Questions and Answers
Some frequently asked questions by students:
Q: If I come on a FGASA course can I do the corresponding BOTA qualification or do I need to be a Citizen or resident to get the qualification?
A: Anybody can register with BOTA and be assessed against the BOTA standards but in order to convert your BOTA qualification to a guides license you will need a valid work and residence permit for Botswana as well as 5 years work-place experience.
Q: If I have my FGASA level 2 can I get recognition of prior learning (RPL) and get the corresponding BOTA level 2 qualification?
A: While there is negotiations with BOTA and FGASA to RPL each other’s qualifications this does not exist yet. Once this has been agreed upon there are still Unit Standards specific to Botswana that need to be completed before you can be given a BOTA qualification.
Q: How do I get to the Okavango to do a guide training course?
A: The best access is through the daily flight from Johannesburg to Maun. Maun also has tarred road access from Johannesburg, Livingstone (Zambia) and Windhoek (Namibia). There are 2 flights a week from Windhoek to Maun.
Q: What is the best time to do a course?
A: Botswana is a year-round destination. Although one can expect some rain from November through April this is also the best time of the year to find many of the smaller animals that guides need to know about. It is also by far the best time for birding in the Okavango as many of the Paleo-Arctic and Intra-African migratory birds are present. Many of our resident birds that winter in their drab plumage erupt into magnificent dress for the summer.
Q: If the access into Botswana is more difficult and expensive than South Africa where there is a panoply of companies and courses, why make the effort?
A: Botswana has always been a connoisseur’s destination. Its reputation as one of Africa’s finest wildlife and wilderness destinations has been won over 40 years of competition with other safari destinations and it continues to be one of the world’s great wilderness areas. The combination between boating on the Okavango, walking on the islands and game-driving through miles and miles of boundless Africa sets Botswana apart.
Q: Can I do a Trails Guide Course with no previous experience or qualification?
A: Yes you can but you cannot get a qualification if you do not have the necessary FGASA or BOTA baseline qualifications and experience. The course is designed for people who want to guide guests on foot and is not a walking safari experience for someone who fancies a doddle through the wilderness.
There is a strong emphasis on shooting skills and in order to qualify to shoot on the range you will need to apply yourself to the disciplines of rifle safety. In order to gain the experience trainees need to log hours on foot as well as a good number of encounters. As such we walk for long distances and so some level dedication and fitness is required. That said the course is also immensely enjoyable and gives the student experiences that are unique to the trails guide course experience.
Q: If I want to come out and do a course because I am interested, but I don’t want to get a guides license at the end what is the best course for me?
A: The Ecology of Northern Botswana is a 2 week course with a fun academic content but not getting into the deeper nitty-gritty that guides need to know but are of little interest to many others. Many people who have travelled many times to Africa do this course to satisfy a growing curiosity and to be able to gain more from the many Africa trips to follow.
Q: What guarantee do I have that if I come to do a Trails Guide course that I will get enough encounters to qualify?
A: Wildlife can never be guaranteed! And even if we find game, often the terrain or some other factor may make a safe approach impossible. We spend as much time on foot as possible to give the student the best chance of getting enough encounters to qualify.
Q: If I want to do the theory course that is based in Maun what are my options for accommodation?
A: The school gets special rates from Okavango River Lodge which is only a short walk from the training facility. For more information please email us for the latest rates.
Q: I hear that the floods of 2010 were the highest since the early 70's. How has this affected the ability to access the various areas of the training concession?
A: It is true that the floods of 2010 were exceptional. However the Delta and it's residents have been through this many thousands of times in the past few million years. Where we have lost access by vehicle we have gained flood-plains that are now accessible to mokoro and aluminium hull boats. The islands are full of wildlife and the delta is spectacular in "full-flood"