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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 province 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!
WWho to contact
Contact the local tourism information office in your area for a list of registered tour guides. These guides can be identified by their accreditation badge. Alternatively, at specific sites or attractions, contact the visitors’ information office for a guide accredited to take you around that specific site.