Nature Tourism

Nature Guiding NQF2

The qualification of a nature guide on a NQF2 level, by law, requires to be of a certain minimum standard. Nature Guiding (NQF2) is regarded as a Skills Program or a Site Qualification.

This CATHSSETA qualification consists of two qualifications which are registered with SAQA:

·         Unit Standard 8440 / 8456 – Conduct a Limited Guided Nature Experience

·         Unit Standard 8478 – Create a Guided Experience for Customers

This course is the entry level for all nature guides.


This course is 3 weeks starting on a Monday at 10h00 and ending on the Friday 19 days later.


1.       Amphibia – frogs vs toads, lifecycles, amplexus, calling, nesting, eggs, SA families

2.       Animal Behaviour – instinctive vs learned behaviour, types of learned behaviour, personal survival, social interaction, zones, protection systems, territory vs home ranges, communication, animal groupings

3.       Arthropoda – anatomy, lifecycles, classifications, common insect orders, classes (Insecta, Diplopoda, Chillopoda, Arachnida (spiders, scorpions), ticks) 

4.       Astronomy – introduction, planets, stars, galaxies, constellations, nebulas, moon phases & tides, eclipses, star jumping , meteor showers, geomagnetic field, astronomical seasons, astronomical  units of distance and speed of light, naked eye observations, binocular observations, astronomy telescopes and basic observing skills. We use star maps and find as many constellations as possible for the time of the year.  

5.       Biomes – introduction to the 9 biomes of SA

6.       Birds – characteristics, feathers, feather care, bird orders, vocalization, terrirorial behaviour, mating strategies, breeding, migration, navigation, identification (GISS)

7.       Bites & Stings – snakebite ( general, cytotoxic, neurotoxic, heamotoxic, spitting cobras), scorpion stings, spider bites (black widow, sac spider, violin spider), bee stings, wasp stings

8.       Botany – 4 divisions of Kingdom Plantae, plant morphology, plant processes, pollination, galls, plant identification (flowers, fruits & seeds, unique growth forms, leaf design & arrangements & shapes, fungi, grasses (morphology, importance, ecological status, veld condition), veld dynamics (sour vs sweet veld, plant succession, fire, veldtypes)

9.       Bushcraft – learn to observe, become more aware of things like wind directionsmells, learn to move silently, using a combination of wind and sun to move as undetected as possible, use the sun and variations of landscape to navigate during daytime, the stars and moon at night, do various exercises to rediscover & develop your senses optimally. During this phase we will assist you to slow down, sit down, and learn to connect to and observe nature in a different way, almost like a young child and help you clear your mind from mental blocks that prevent you  from “connecting” to nature.

10.   Climatology & Weather – weather vs climate, seasons, the atmosphere, elements of climate, factors influencing horizontal temperature differences, atmospheric pressure, cloud formation, types of clouds, air stability, temperature inversion, thunderstorms & lightning, fronts, SA winter weather, SA summer weather

11.   Conservation – levels of conservation, principles, introduction (SANParks, Provincial Reserves. Transfrontier Parks, Biosphere Reserves), nature guiding and conservation

12.   Dangerous Animals – how to react to different members of the Big 5 and other dangerous game

13.   Ecology – ecosystems, energyflow, bio-energitics, nutrient cycles, biogeochemical cycles, cysles (water, carbon, nitrogen, sulphur, phosphorous), ecological , laws, natural selection, types of symbiosis, biological control, galls, coastal ecology (sandy shores, rocky shores)  

14.   Geology – structure of earth, minerals, rock groups, weathering & erosion, local geology, dykes & sils

15.   Guiding as a Career

16.   Guiding Skills – client safety, objectives, plan guided experience, responsibilities of 1st rifle and 2nd rifle, qualities of the guide, information management, pre-trail briefing & preparation, communication & interpretation, group control, break accident chain

17.   Heritage Guiding – SAHRA, Prehistoric Periods (ESA, MSA, LSA, Iron Age), rock art & etchings

18.   Mammalia – general features, senses, digestive systems, echolocation, foot design, torpor, SA mammal orders

19.   Osteichthyes – characteristics, ecological role, anatomy, feeding habits, reproduction, movement, boyancy

20.   Reptilia – characteristics, breeding and classification of (Chelonians, Crocodilia, Squamata)

21.   Survival – priorities of survival, introduction (navigation, finding water, plant food and protein), making fire with fire-sticks

22.   Taxonomy – purpose, origin, hierarchy, binomial system

23.   Vehicles – petrol engines, diesel engines, daily maintenance checks, trouble shooting, vehicle care, driving skills (sand, mud, water), game drive vehicles

We have always focused to prepare and qualify our learners on a much higher level, than is required – for very specific reasons:

·         Over the 28 years we have guided tourists in African nature, we have regularly guided really well-informed guests (scientists, biologists, well-travelled amateurs, etc.) which made us realize you need to qualify on a higher level than what is required from us.  

·         We are offering nature guiding training on 3 levels, of which each level is offered on a higher level than offered by any other nature tourism institution in South Africa. Once you have qualified on level 3 (Advanced Nature Guiding), you will be absolutely in a different league from any other nature guide / field guide qualified by other training institutions.

·         We aim to differentiate between guides qualified from our training, and those of other training institutions. Quality guides will always prevail!

·         Giving our guides a very strong information base, based on what we feel is required, will instil a confidence in our guides - that will make a huge impression of guests.

·         We focus a lot on the quality of our practical sessions -the better informed a learner is in terms of embedded knowledge, the easier it is to maintain a high quality practical session.  

It is important to note that this qualification is a generic qualification, which only allows you to guide within a specific nature environment, like a game reserve or the Kruger Park. You are not allowed to guide throughout a province or nationally.

In order to guide provincially or nationally, you need to be qualified, in addition to this qualification, as a BIOME GUIDE (see 9 BIOMES).

You are also not allowed to do ANY culture guiding with this qualification, as it serves as a complementary qualification to Culture Guiding (NQF4).