Nature Tourism

Biome Guiding – National

The Nature Guiding qualifications on NQF2/NQF4 and Advanced Nature Guiding levels, are only generic qualifications, which allows you to guide only in a secluded nature environment, like a game reserve or a wilderness area.

Guides with only the generic nature guiding qualification, are based in safari lodges in private game reserves, for instance next to Kruger Park, and they often would take their guests on game drives also inside the Kruger National Park. 

You do however, find guides with only this generic qualification, driving long distances from for instance Johannesburg, stopping also at cultural destinations, en-route for a stay-over tour inside the Kruger National Park à this activity is actually illegal, as this guide is not culturally qualified, and he/she is not qualified to guide on public roads in a biome for which he/she is not qualified.

There are 9 different biomes identified in South Africa:

1.       Albany Thicket Biome

2.       Desert Biome

3.       Forest Biome

4.       Fynbos Biome

5.       Grassland Biome

6.       Indian Ocean Coastal Belt Biome (IOCB Biome)

7.       Nama Karoo Biome

8.       Savannah Biome

9.       Succulent Karoo Biome

None of these biomes are bounded by our provincial boundaries.

Once a nature guide, with the generic nature guiding qualification, has qualified for instance as a Biome Guide for the Succulent Karoo Biome, he/she can guide and drive on public roads throughout, but exclusively inside  this biome - which is found across provincial boundaries in the Western Cape, Northern Cape and the Eastern Cape.

Many guides are knowingly or unknowingly, bending the rules/ challenge the law, by guiding tours in areas for which they are not qualified. For example:

You are a guide, qualified with Nature Guiding (NQF4), as well as a Biome Guide, qualified for the Succulent Karoo Biome, in which the beautiful Namaqualand flowers can be viewed. You drive with a group of flower loving tourists, and they see a waterfall and some beautiful, flowering Proteas (Fynbos Biome)on a mountain side. They ask you to stop. Now you have a dilemma:

·         You are a law-abiding tour guide, and you tell them you cannot guide here, as it is Fynbos Biome, for which you are not qualified, but they can get out and walk around at their own risk, while you will stay at the bus.

·         Or you get out, and take the guests around, knowingly or unknowingly illegal. The one guest  slips at the top of the waterfall, and falls 15 meters and  breaks her back and is paralyzed for life.

Ø  Company A, for which you are contracted to guide this tour, is sued by the paralyzed guest. The insurance company of Company A, realized you as the guide, were not qualified as a Fynbos Biome Guide, where the accident happened, and refuse to pay out any claims.   

èHuge legal implications!

We are aware of training institutions taking shortcut by offering the Biome Guide qualification with  just the absolutely minimum information, crammed into 2-3 pages per biome, which in our opinion, falls way short of what is required from you to be a Biome Guide, as the tourists would expect you to be.

See this from the guest’s perspective:

·         You are a tourist, who are paying a lot of money and dreaming for years to come and see the beautiful Namaqualand in the flowering season. Your group is met by a friendly tour guide, who is a fantastic host, and driven to Namaqualand on a 10 day tour.  You have been assured, he is a fully qualified Succulent Karoo Biome Guide, and you expect him to be a real source of information.

·         What is actually reflected very early during your ‘ dream tour’, is that your guide did his qualification on the shortcut way (which was the easiest and cheapest way to become ‘ legal’), by studying the 2-3 pages of this biome given to him, of which only 2 or 3 paragraphs contain something regarding Namaqualand.

è You will be very unhappy, and the wheels have come off for this guide, making him  feel completely “undressed” for the situation.

To avoid such events, we focus on qualifying our learners for all 9 biomes and to equip them as much as possible. This is the ONLY way, where you could legally guide and with confidence, EVERYWHERE in South Africa.

Once you are qualified for all 9 biomes, you are then a Nature Guide with a National qualification, and you can therefore guide to all nature destinations throughout South Africa without any limit, shouldn’t you have any culture guiding qualification.

We assist our guides, to do proper research, write exams, and to do assignments for each biome, focusing on:

  1. The geographical limits of the biome.
  2. Indicate the major vegetation types, and list the vegetation types found under each major type.
  3. List indicator plants, mammals and birds for the biome – (during the practical tour, we focus on identifying some of the indicator plant species, as well as the mammal and bird species).
  4. Different plant adaptations .
  5. Different behavioural adaptations with animals.
  6. Typical catenas in your landscape.
  7. Description of the geological history of the biome.
  8. The climate of the biome.
  9. List the major conservation areas in the biome. 
  10. The major conservation threats to the biome, with suggested remedial action for each.