Pricing

2018 / 2019 pricing for programme: ZAR 15,700 (around US $1,175) / ZAR 16,460 (around US $1,235)

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28 day Safari Guide Experience

Duration: 28 days
Location: South Africa / Botswana
Suitable for: nature lovers, gap year students, volunteers, interns, researchers
Requirements: 16 years plus, able to walk at least 2km

This course is aimed at those wishing to experience a bush holiday, while also learning about their environment. It is for those who are passionate about nature and who would like a more in-depth experience and understanding of it.

About the course

Wild animals will walk through your unfenced campsite as you have a wilderness adventure not experienced by ordinary tourists. The course will give you theoretical and practical knowledge of animals, birds, trees and ecology and you will undertake daily morning and afternoon activities, alternating between game walks and drives.
You will help with camp management and vehicle maintenance and, depending on your camp, you may undertake basic firearms training. No other programme will match this variety of training environments, or the frequency of practical activities.

Course highlights

  • Gain an in-depth understanding of nature and the environment
  • Learn how to track big game and understand animal behaviour
  • Undertake daily game walks and drives accompanied by experienced professional guides
  • Live in unfenced wilderness campsites, surrounded by the sights and sounds of the bush

What will I be doing?

You will study 16 topics during the course, and cover theoretical and practical skills in wildlife guiding and conservancy management, as well as wildlife instruction.
The 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
Tracks, signs and basic tracking skills
Habitat management
Historical human habitation
Basic firearm theory

There is a practical assessment at the end of the programme, but this is not compulsory. Most students do choose to take it, as it gives a sense of purpose while doing the course. On completion of the project, you will be given a certificate of participation outlining what you have covered.

Course dates 2018

2nd - 29th September: Tuli - FULL

Course dates 2019

6th June - 3rd July: South West of Kruger
2nd - 29th September: Tuli

Pricing

2018 / 2019 pricing is as follows: ZAR 50,500 (around US $3,775) / ZAR 61,560 (around US $4,605)

Fees are payable in South African Rand (ZAR)

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Field Guide Level 1 (55 days)

Duration: 55 days
Location: South Africa / Botswana / Zimbabwe
Suitable for: school leavers, career and gap year candidates, those looking for an extended educational holiday or a sabbatical / career break, researchers, interns
Requirements: 18 years plus, able to walk at least 2km, driver’s licence (manual), first aid certification (can be done after the course)

Every minute on this course is a learning experience, where you are surrounded by iconic wildlife and struck by Africa’s natural beauty. It’ perfect whether you have chosen a career linked to wildlife in any country, or if you just want to learn more about the African bush.

About the course

Although this course forms the foundation for a career in guiding or wildlife, many participants sign up simply as a gap year experience or extended bush holiday.

The course offers a solid base of practical skills and theoretical knowledge, applicable across the world in the environmental and wildlife sectors. Forest and park rangers is the USA or Australia would be able to apply the universal principals of ecology, animal behaviour, astronomy, client interaction and conservation principles, as would rangers in Europe or Canada.

For a gap year or bush holiday, you walk away with a unique wealth of knowledge about the natural environment. Add to that the wonderful friendships formed from living with like-minded people from across the world, experiencing the adrenaline and peace that comes with living in the wilderness.

Course highlights

  • A foundation for a career in field guiding and other wildlife and environmental careers
  • Cover a huge range of subjects in depth through daily practical activities and classroom lectures
  • Immerse yourself in African wildlife and learn about mammals, trees, birds and plants
  • Learn from some of South Africa’s most experienced trainers and guides

What will I be doing?

You will study 16 topics during the course, and cover theoretical and practical skills in wildlife guiding and conservancy management, as well as wildlife identification and behaviour.
The course covers:

Planning of game drives and walks
Navigation and orientation
Guiding and radio procedures
Ecology
Geology and soils
Astronomy
Weather and climate
Basic taxonomy
Plants and grasses

Insects
Amphibians
Fish
Reptiles
Birds
Mammals
Animal behaviour
Plant identification and uses
Tracks, signs and basic tracking skills

Students will also gain skills in off-road driving, guiding and hosting clients, navigation and orientation and vehicle maintenance. These will be covered in formal lectures and workshops as well as out in the field - observing and learning about what is around you.

There is a practical and written assessment at the end of the course, but this is not compulsory. Should you pass, you will receive a Level 1 FGASA (Field Guides Association of Southern Africa) certification which could be the first part of your guiding career. Assessments are conducted by instructors (who are accredited assessors) at the camp.

Course dates 2018

12th August - 5th October: Zimbabwe - FULL
8th September - 1st November: West Kruger / South West Kruger - FULL
4th October - 27th November: West Kruger - FULL

Course dates 2019

4th January - 27th February: South West of Kruger / West Kruger
24th February - 19th April: South West of Kruger / Tuli
7th April - 31st May: West Kruger / South West of Kruger
10th June - 3rd August: West Kruger / South West of Kruger
10th July - 2nd September: West Kruger
11th October - 4th December: West Kruger / North Kruger

Pricing

2018 / 2019 pricing for the course: ZAR 89,000 (around US $6,655) / ZAR 97,000 (around US $7,255)

Fees are payable in South African Rand (ZAR)

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FAQs

Do I need any experience to join a course?

You do not need any prior wildlife experience to join the courses, 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. Courses may have their own specific additional requirements - please enquire for details.

What does the cost include?

Each of our course fees include:

  • Full board and lodging for the duration of your programme (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 fees do not include:

  • Flights
  • Visa fees
  • Transfers from Johannesburg to the first project location (either using the project bus or your own vehicle)
  • Personal expenses such as souvenirs, drinks, snacks etc.
  • Pre-programme accommodation (if required)
  • Advanced first aid certification (if required)
  • Examination fee (optional)

What are the camps like?

All the camps are based in the heart of amazing wilderness areas, home to large numbers of iconic African animals. Each camp is different, but in most cases you will share a tent or chalet with one other person (same sex sharing), and there is hot and cold running water, flush toilets and shared ablutions. Please request our Wildlife Courses brochure for more details.

Are meals provided?

Yes, three meals a day are provided, prepared for you by the camp manager and their team. Tea and coffee is freely available and drinking water is also provided.

How do I keep in touch?

None of the camps have internet access, so it is best to let friends and family know that you may be out of touch for a while. A local SIM card can give you access to 3G where it is available. The camps do not have electricity and have a back-up generator or solar panels for charging cameras and other essential electrical items. 

Do I need a visa?

Most European countries do not require a tourist visa to enter South Africa, for stays of up to 90 days. However, please check with your local South African or Botswanan embassy prior to travel to determine if a visa is required before you leave.

If you have any other questions, please do not hesitate to get in touch!

Project Gallery - Wildlife Courses - South Africa and Botswana

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