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Nature Guide Career Development Programme (CDP)

Course Overview

The 1 Year Nature Guide Career Development Programme (CDP) Course prepares students for active participation in the Wildlife Tourism industry, by developing competent guides, with well formulated career paths in the various specialist guiding fields. This includes a good knowledge of the environment, communication and interpretative skill, entrepreneurial skill and most importantly, a positive and enthusiastic attitude.

The course has been structured to include the national skills programmes as required by the South African Tourism Act, to be recognized and registered as a legal nature guide. These skills programmes are trained using the syllabus of the Field Guides Association of Southern Africa.

In addition to these skills programmes, we have added components and Practical Guiding Skills that address areas of essential knowledge that is not included in the skills programmes above. This includes various topics such as the Guiding Career Path, Areas of Specialization, General Knowledge for Guides, coping skills for working in lodge and other guiding environments, research and reference skills, correct use of equipment, guest etiquette, discussing controversial conservation topics with guests, vehicle skills and various life skills such as self confidence, leadership and communication.

We focus not only on the mainstream field guiding skills needed for guiding at upmarket lodges on Big 5 reserves, but also introduce you to new emerging niche eco-tourism markets such as Birding, Butterflying and Marine Guiding. Eco-tourists are by definition well educated and always looking for new and authentic experiences. While there are many guides available for the traditional Big 5 guided experience, there is a growing demand for guides with some specialised knowledge that can guide tourists "off the beaten track". We will give you the competitive advantage by providing you with training that can be used to later specialise in your chosen field of interest.

This programme is also a good introduction to our more comprehensive 3 year programme and has a unique phased format to allow students to enter the programme at different skill levels.


  • Foundation Phase (2.5 months)
  • Development Phase (7 months)
  • Advanced Phase (9 months)

Course Fees 2021/2022

  • Phase 1 and 2 R215 000
  • Phase 2 only R160 000
  • Phase 3 only R160 000

Course Dates 2021/2022

  • Phase 1 and 2
    • 3 May 2021 – 22 Feb 2022
    • 27 Sept 2021 – 15 Aug 2022
    • 24 Jan 2022 – 2 Dec 2022
    • 2 May 2022 – 21 Feb 2023
  • Phase 2 and 3 only
    • Please enquire about next intake dates

Included in the Course Fee

  • Meals and Accommodation
  • Professional membership and registrations (FGASA, PADI)
  • All FGASA Study Manuals
  • All gear and equipment used for Dive Training and Firearm Training

Excluded in the Course Fee

  • Meals over weekends and semester breaks
  • Personal equipment such as Binoculars
  • Prescribed reference books
  • Snorkelling equipment and ammunition for re-assessments


Subject to successful completion of all assessments.

  • Bhejane Nature Training Professional Nature Guide Certificate
  • Level 1 Nature Guide
  • Level 1 Marine Guide
  • PADI Open or Advanced Open Water Diver
  • Bhejane Research and Monitoring Assistant Certificate
  • FGASA Back-up Trails Guide
  • FGASA Basic and Advanced Rifle Handling
  • Wilderness and Marine First Aid
  • Birding Specialist (Elective)
  • Boat Based Whale Watching Permit (subject to conditions)
  • Sharklife SA Shark Dive Guiding Certificate (Optional Extra, requires additional course time)

Admission Requirements

  • Minimum age of 18
  • Must be fluent in English
  • Must be able to swim unaided for 100m
  • Good level of physical and mental fitness
  • Drivers licence not required by highly recommended
  • Admission may be subject to an interview.
  • If doing Phase 2 and 3 only, you must already be a FGASA member with Paid up membership.