Fans of wildlife and conservation are always thrilled to visit the African bush and now you can sign up to do basic training as a game ranger or field guide, either just for fun or part of a career plan.

Did you know?

Around 900 bird species can be found in the Kruger National Park alone.

A visit to the African bush may inspire you to want to learn more about it and there are plenty of courses available in South Africa for interested people.

You could just sign up as part of a gap year and get some new skills on board, or do a course just for fun. Alternatively, this might be the first step to a whole new career.

Many people confuse the role of a field guide with that of a game ranger. When you visit a game reserve, the person that takes you around the reserve, pointing out animals, helping with facts, cooking your meal at the end of the day and so on, is your field guide, and not a ranger.

A game ranger is not typically involved in guiding, but is qualified to do all of that. A ranger's job is far more oriented around the management of wildlife areas such as national parks and game reserves. Their duties include activities such as game counting, fence repairs and anti-poaching work. This is the behind-the-scenes work that a ranger does as opposed to the more public work of a guide.

However, in South Africa, you can do a range of courses covering all aspects including lodge management, wildlife management, tracking, fauna and flora studies and many, many more. Courses range in length from two weeks to one year, depending on the level of qualification.

The Field Guide Association of Southern Africa has a comprehensive list of accredited places offering these sorts of courses.

Travel tips & Planning info

Who to contact

Field Guides Association of Southern Africa
Tel: +27 (0)11 886 8245

Best time to visit

The game ranger courses run all year round and in some cases, parts can be done via distance learning

What will it cost

The cost of course varies according to the length and intensity of the subject. Beginner courses start from as little as R400 with prices increasing for the longer courses.

Length of stay

Your length of stay in the bush will depend on the length of the practical section of the course you elect to take

What to pack

Your course will specify all the clothing and equipment that you need to take along in order to complete your studies and coursework.

Where to stay

During the practical aspect of your course, the organisers will also set up accommodation arrangements for you

What to eat

Most courses will be fully catered

What's happening

Check with the course organisers for course starting dates and options