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Hello Forum folks, Thanks for the community. I've been researching FGASA Level 1 courses or those with a similar curriculum, I'm doing it for personal interest as opposed to necessarily wanting it for professional credentials (yet...) Any info/advice/recommendations for more affordable, possibly shorter than 10 week courses in Southern Africa or possible work exchanges arrangements at camps or lodges would be very much appreciated. I have info on the more prominent orgs (ANT, EcoTraining, Limpopo, etc), just fishing around to see what other options might be out there. I'm finishing up 2 years of volunteer service in southern Swaziland mid to end of August this year. And... Though I feel like I know the answer to this question... is it realistic to think I'd be able to stay anywhere with my 2 young dogs? Many thanks for any info. Cheers, Linda
There are few names and faces that are as synonymous with Motswari as Godfrey Mathebula and his engaging smile. While most staff consider Motswari to be their ‘home away from home’, for Godfrey, Motswari has quite literally always been his home. Godfrey was born on Java, owner Paul Geiger’s original property, where his parents looked after the camp. As a young boy he helped his Dad with various odd jobs like watering the grounds and collecting firewood – eagerly soaking up his father’s knowledge of the land that can never be learned in books. Later, Paul Geiger taught him himself how to use tools and do handy work around the camp. The Geiger family financially supported him through school and then gave him a job in the workshop where he quickly worked his way up to manager at the age of just 23! Godfrey’s passion for the bush meant he burned the midnight oil after work to study field guiding – scoring an impressive 90% in his first FGASA exam. Once qualified, he quickly became the most requested guide at the lodge and has since achieved his Nature Level 3, advanced rifle handling, trails guide and the highest level qualification on offer – his SKS (Special Knowledge and Skills - Birding) and been promoted to Assistant General Manager! We decided it was time to get to know him a bit better with a quick Q & A session. Job Title: Assistant General Manager – Motswari Private Game Reserve An interesting fact about yourself: I am passionate about birds – I listen to bird calls instead of music! Sometimes people think there are birds trapped in my house, but it’s just the sounds. What made you want to work in the hospitality industry? To meet different people from different parts of the world and understand their culture. How long have you worked at the property and briefly describe your studies/career path? 15 years working at Motswari & studied guiding and management. What have you done to make your mark on the property/experience? I have always shared my passion with visitors and done all I can to make guests want to return to Motswari – we have a lot of return guests! Are there any exciting things going on at the hotel/reserve this year? We launched the Motswari book this year – The Story of Motswari! It’s a great selection of photos and lots of information about the lodge and I have my own page! We’ve also completed some very positive renovation work in the rooms so everything is looking very fresh. We’ve also had a world famous pianist perform at Motswari and we used this performance to raise money and awareness of the rhino situation. What three words would your friends use to describe you? Friendly, gentle and passionate… I hope! What is your favourite thing about your job? Talking to guests – apparently I talk too much, but I love hearing about the different lives that pass through Motswari and how excited people are to see the animals that live in this reserve. Are there any real characters at the hotel? There are lots of characters and they all bring something different to the team. Some of the stories are amazing and there is a book about the Women of Motswari that is very popular with our guests. Who is your longest serving staff member? Rexon Nziyane has worked as a waiter for 28 years – he is definitely a character! His name is actually Jack, but someone at Motswari changed it many years ago and it has just stuck. He is called Rexon at Motswari and Jack everywhere else! Do you have a favourite dish at Motswari? As long as it’s in a cake, I love it! An interesting fact about the lodge that is not very well known? The staff are like an extended family and Motswari in tswana means to ''keep and conserve’ which we have tried to do for 40 years as a family When is your favourite time of the year in the Reserve? The whole year is great but I specifically like winter – I don’t like to wear shorts and it gets very, very hot in summer! Which is your favourite room at the hotel and why? Elephant Room is the furthest and the most peaceful. If you could change three things in the industry, what would they be? I would like guests to stay longer so I can get to know them better. Increase traversing ground – we have enough land, but it’s always good to have more! Introduce late night game drive activity. Who has been the biggest inspiration/influence in your career? The Geiger family have done a lot for me and the Motswari management. If you were not doing this job, what would you be doing? I would become a pilot or a business person. What is the best advice you recall? To be positive and be focused What's your favourite city/part of Africa and why? Cape Town, South Africa. Specifically due to its good birdlife. What is your motto in life? There is no shortcut to success in life. What is your favourite mode of travel? Travelling by car. If you had a super power what would it be and why? Be able to fly – understand my birds even more! What item do you always take with you when travelling? Pen to write with. What are your hobbies? Birding, Star gazing and Game viewing – watching animals in their natural habitat is very exciting and I can see things today that I have never seen before… even after all this time How do you cope with the advances in technology? Do you tweet? I’ll cope fair with the technology. My birds tweet, but I don’t! What’s your favourite movie of all time? The Sword in the Stone (I will be teased about that!) What’s your favourite programme on the TV right now? ‘Shift’ (specifically talking about the future of Our South African county) If you were a celebrity who would you choose to be and why? Bishop S.Morton, because he is friendly with all people. If you could have a room full of any one thing, what would it be? A room full of reading books. Idyllically located on the banks of the Sohebele River, Mostawari is a traditional vintage bush lodge with a high 4 star rating and has been owned and managed by the Geiger family for over 30 years. Motswari offers luxurious accommodation, personalised service and some of the most skilled rangers you will find anywhere. The focus at Motswari is not just on ticking off the “Big 5” game including their famous white lions, but on the appreciation of Nature, the beauty of its indigenous bush and the animals that thrive there. Granted Gold Class status by the Heritage Environmental Management Company and accredited by Fair Trade in Tourism, South Africa (FTTSA), Motswari (a name that means “to serve and protect” in the Setswana language) also embraces the principles of responsible tourism: community growth, environmental sustainability and wildlife conservation. For more information on visiting Motswari visit www.newmarkhotels.com
Good afternoon Safaritalkers (it's afternoon here in Kenya)! I'd like to bring your attention to the privately guided safaris I'll be running from now on under the company "Africa & You" based here in Kenya. One of the best things about booking a privately guided safari is that your safari itinerary will be 100% custom designed to your specific tastes in accommodation, what you'd like to see, and where you'd like to go. No part of Kenya (or indeed East Africa) is impossible and no idea too wild. I'm happy to organise safaris focused on birds, paleontology, big game, or walking and wilderness (or anything else that might tickle your fancy). I have attached a document here with two sample itineraries. It is important to note that they are ONLY samples. There are no off-the-shelf cookie-cutter safaris here. Feel free to contact me on email@example.com for more information A&Y PVT Guided Safaris sample itineraries.pdf A little about me: I'm a 4th generation Kenyan, and have grown up with a great appreciation for East Africa’s wild places and natural history through safaris and camping trips with family and friends from a very young age. I joined my primary school's Birdwatching Club at age 11 and have been birding ever since. I've nurtured a passion for the smaller aspects of life away from the “big 5” safari norm - birds, spiders, insects, and frogs interest me far more than a sleepy lion under a tree - but the anticipation of driving through riverine forest looking for an elusive leopard still gives me goosebumps. Above and beyond this, spending hours walking through the bush, seeing, smelling, and feeling the rhythm of the wilderness is what brings me the greatest joy. When I'm not guiding or helping to design an itinerary from the office, I'm happy to pack a tent in the car and head off on my own to learn and discover new areas. I am a Gold-Level member of the Kenya Professional Safari Guides Association (KPSGA) and a "Level 2", and "back-up trails guide" member of the Field Guides Association of Southern Africa (FGASA)
armchair bushman posted a topic in Safari talkHaving read @@zimproguide's interview HERE with great interest, I thought it might be interesting to have a comparison of the different guiding qualifications from around Africa. The interview linked above provides a pretty complete overview of what all is entailed in obtaining a Zimbabwean Professional Hunting and Guides Association Licence. Any Pro guides from Zambia, Botswana, TZ, UG, or other countries are welcome to jump in here to provide an overview of how their certification process works. For those who are interested, I can give you a breakdown of the current FGASA qualifications system, as well as the KPSGA system. FGASA: - Step 1. Join a FGASA accredited academy (or self study) for a minimum of two months (this changed from 1 month a couple of years ago). Engage in daily theory and practical training. Practical training should cover basic vehicle maintenance, basic meal prep, game drive prep, game drives, guest briefings, walks, presentations on various topics (trees, tracks, dung, etc), etc. Theory training covers material in the FGASA Level 1 learner manual. Most schools/academies have a number of internal exams (both practical and theoretical) to help students prepare for the FGASA exam. - Step 2. Take the FGASA Level 1 Theory examination. If I remember right, you have to achieve 60% or more in order to pass. - Step 3. Take the FGASA Level 1 Practical examination. You cannot do this until you have passed the theory. Generally both theory and prac exams are given at your school/academy where you have been studying for the previous 2 months by your FGASA accredited assessor. - Step 4. Get employed, and begin logging all guiding experience in your logbook. Generally, game drives, bird walks, bush walks count. Examples given for the Zim process that a "gopher" would do don't generally count (like fixing a landrover, pulling a mokoro out of the mud, trapping a problematic monkey, etc). You must log at least 260 days of valid guiding experience before you can hand in your log book. A superior (head guide, camp manager, company director, or sometimes a guest if you're freelance) must sign each log in your book as recognition that you have actually gained that experience. -Step 5. Send your completed, signed logbook to FGASA office and wait for them to check it, sign it off themselves, and send back to you. Once they've signed it and sent it back, you're eligible to take the FGASA Level 2 Theory. - Step 6. Obtain all FGASA Level 2 materials (Learner manual, Guiding Skills Manual, workbooks, etc.) - Step 7. Attend a national (or special/private) sitting for the FGASA Level 2 Theory examination. You must pass this in order to be eligible for the practical. - Step 8. Organize a practical examination with a FGASA accredited assessor. Most assessors like to take at least 2 days to complete a full assessment. This will involve game drives, bush walks (although this may depend on whether the guide has Trails guide qualification or not - more on that qualification later!), food prep, game drive prep, guest interaction, honest, ability to handle difficult situations, and a number of other factors that would come up in daily 'guiding life'. A Level 2 workbook will also have to have been completed beforehand. The workbook includes both level 2 theory as well as a number of 'electives' that have to be worked through. For example: "Manage and minimize risk in an emergency situation", "Birding Elective", "Design and plan a private guided itinerary". Each has a number of parameters and conditions that must be met. All this will be checked by the assessor to ensure they have been completed to a satisfactory level. Throughout the practical exam, each parameter is measured as either "Pass" or "Not yet Proficient". I believe you have to attain a 70% in order to pass overall. - Step 9. Repeat step 4, filling in the logbook for another 260 days. - Step 10. Repeat step 5. - Step 11. Repeat step 6, obtaining all necessary materials prior to exam (Main textbook, 3 elective handbooks, two workbooks, etc.) and complete them. - Step 12. Repeat step 7 for Level 3 Theory - Step 13. Repeat step 8. Level 3 Practical exams generally take about 3 days, and are more in depth than previous 2 practical exams. Not quite the same level as the Zim guides, requiring a full fly camp setup for a week, but still pretty involved. After you've completed Level 3, you can go on and specialize, getting what's known as SKS (Special Knowledge Skills) qualifications. The main SKS quals are: Birding, Wild Flowers, dangerous game. However, if you happen to be an expert in a particular field, or if you want to become an expert, you can make a proposal to design your own SKS syllabus. if this proposal is accepted by FGASA, you go on to blaze your own trail. (If/when I get to this stage, I will most likely write a proposal to create an SKS arthropods or SKS Spiders syllabus, because I'm a nerd). Another separate qualification you can get in tandem to going through the different FGASA levels is the Trails Guide qualification. Only guides who have first passed their FGASA Level 1 theory and practical, are eligible to begin Trails Guide training. Step 1 (after level 1). Obtain all trails guide study materials (2 learner manuals, 2 workbooks, 1 logbook). Begin working through them Step 2. Begin apprenticeship under a qualified FGASA Trails Guide, Advanced Trails Guide, or SKS DG guide. This basically just includes accompanying the mentor guide on all walks as a pseudo back-up guide. You're the donkey. You carry all the extra equipment, water, first aid, etc. You don't talk unless you're specifically addressed. You keep an eye out in all directions while the head guide is interacting with clients. You'll need to log all your hours and all your encounters in a separate DG log book. A minimum of 50 hours and 20 encounters is required. This logbook must then be sent in to FGASA for approval and signing off. Step 3. Take the FGASA Back-up Trails Theory examination. You must pass this in order to be eligible to take the two separate practical examinations. The theory exam covers both trails guide/dangerous game material, as well as rifles, rifle handling, ballistics, and South African law pertaining to wildlife and firearms. Step 4 (interchangeable order with step 5). Take the Advanced Rifle Handling practical. This involves a number of different exercises from loading and unloading a rifle blindfolded to basic target practice, to timed target practice, to simulated charge practice. 6 exercises in all. Each has to be passed in a specific order. Step 5. Take the FGASA back-up trails guide practical examination. This is a culmination of the previous experience gained. You accompany the trails guide assessor on a walk or two demonstrating your knowledge of all flora and fauna, as well as handling specific dangerous game situations. The assessor looks at your rifle handling (do you ever point it at guests? Do you ever hold the muzzle? do you ever put the muzzle in the dirt? etc), your handling of potentially dangerous situations, your situational awareness, consideration of wind direction, consideration of animal awareness zones, handling of difficult clients, etc. Once you pass this, you are now a FGASA Back-Up Trails Guide. You are still not qualified to lead walks with guests on your own, but are now officially qualified as a back-up, basically an assistant to a lead guide. Step 6. Gain experience with a mentor/trails guide, accompanying him/her on all walks in the capacity of back-up trails guide. You can take over a situation if your lead guide is incapacitated, but otherwise they are in control. You're still pretty much a donkey carrying all the equipment. You have to now log an additional 100 hours walking and an additional 50 encounters/approaches. All logs must be signed by your mentor/assessor. This then gets sent off to FGASA to be approved and signed off. Step 7. once you have received your logbook back, having obtained the necessary number of walking hours and approaches, you are now eligible to be assessed as a FGASA Lead Trails Guide in a practical assessment. If/when you pass this assessment, you are now a fully qualified FGASA Trails Guide and can lead walks alone with paying clients. Step 8. From here, you can continue logging more hours and doing new rifle handling assessments in order to obtain Advanced Trails guide, and then more to obtain Trails Guide SKS Dangerous Game, and so on.
We hired a new guide a few weeks ago. Brand new out of the box, with the ink still wet on his FGASA certificates, but full of passion for the african bush. It was no surprise then to find out that he had been brought up in the bush which was ably demonstrated by the high level of field knowledge he has shown. But, he still has a long way to go and to start with will shadow our experienced guides over the next year or so. But on his very first morning as I was explaining what we do, one question he asked me, let me know that he has the right mind set. “What makes an On Track Safari” Of-course I could have given him our stock answers, we believe in responsible and sustainable travel, we have good green credentials and our safaris raise funds for our work with leopard conservation, but he should know all of that already. However, there is something else that is often difficult for a young guide to understand and then maintain i.e. that of providing a real safari experience. There is a very fine line to walk that requires the personal touch and sensitivity to each individuals needs, such that we can maintain a real safari experience for each safari guest. The quality of your guide and his empathy with each individual guest, is for us, the most important factor in any safari and is something that we spend a lot of time on getting right. For now our latest recruit shows all the signs of being a great addition to our team and we’re hopeful that he’ll be a star for the future. Who knows one day he may even take my job!
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