he course will follow the syllabus as set out by FGASA, The Field Guides Association of Southern Africa.
The subjects that will be covered are diverse, covering topics such as astronomy, geology, anything to do with fauna and flora and a host of others. Emphasis will be placed on practical guiding techniques as well as theoretical training. Although only endorsed by FGASA to a level 1 standard, the depth of knowledge taught will be between a level 2 and level 3. The students will spend Monday-Friday learning and have the weekends in which to catch up on any extra revision they require or just to unwind and get themselves ready for the week ahead. With the increase in available time to learn about the various subjects, we will concentrate on encouraging debate and discussion about the topics, exposing students more to practical components and accessing additional media to boost knowledge levels.
If you want to pass FGASA Level 1, practical and theoretical, this is the course for you. Ian Owtram is an absolutely excellent teacher with a wealth of bush experience. I would be surprised if you can find a better way of doing it. - Jeff Williams, a former student.
The course also includes a Level 1&2 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.
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. It must be noted a this point that guides need to be at least 21 in order to register with DEAT, however this should not discourage anyone from wanting to achieve their qualifications in advance.
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, including lion, 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 at least 2 nights 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 of which are listed below. Antares runs its business solely as a training provider and is not a placement agency at all.
Students will be required to complete an indemnity form and a Code of Conduct form either on arrival at the centre or if they are under 21 years old they will need to have their parents/guardians complete these on their behalf. In this case the forms can be printed (see Legal Documents) and presented to the trainer on arrival at Antares. 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.