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FGASA Field Guiding and Conservation Career Internship in South Africa

Spend 23 weeks training in the African bush with an optional 1 month, 3 month or 6 month non-guiding placement.

Program Code: ZABF0818N

Program Information

Join us in South Africa’s Lowveld region, one of the world’s best big game territories, and train to become a qualified field guide while experiencing the African bush at its most exquisite. This course, which is available to anyone 18 years or older, provides a training platform for prospective field guides or conservation professionals who are eager to get a head start in these competitive industries.

United Nations
Sustainable Development Goals

Overview

The FGASA Field Guiding and Conservation Careers Internship allows you to choose your Internship Placements, ranging from 1, 3 or 6 months, depending on the time commitment you wish to make to gain practical experience and improve your CV, ahead of looking for a job in the industry. See the project details tab for more info on each of the specific internship placements and what they each entail.

All Bushwise trainers are highly experienced and Field Guide Association of Southern Africa (FGASA) certified. This accredited course embodies both theoretical and practical elements, which will provide you with full FGASA accreditation.

The course is known for producing the highest calibre of graduates for an in-demand industry. Throughout our years of operation, our graduates have achieved the highest marks of all the FGASA long term providers, and are considered some of the best trained professional guides in the industry.

Students on this course have an opportunity to undertake a career exposure internship (with varying lengths) after completion of the 6 month certified course. This allows you to gain valuable hands-on experience, as well as cementing the information and skills learnt during the training period, as you ‘set foot-in-the-door' towards the exhilarating and competitive safari tourism industry or in the direction of your intended wildlife and/or conservation career.

For this particular course, the following internships are offered:

  • 6 months non-guiding internship

  • 3 months non-guiding internship

  • 1 month non-guiding internship


It is important to consider that the internship allocation is determined by the Bushwise head trainer, and is based on your performance, interest and our formal T’s & C’s. All students must pass both the FGASA exam and course requirements before starting any placement longer than 3 months.

Possible activities you could get involved with and exposed to on career exposure internship:

  • Wildlife research and monitoring: spend time with a dedicated team of researchers learning about what life is like as a field researcher, logistics, research techniques and data collection.

  • Anti-poaching: learn from the dedicated anti-poaching personnel about anti-poaching techniques, essentially a real’ hands on’ and ‘boots on the ground’ experience.

  • Assisting at an ecotourism lodge: assist in all departments of a luxury ecotourism lodge to see how it works behind the scenes and gain new skills and experiences.

  • Environmental education and animal rehabilitation: help a team to teach local children the importance of protecting wildlife, care for injured or abandoned wildlife.

  • Game farming and reserve management: get involved in some of the activities on game farm and intensive breeding programmes and get stuck in to some hands on reserve management tasks and activities.


The career exposure placements provide you with the opportunity to gain experience in the fields of research, anti-poaching, and more, all while getting practical insight and experience and learning about what life will be like a field guide. You are guaranteed to get a practical head start on the other guides in the industry, and to solidify yourself as a field guide to be reckoned with, as soon as you turn 21 and are able to acquire your PrDP (driver’s permit).

Program Details

Select a Start Date

  • 2019
  • 2020
  • 2021

Select a Duration

Select a start date first.

Select Add-Ons

+ £15
 

Life On Base

Living on base in Mahlahla provides you with the perfect opportunity to trade a traditional office environment for a work week that unfolds in the heart of the African bushveld. Spend time in the wild on game drives, tracking animal spoor, identifying different types of fauna and flora, learning more about field guiding and also generally getting to know your fellow international students in front of the campfire at night.

Accommodation Tour

ACCOMMODATION

Accomodation in Mahlahla is rural, in the bush, and away from the hustle and bustle of modern city life. Your experience will involve sleeping in shared huts directly on campus. You will also have access to communal spaces for socialising and relaxation, a braai (barbeque area), pool, communal bathrooms, and kitchen facilities, providing you with a fully immersive wildlife experience. Accommodation on GVI’s base in Mahlahla is just a short distance away from central Hoedspruit, a town situated at the foot of the Klein Drakensberg.

MEALS

Generally, students prepare their own breakfasts in the communal dining area, which usually consists of toast, cereal and a variety of coffees and teas. The remaining meals are provided directly on campus, along with a fridge containing soft drinks and other snacks, which you will be able to purchase directly from one of the staff members on base.

COMMUNICATION

Long distance communications are available on campus, but connectivity in the region is limited. There is WiFi on campus, in the communal study area near the pool, but considering the base location, signal can be temperamental at times. Students typically venture to Hoedspruit in their time off, where internet is available at cafe’s and various shops.

TRANSPORTATION

All transport will be taken care of by the GVI staff on the ground, including game drives, frogging expeditions and general tasks in and around campus. You will however, be responsible for your airport transfer from Hoedspruit to campus. Further travel is expected to be organised by the students themselves if you are looking to travel into town, you can check in with local  students who might have brought their own transportation and organise team trips where possible.

CLIMATE

Limpopo is known for having a small amount of rainfall throughout the year. The year round average temperature in the area is 21.5 °C, with January being the warmest month of the year. The lowest temperatures occur in July, which is the peak winter in South Africa. It can get very humid during summer and spring months, so be sure to pack accordingly depending on when you will be taking part on a program.

What's It like?

If you’d like to find out what the experience of joining a GVI project is really like, simply contact us and we’ll put you in touch with one of our many Alumni.

We’ll try to match you to an Alum based on your location, nationality, age, stage of academic career, gender, and program interests. This allows you to gain insights into the experience that is most relevant to you.

Depending on your location you might be able to speak to an Alum over the phone or online, or meet up with them face-to-face at a coffee shop nearby. We also run a series of small events around the world where you can speak to GVI Alumni, Ambassadors and staff members.

Arrivals

When it comes to support, we ensure that each participant is provided with unparalleled, 360 degree support, from your initial contact with the GVI Family, all the way through your program, and even after, as you become part of the GVI Alumni Team.


As part of this promise, we will ensure, whenever possible, that one of our dedicated staff will be available to meet you at the airport. In most locations, we also set up a Whatsapp group to help with managing airport arrivals. We will arrange with you prior to your departure that, should you arrive in the agreed upon pick up window, a member of our staff will be there to welcome you, easily identifiable in a GVI t-shirt or holding a GVI sign and wearing a friendly smile. This means there will be someone there to greet you as you land, and from there you will be transported to your GVI base to start your adventure and meet the rest of your team.


Your Impact

All of our programs have short, mid and long-term objectives that fit with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals or UN SDGs. This enables us to report on our collaborative impact across the world in a streamlined manner, measuring which UN SDGs we are making a substantial contribution to. Furthermore, this will help our local partners and communities measure and visualise their contribution to the UN SDGs.


Upon arrival to base, you will be educated about the history of the UN SDGs. You will learn about the specific goals of your location, the long-, mid- and short-term objectives, and also clarification of how your personal, shorter-term involvement contributes to these goals on a global level.


Our aim is to educate you on local and global issues, so that you continue to act as active global citizens after your program, helping to fulfil our mission of building a global network of people united by their passion to make a difference.


Our Limpopo based programs are primarily aimed at developing the wildlife conservation sector, boosting the local economy by providing additional skills in the field, and providing high quality training to students from all over the world.


Project Objectives

 


GVI Mahlahla, Limpopo’s Long-term Objectives:


1. Focusing on training students to the highest standard possible, in both theoretical knowledge and practical experience.


2. Improving the employability prospects of field guides within the conservation industry, providing them with the skills necessary to specialise within their areas of interest.


3.Teaching up to field guiding level 2 field guide standards, providing more than just the basics offered at training providers elsewhere on the continent.


4. Growing Bushwise Recruitment, a branch of the business dedicated to finding jobs for participants after the successful completion of a six month program, and a six month placement.


5.Protecting and preserving the natural wildlife habitat of the Limpopo area.


Training

A GVI program is an investment in your career. No matter which you choose, you will be working toward improving your employability by mastering new social skills, gaining further technical expertise and earning qualifications in many cases. Most of our staff are, in fact, GVI Alumni, and we have helped many of our Alumni discover, move toward, and earn their own personal dream jobs. Each program includes introductory workshops, ongoing presentations, as well as on-the-ground professional support provided by our very own trained staff members. In addition, our training programs are critical for helping us to ensure the long-term impact of our sustainable development projects around the world.


For All GVI Participants

Welcome Presentation

Introduction to GVI as a whole and the work in your specific location. Learn about the short, mid, and long-term objectives of the sustainable development projects at your base, which United Nations Development Goals they impact most directly, and which local partners we work with.


Health and Safety Training

Learn about the Emergency Action Plans in place at your base, the full Risk Assessment, and best practices for personal safety.


Child and Vulnerable Adult Protection Training

Learn about the importance of child and vulnerable adult protection best practices and how to apply them while on project.


Exploration

Joining a program not only allows participants to collaborate with communities or work toward preserving unique ecosystems but it also offers plenty of opportunities to explore the surrounding area or travel further to see what other parts of the region have to offer.


Long term field staff are a great source of advice, and have helped us put together the following information on local travel options. Many decide to travel before or after their experience (subject to immigration restrictions), solidifying the lifetime friendships established on program. Please note that the below suggestions are not included in the program fee, and are for the individual to organise at their own expense.


Weekend Trips

Debengeni Falls, Tzaneen

Another one of the stunning local waterfalls, including a picnic area and hiking trails.

Giant Baobab/Upside Down Restaurant

Get up close with huge baobab trees, and don’t forget to try their world renowned pancakes.

Panorama Route

Bourke’s Luck potholes, God’s Window and waterfalls are just some of what you can see within a single Saturday, should you be up for the adventure.

Moholoholo Rehab Centre

Here, you are able to assist with the rehabilitation of endangered species during short term visits to the center.

Kruger National Park

Orpen and Phalabourwa Gates are less than two hours drive from the campus. Day Trips/overnight camping are available.

Blyde River Canyon

A trip through the canyon could include boat trips, kloofing, whitewater rafting, paintball, hot air ballooning and camping. This is the perfect opportunity to bond with your fellow students.

Further Travels

Visit Durban

Another major city in the country, Durban has a warmer climate than any other city in the country, with lush beaches and it’s own heritage tied closely to the Zulu culture.

Cederberg Mountains

The Cederberg Mountain Range is an exquisite sight to see for the adventure enthusiasts. Walk or hike your way through an experience that quite frankly, is only done justice in person, and not on photographs.

City of Johannesburg

One of the capital cities of South Africa, Johannesburg is a major city roughly a five hour drive from campus. Emerging suburbs bustling with culture includes Maboneng, Sandton and Fourways.

Cape Town

Robben Island, Table Mountain, The District 6 Museum, Castle of Good Hope or the Green Market Square craft markets are all once-in-a-lifetime experiences. A short flight from Johannesburg or directly out of Hoedspruit, it is well worth spending some time in the region at the end of your course or placement.

Cultural Immersion

Engaging intimately with a new context teaches not only global awareness but adaptability and critical thinking, skills highly valued in the modern marketplace. Local and cultural immersion is encouraged on all our programs around the world, and is also one of the most enjoyable aspects of your experience. Luckily, there are many activities you can get involved with in your free time, or before and after your program. On our community programs the focus is on cultural topics, while on marine or wildlife programs the emphasis is more on the environmental element. Use your evenings and weekends to explore diverse and eclectic topics like Theravada Buddhism in Laos or how plastic pollution and climate change affects Indian Ocean coral.


HOEDSPRUIT

Hoedspruit is a town situated at the foot of the Klein Drakensberg, in the Limpopo province of South Africa, on the railway line from Tzaneen to Kaapmuiden. From horse trails, reptile centers to wine and gin tastings, the local town gives you many opportunities to experience South African culture over and above your experience on campus.

DIVERSITY

The country has celebrated over twenty years of democracy, usher in by the inauguration of former president Nelson Mandela in a historical moment in 1994. Students are encouraged to learn more about both before and during their time visiting the country and engaging with the local population.

 

CULTURE

South Africa is the largest country in Southern Africa and the 25th largest country in the world by land area, with a diverse cultural population of over 56 million people. South Africa is often referred to as the rainbow nation to describe the country's multicultural diversity.

 

LANGUAGE

The majority of the population of South Africa is divided among a variety of ethnic groups speaking different African languages, nine of which have official status. In Hoedspruit and while on campus, the primary language of communication will be English.

Our Ethics

Below is a list of core ethics and best practices we believe are essential to the operation of high quality, ethical volunteer and sustainable development programs. We believe that all responsible volunteer and sustainable development operations should focus upon these principles. If you are considering volunteering, these are some of the key considerations you should question, to ensure that your time and money contributes towards positive change.


 


We want to constantly develop our own understanding of ethical best practice. In so doing, we aim to provide an exemplary industry standard for other education institutions, international development organisations, and social enterprises. Our Badge of Ethics stands for the drive to always do good, better. Find out more, click on the Badge below.


 

Our 10 Ethical Commitments

 

Locally Driven, Collaborative Projects

We aim to design all our projects in collaboration with local organizations and communities and ensure that they are locally driven.


 

Clear Objectives & Sustainable Outcomes

We aim to clearly define short-, mid-, and long-term objectives with sustainable outcomes for all our projects.


 

Impact Reporting

We aim to track, record, and publish the impact of each of our projects.


 

Working Against Dependency

We aim to build in-country capacity by assisting local organizations in becoming self-sustaining.


 

Responsible Exit Strategies

For each local organization we work with, we aim to have a plan in place for withdrawing support responsibly.


 

Clear Roles & Specialized Training

We aim to ensure that ever participant is assigned a clear role and that they are fully trained and supported to carry out their work by specialized staff.


 

Respect for all

In all our actions we aim to respect the skills and efforts of all and seek to protect the rights, culture and dignity of everyone who engages with GVI.


 

Local Ownership

We work to ensure that credit for the results of any project, along with any data collected, research conducted, or Intellectual Property developed, remains the property of local organizations.


 

Transitioning from the Orphanage Model

We do not condone and aim to withdraw support of orphanages and residential care centers.


 

Child and Vulnerable adult policies

We will live by our Child Protection and Vulnerable Adult policies.


Continual Development

As an organization, GVI is committed to striving toward best practice, and to educating both our potential participants, our partners, and the world at large about them. Both the volunteering and sustainable development sectors are increasingly, and rightly, under scrutiny. Many recent local and global articles highlight poor practices and questionable ethics. GVI is widely recognized for striving to apply global best practice in the volunteering, education and sustainable development sectors throughout our operations by reputable organizations such as ChildSafe.


However, global best practice is always evolving and we dedicate both time and resources to engage with internationally respected experts and learn from the latest research to ensure our programs both fulfil their potential to create maximum positive impact, and minimise their potential to create unintentional negative impact. Along with and as part of the sustainable development and volunteering community, we are constantly learning and applying this learning to practice. We do not always get everything right, but we seek feedback from our community members, partners, participants and our staff, and react accordingly. We know are already doing a great job, and feedback we have received confirms this, but we aim to do even better and are continuously refining our operations to improve upon our already excellent reputation.


Parent Info

‘If only every student could do this. It changes your life in all the right ways,’ says Chris Heritage, parent of Luke Heritage, one of our teen volunteers who has participated on two GVI programs, one in Costa Rica and another in South Africa.

We are a parent-run organisation that is incredibly serious about health and safety, and increasing the impact, as well as the long-term career benefits of our programs. Our programs help young people develop the skills to select a career path that is personally fulfilling, and live a life aligned to the well-being of our planet and the global community.

Ken and Linda Jeffrey, whose son Sam volunteered with GVI in Thailand, talk about how the experience affected Sam. He also went on to volunteer with GVI again in South Africa. ‘I know it sounds like a cliche but in a sense, he did go away as a boy and he came back as a young man. Both of us could recommend GVI without any hesitation to any other parent thinking about exploring an opportunity for their children to explore the world and to see different parts of it.’

Parent Info Pack

Download the Parent Pack and learn more about:

Our staff: All our projects are run by staff, selected, vetted, trained, and managed by our central office.
Health and safety: Our safety practices include a child and vulnerable adult protection policy and high participant ratios.
Staying in touch: See what’s happening on base, by following a hub’s dedicated Facebook page.
Free parent consultations: We would love to talk to you about exciting opportunities available for your child.

Support & Safety

We won’t sugarcoat it — traveling abroad is usually a complex process that carries an element of risk. But this is exactly why we’re passionate about providing extensive support throughout the process as well as the highest safety standards during the in-country phase. We believe that volunteering abroad should not only be impactful, but an enjoyable experience that carries as little risk as possible. This is exactly how we’ve been able to maintain our reputation as the most highly respected volunteering organisations in the sector over the past two decades.


Support

Once a participant books, they will be assigned a personal support coordinator who will oversee their pre-departure journey. The support coordinator helps to bridge the gap between program enrolment and arrival at one of our field bases. Your personal support coordinator will ensure that you are provided with all the necessary information required to apply for visas, background checks, and any other documentation.


Safety

Upon arrival at the airport, participants will be greeted by a GVI staff member. All GVI staff are our own and all our programs around the world are run by our staff. All GVI field staff are background checked, Emergency First Response and safety trained. The minimum staff to participant ratio on GVI’s programs is one to six, although on several bases we have a ratio of one to three. When finishing the experience, participants will provide feedback on all aspects of their program.


Health & Safety Case Studies

19 Nov

HOW GVI UPHOLDS HEALTH AND SAFETY

It takes courage to book a GVI program, get on a flight, and head off to somewhere new. Volunteering offers a level of cultural immersion that typical backpacking or holidays just can’t achieve. This is why thousands of people around the world participate in paid GVI programs.


1 Nov

GVI’S COMMITMENT TO SAFETY AND SECURITY

As the saying goes: ‘Expect the best, plan for the worst’. Cliched or not, we take it to heart. This tenet is at the core of how GVI operates when it comes to promoting the health and safety of our participants, staff, and local community members at all of our 20+ bases around the world.


6 Nov

HOW GVI REMAINS PREPARED FOR NATURAL DISASTERS

The weather isn’t just a topic for polite small-talk here at GVI. We have emergency action plans in place for all scenarios. So when the weather, or other natural forces, takes a nasty turn, we are prepared to respond to stormy situations.


5 Nov

HOW GVI MANAGES PARTICIPANTS EXPECTATIONS

Once GVI has matched a participant to a program that suits their passions and goals, our team aims to set the right expectations for them. In the event that false expectations around a program are created, the GVI team takes immediate action to ensure that the situation rectified.


What's Included

  • 24-hour emergency phone
  • 24-hour in-country support
  • 2x sets of uniforms
  • Access to Alumni Services and Discounts
  • Airport pick-up (unless otherwise stated)
  • All compulsory books (if included)
  • All necessary project equipment and materials
  • All necessary project training by experienced staff
  • Birding specialist course
  • CATHSSETA (The Culture, Art, Tourism, Hospitality and Sports Sector, Education and Training Authority) National Qualification (Level 2) in Nature Guiding
  • Cybertracker track & sign qualification
  • Dangerous game experience
  • Ethical guiding principles
  • FGASA (Field Guides Association of Southern Africa) national certificate - Level 1 - practical and theory
  • FGASA Level 2 knowledge
  • Limited internet access at no extra cost
  • Location orientation
  • Long term experienced staff
  • Meals while on project (except on work placements for long term internships)
  • National LEVEL 2 First Aid Certificate
  • National level 3, 4 x 4 driving qualification
  • Other activities, such as sleep outs, Kruger trips, etc.
  • Reptile orientation course
  • SASSETA (Rifle handling, proficiency, maintaining of firearms and shooting)
  • Safe and basic accommodations (usually shared)
  • T-shirt, fleece jacket, cap and beanie
  • Transfer from Oliver Tambo International airport (if required)
  • Welcome meeting
  • Wildlife photography workshop

What's Not Included

  • Additional drinks and gratuities
  • Extra local excursions
  • Flights
  • Food during the placement portion of your internship
  • International and domestic airport taxes
  • Laundry, food and transport during weeks off
  • Medical and travel insurance
  • Personal items and toiletries
  • Personal kit
  • Police or background check
  • Police or background check (where necessary)
  • Recommended reference books
  • Transport costs to placement
  • Visa costs
  • Visa costs (where necessary)