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88 Day
Back-up trails Guide Course


This course aims to combine the level 1 course with the theory aspect of the back-up Trails Guide qualification included. Over and above the standard 88 days course this slightly longer course will also include a 4×4 training module, a week long Cybertracker module.

this is how we work

This course is currently awaiting endorsement by FGASA which is why the first course date is only set for the end of May 2016. This course aims to combine the level 1 course with the theory aspect of the back-up Trails Guide qualification included. Over and above the standard 88 days course this slightly longer course will also include a 4×4 training module, a week long Cybertracker module, Advanced Rifle handling and Trails Guide theory sufficient for the back-up guide.

Our records show that students have had an extremely high pass rate when it comes down to the FGASA exams. Antares puts this down to the fact that students leave the centre having retained most of the knowledge they learnt, and more importantly, that they have begun an affinity with the bush which can only be nurtured by spending time in the bush. Many students have also gone on to pass their level 2 exams once they have found employment in the industry. More and more we see adverts from lodges requesting guides to have the Trails Guide qualification and so this becomes a good reason for choosing this course over any others.

The course also includes a Level 1&2 Wilderness First Aid course. The 1st Aid module is outsourced to a professional registered company. If students are successful in this module they will receive a valid and recognised certificate, recognised internationally. A 1st Aid certificate is one of the membership requirements of FGASA as well as for National registration as a Field Guide with DEAT. Even if students have existing 1st Aid certificates, this is a subject that requires continual practice. Antares feels that students can only benefit from the inclusion of this module into the course itinerary.

Other special features associated with this longer course are a 4×4 training module which will be conducted at a different venue in the very first week of the course. Students will be required to pass this course before they can drive any of our vehicles. Should they not meet these criteria then they will be required to make their own arrangements with the training provider to complete additional assessments.

There will also be a week-long Cybertracker programme where students will be taught the art and skill of interpretation of the tracks and signs found in the bush on their daily activities. Identifying the tracks of lion and elephant may sound easy

but what about those from a solifuge running across the ground or the different species of bird that we may also encounter. All this information adds to an exciting experience for your future guests. At the end of the week the students will be assessed and potentially earn an additional qualification.

As part of the Trails Guide qualification, students are required to prove competency in the firearm handling skills and as such they will be trained and assessed in rifle handling, either basic or advanced depending on the individual abilities. All students will be required to attain rifle handling competency levels prior to handling any firearms.

It is highly recommended that local students try and attain this before attending the course. Foreign students will be required to undergo this test during the course, and any locals that have not achieved this status beforehand will also have the opportunity to do so.

There is a minimum age limit of 18 and students should preferably have completed their schooling to at least Matric or the equivalent. Students must also be competent and in possession of a current valid driving licence. All teaching is done in English so a sound understanding of the English language is recommended.

There is a spacious lounge area with open plan kitchen and adjacent dining area, or they can enjoy lunch by the pool and watch the game coming down to drink at the waterhole.

In the evenings there are also braai facilities and an open fire area where students can absorb the night sounds of the bush. There is a small swimming pool where the students can relax at the end of the day. The lecture room is fully equipped, spacious and air-conditioned. Antares is situated in the Grietjie section of the Balule Nature Reserve, 30kms from the Kruger National Park and Phalaborwa. Antares has traversing access to almost 3000 Ha of game reserve. Regular sightings of elephant and buffalo can be expected at the small waterhole in front of the centre and along the Olifants river. Other regular visitors such as giraffe, zebra, warthog, kudu as well as various nocturnal animals, such as lion and hyena and the rare leopard, can also be seen.

Most of the training is done on foot and the daily programme starts with a 2 to 3-hour walk or drive on the reserve before breakfast. Students must realise at this stage that work as a field guide requires physically fit people, this would equate to being able to walk for 5-6 kms in demanding conditions on occasions or being able to climb trees in the event of any emergency. After the morning activity, training is generally done in the classroom. Students are encouraged to read up on various subjects and will be expected to give presentations on specific topics at certain times. Students will also spend one night during the course sleeping under the stars on the reserve, where they get the opportunity to keep watch while fellow students try to get some sleep. The area is not fenced and there is always the potential for elephants, lions and other animals to pay a visit to the campsite during the night.

Students are advised that we are in a malaria area and that it is recommended that the relevant precautions be taken. Contact your local doctor for advice on this.

Although there is an extensive reference library available to students, it is recommended that students should bring their own books, particularly field guides on mammals, birds and trees, if possible. Students are also recommended to bring binoculars, cameras,a good torch, neutral-coloured clothing and good walking shoes and your own swimming towels. The Centre is fully electrified and a free laundry service is provided, although students will be expected to iron their own personal clothing.

Although Antares makes no guarantees about students finding employment after the course we will make available at the end of each course a list of possible contacts within the industry which will aid students in their search for employment in the future. We have a good rapport with many of the lodges and our students have found work at the following lodges amongst many others: Thornybush Game Lodge, Shumbalala Lodge, Lion Sands Game Lodge, Singita, Sediba Game Lodge (Welgevonden Reserve), Umlani Game Lodge, Welcome Tours, Letaka Safaris (Botswana), Elsa’s Kopjie (Kenya), Umsuluzi Game Reserve, Finfoot Lodge, Tanda Tula Game Lodge and Sefapane lodge. We also pass on information to students about various employment and recruitment agencies, two fo which are listed below. Antares runs its business solely as a training provider and is not a placement agency at all.

Rates and booking policies can be viewed on the rates page

Students will be required to complete an Indemnity form and a Code of Conduct form on arrival at the centre. Antares abides by the rules determined by FGASA and any students found to be in breach of any rules and regulations, or conducts themselves in any way which is deemed to be to the detriment of other students, will face a disciplinary hearing which may result in the student being asked to leave the course.

If you are interested in applying for the course, please fill out the Trails Guide Booking Form