Guides and interpreters

A guide at the Vredefort Dome World Heritage Site.
A guide at the Vredefort Dome World Heritage Site.

Knowledgeable South African guides and interpreters represent a vital link between visitors and their experience of South Africa and its many tourist attractions.

Because of this, guides in South Africa are required to undergo a process of qualification and registration.

Training is undertaken by a number of institutions accredited by Tourism, Hospitality & Sport Education and Training Authority (THETA), while registration is through the provincial tourism department concerned. Tour guide registration must be renewed every 2 years.

Registered guides are issued with identity cards and badges which must be worn at all times when conducting tours.  They must also adhere to a Code of Conduct and Ethics, and must have a certificate in first aid.

South African guides specialise in various categories including nature (wildlife, wild flower and wetland guiding); culture (heritage sites, rock art and archaeology); and adventure (abseiling, paragliding and river rafting).  Other specialities include sport guiding and professional hunting.

Within these categories guides can qualify at 3 levels - site (for a specific site/attraction only); provincial (for a specific provice only) or national.

Many local guides are also fluent in foreign languages, allowing them to effectively double as interpreters in South Africa. There are a number of tour guide support websites available that allow you to locate registered guides fluent in specific languages, making your South African experience that much better!