Game Ranger course in South Africa
Take your first steps on the path to working with wildlife in Africa with this well-regarded game ranger course. Live the life of a trainee game ranger on a lush reserve, home to Africa’s Big 5. Your course will combine both practical work out on the reserve, as well as the fascinating theory behind it.
Step off the beaten track and into the heart of an African wilderness, where you will train up to be a field guide on this purpose-built course. Get to know the animals, how to track and monitor them, and even how to predict where they might be located depending on the weather and seasons.
The 8 week long game ranger course is designed to give you the theoretical and practical training needed to become a qualified field guide. The course takes place on a large and very green private game reserve (the size of 8400 football pitches!), home to Africa’s Big 5 as well as many other species. It introduces you to the life of a game ranger, the animals on the reserve and the background knowledge that is key to gaining your recognised qualification. This means that, as well as gaining hands-on experience working out on the reserve, you will also be learning about geology and astronomy, weather and climate, animal identification and behaviour and conservation management.
How does it work?
The game ranger course is an 8 week long course that runs at various intervals in the year. See here for the most up to date departure information. The end goal is the FGASA (Field Guide Association South Africa) level 1 qualification, which would allow you to work as a field guide across Africa.
The first few weeks of the course focus on the general aspects of working in a game reserve. You will team up with the participants on the Big 5 project to gain exposure to the wildlife and to learn and understand the basics of life on a reserve. Please remember that this is a dynamic environment where things change quickly, and where tasks are demand-driven. You may become involved in tasks such as:
- lion tracking and monitoring
- removal of alien vegetation in and around the reserve
- planting of natural species
- helping out with the predator breeding programme
- wilderness trail walks and patrols
- fence patrol
- game counts
- game captures
- game drives
In addition, you will receive regular lectures and training in preparation for the examination at the end of the 8 week course. This includes:
- practical and theoretical training required to become a qualified field guide
- insight into geology and astronomy
- knowledge of weather and climate
- learning about basic ecology
- animal identification and management
- First Aid level 1
A written exam will be completed at the end for your FGASA (Field Guide Association South Africa) level 1 qualification. This is recognised across Africa. See here for more information about the FGASA level 1.
Your programme will keep you busy at the reserve from Monday to Friday, with weekends free for study, relaxation and exploring. At the weekend many participants choose to head in to Port Elizabeth to enjoy the sea, surf and sand, as well as to use it as a base from which to explore the area. Accommodation is provided whilst in Port Elizabeth for no extra charge, although you will need to budget for food. Alternatively, you are more than welcome to remain at the reserve to enjoy the fantastic facilities there and simply relax. Don’t forget that you will be working towards an exam and qualification, so you will need to dedicate free time to learning and revision too.
Accommodation and Food
Your accommodation is on site, right at the heart of the reserve, so your day starts with beautiful views out over the prairie. The accommodation is probably amongst the most luxurious that Oyster offers. It has large comfortable dormitory-style rooms to be shared with others. There are large lounges and outdoor areas to relax, so you will likely find that your bed is just a place to lay your head at the end of the day.
There is internet access at the main lodge. Swimming pools, tennis courts and other leisure facilities are all at your disposal, so there isn’t a moment to get bored here.
We provide you with three delicious meals a day, so you don’t even need to worry about cooking. The food is varied, with an African/ Asian feel to it. However, there are plenty of western options too.
When should I book?
Whilst late-availability is possible, we would advise booking as soon as you can to guarantee your ideal dates. Our projects are very popular and spaces can fill up several months in advance, especially for the months of June to September.
Want to go travelling afterwards?
We can arrange a week-long Garden Route tour after some of the sports coaching sessions. Follow the link to find out more about the Garden Route Tour.
- Learn how to track a lion (and other animals) as you experience life as a trainee game ranger on a Big 5 game reserve.
- Obtain the well-respected FGASA level 1 qualification which allows you to work as a field guide across Africa.
- Gain the hands-on practical and theoretical training that you need to become a qualified field guide.
- Explore the stunning coastline around Port Elizabeth with its many cafes and bars.
- Enhance your CV or resume with the excellent experience and well-recognised qualification that you gain, putting you in a great position for future job hunting.
Whyshould I do this?
For those of you who have been on a safari before, the answer to this question may well be obvious. When experiencing life on a game reserve you are thrown into a world of exotic beasts and changing environments, and this cannot fail to capture the imagination. Learn all about the seasons, the climate, geology and ecology whilst working closely with some of the most impressive creatures on this earth. After your knowledge has increased significantly you will take the FGASA Level 1 qualification, which will allow you to work as a ranger across Africa.
You will fly in to Port Elizabeth (PLZ) on the Monday of your course beginning. Please make sure your flight arrives before 3pm for the transfer up to the reserve. It’s about an hour’s drive out of Port Elizabeth to reach the reserve.
You will be working closely with the game rangers whilst taking part in this programme. They teach you their craft and get you involved in assisting them on the project, as well as preparing you for the examination. The full-time team who work in the offices to coordinate your programme will also there as a helping hand and can offer great advice on things to do on your weekends.
What is provided
- Before booking: Dedicated period of time on the phone or in person to discuss the project, answer any questions that you might have and find out more about you
- Access to your personal ‘My Oyster’ account – our online portal where you can find out much more about the programme and manage your booking.
- Pre-departure briefing
- Advice on visa requirements
- Help and advice from our UK office before departure and whilst away
- Pre-arranged game ranger course at the game reserve with accommodation.
- Met and greeted warmly at Port Elizabeth airport with scheduled transfer to your accommodation.
- Practical and theoretical training needed for your examination
- Entrance to your FGASA level 1 examination
- First Aid level 1 qualification
- Course materials
- Return to Port Elizabeth at the end of your stay
- Accommodation with bathing facilities, lounge and BBQ.
- Access to outdoor swimming pools, tennis courts and even a cricket pitch
- Internet access at the main lodge
- Excellent food full board.
- Oyster will prepare you thoroughly before you leave and support you while you are out there.
- ATOL financial protection (if Oyster books your flight)
- Transport to Port Elizabeth on a weekly basis. Accommodation there is also included
- Oyster Worldwide volunteer t-shirt
- Oyster luggage tag
On your return:
- Welcome home pack
- Certificate of Recognition (on request)
- References (on request)
What do I need
- Flights to Port Elizabeth, arriving on a Monday before 3pm. Oyster can book your flights
- A passport valid for a minimum of 30 days after your return date
- Insurance covering your project time and any planned independent travel, we can introduce you to a policy
- Cost of changing your return flight date if you need to
- Independent travel costs
- Any additional costs such as trips, snacks, entertainment (allow approximately £20 per week depending on lifestyle)
- Food budget when away from the reserve at weekends (approx £30 – £50)
- All home country travel costs (to airport and interview if face-to-face)
- No visa is necessary for under 90 days from UK and most western European countries