We do not just want to train guides, we want to train exceptional guides, guides with unparalleled understanding of our planet and her ecosystems, guides that can interpret the magic of a butterfly opening its wings with as much enthusiasm as the magnificence of a herd of elephants crossing a river, guides who can use their time with tourists to spread the conservation message, guides who can become future conservation leaders, guides who can open people's eyes to the power of mother nature and wilderness.

Why Train With Us

  • We go beyond the minimum 50 days training and minimum "core modules" 
  • Our training is designed to draw on the legacy of the great pioneering conservationists Dr Ian Player
  • Our field training and wilderness experiences are arguably some of the most exciting and authentic field training opportunities.
  • With a 60 year track record and a globally recognized organisation, you can be assured of industry recognition and safety at the highest level 
  • Part time or full time options 
  • Some of the most experienced trainers in the business 
  • Our training prepares you for the industry and work in tourism / nature guiding sector 
  • Connections to a global network of wilderness and like-minded sister organisations 
  • Excellent value for money - comparatively speaking, our training costs are extremely competitive.
  • Our course runs over 90 days, almost a month longer than most other courses on offer at similar rates.
  • Small groups - we always have a maximum of 10 people per course. It is advised to apply early to ensure your space.

"I never thought that I'd learn as much as I have in such a short space of time! We had incredible lecturers and guides and our time in the Wilderness was soul enriching. I am so happy that I decided to do this course with The Wilderness Leadership School and I'm both excited and fully prepared to take my next step as a nature guide" ~ Demi Mitchell, April 2017 Graduate

With over sixty years experience and arguably some of the best wilderness guides in the industry, with the Wilderness Leadership School you are assured of training of the highest quality and unrivaled practical guiding experiences, we go way beyond minimum requirements.

Apply here

This course is ideally suited to anyone wishing to enter the lodge or guiding business at a professional level and can be completed part time or full time. The FGASA Level I (NQF II) Guide Training Course Includes:

  • All practical training / field sessions in a Big 5 Game Reserve environment (Tembe Elephant Park & uMfolozi)
  • "Leave No Trace" training / Wilderness Trail experience in the iMfolozi Game Reserve Wilderness Area
  • All lectures / theoretical training, transport, meals and accommodation
  • First Aid Level 1 certificate 
  • Weapons handling competency
  • Leave no trace - International Certification 
  • All assessments and final assessment preparation 
  • All FGASA membership fees and registrations
  • Lectures, subject matter experts and ongoing access to our trainers and staff (post training) via our various alumni platforms

Upon completing this course successfully, you will be allowed to work as a registered guide in most nature reserves around Southern Africa with a recognized high standard of training and field experience. (Please note that you will need to be 21 years or older to get a public driving permit)

Modules which we cover include: (Several of these are in additional to the minimal FGASA requirements - in bold)

  • Creating a guided nature experience
  • Geology
  • Astronomy
  • Weather and Climate
  • Ecology
  • Taxonomy
  • The Biomes of Southern Africa
  • Botany and Grasses
  • Arthropods
  • Amphibians
  • Reptiles
  • Fish
  • Birds
  • Mammals
  • Animal behaviour
  • Conservation Management
  • Historical Human Habitation
  • Marine Snorkel Guide Basics
  • Wilderness Ethics & Leave No Trace Certification 
  • Wilderness Facilitation, Psychology and  Soft Skills 
  • Tracking and advanced bush skills 
  • Weapons Handling 
  • Advanced Cultural Understanding 
  • Guest relations 
  • Career Guidance and Tourism Entrepreneurial Opportunities 
  • Environmental Education Facilitation

Practical Training

Our practical training includes a range of short day outings (for theoretical modules) but also includes a range compulsory longer field outings (for part time and full time students) - this is the really fun, valuable and exciting stuff. Our practical training offers experiences that few people will ever get to have. Including sleeping under the stars in the wilderness, doing night watch duty around the campfire and getting in touch with nature on trail in the same special way Dr. Ian Player designed it over 60 years ago. 

These practicals include: 

  • 5 day wilderness trail experiences in iMfolozi Game Reserve Wilderness Area, including transport and meals from Durban. Possibly one of the most special and unforgettable experiences a guide can have. 
  • 10 Days inception training, a further 14 days field training in Tembe Elephant reserve in Zululand and an additional 10 days assessment preparation & assessments - this is where you learn valuable bush skills, tracking, dealing with big game, and skills for interpreting the environment around you. These practicals include transport, accommodation, and meals
  • Subject matter specialist lectures and day outings, including transport for practical outings 
  • Level 1 First Aid Certificate 
  • Weapons handling competency - (Field and Shooting Range) 

Students must be available for the specified dates for trails and practical training (for non residential / part time students). Please read our training prospects or information on our Wilderness Trails for more information on what to expect and what to bring

Apply here

Dates and Costs

Course costs

  • 2018  (January intake) Full time students R52 000
  • 2018 (January intake) Part time students R37 000
  • International Students R61 000 (for 3 months, full board, airport transfers and induction / cultural immersion) 


Our next intake for full time students is the 15th January 2018 and runs through till the 14th April 2018. Although we do accept registrations at any time providing you are available for practical field training and wilderness trail training dates as detailed. We have a maximum of 10 participants per course, so you are advised to apply early.

We can arrange customised training courses for groups of 5 or more people at any date.

Download Course Prospectus Here

Apply here



Nils Kure

Nils is our principal trainer. Responsible for course oversight, assessments and specific lectures. Nils focuses on the academic (FGASA) content of the course and legal requirements for the course.

  • BSc. Zoology
  • Higher Diploma in Education (Biology and General Science)
  • FGASA Specialist Guide
  • Lead Trails Guide
  • FGASA Assessor
  • FGASA Moderator
  • ARH Assessor
  • 10 years guiding experience (Mala Mala) 15 years thereof as Senior Ranger
  • Head of Ranger Training Mala Mala Manager
  • 4 years experience training and assessing  FGASA courses

Hendrik Fehsenfeld

Hendrik is our assistant Head Trainer. Responsible for all lectures and practical training. In his position as Training and Operation for the Wilderness Leadership School, Hendrik heads up the Training Provider responsibilities in terms of course and student management.

  • BSc. Ecology
  • Diploma in Nature Conservation
  • Game Ranger and Lodge Management for & Beyond (Phinda)
  • FGASA Advanced Guide (L2)
  • FGASA Specialist Guide&Beyond  - 6 years

Duncan Pritchard

Duncan is an assistant lecturer/subject Matter expert and also Program Development Manager for the Wilderness Leadership School. Duncan’s role is focused around birds and birding and the marine experience of the course.

  • BA Geography and Development Studies
  • FGASA Advanced Field Guide
  • ETDP Assessor
  • Guide in Botswana, Okavango, 4 years Guide in Namibia, Mahango Game Reserve,
  • Specialist birding guide, Lawsons and Birdquest as well as other freelance guiding
  • Oversaw training, lectured and assessment of BirdLIfe SA's Bird site Guide Training Courses in Wakkerstroom over period of 5 years.
  • Conducted 20+ bird guide assessments  and on site training and mentorship of 20+ site guides for BLSA

Edward Rice

Edward is one of our subject matter experts, responsible for some lectures focused on ecology and wildlifee management.

  • BSc. Hons.  Ecological Science
  • MSc. Conservation Biology
  • Environmental Consultant

Andre Steenkamp

Andre is a subject Matter Expert. Responsible for some lectures and for knowledge specifics, especially Arthropods, on Nature Walks at Kenneth Stainbank Reserve

  • FGASA Field Guide (exam, no practical assessment)
  • NQF2 Nature Guide (Cathsseta)
  • Registered for FGASA Advanced Field Guide.Environmental Educators Course (UNISA)
  • Environmental Educators Course focusing on Interpretation (WESSA, non-accredited)
  • WESSA KZN. Guiding, guide training and community projects.
  • Birdlife South Africa. Centre manager (hospitality, maintenance and housekeeping), guiding, guide training, community projects.

Currently doing freelance guiding, guide training and consulting environmental educator.

Rob Humphries

Rob is our Field co-ordinator and practical training coordinator for practical sessions in Zululand.

  • FGASA Field Guide
  • FGASA Trails Guide – exam passed, not yet practically assessed. Over 500 hours logged and over 85 encounters.
  • Assistant Back-up WLS Trails
  • Field assistant WLS FGASA course training and assessments.

Wilderness Leadership School Trails Guides

Every course has its own identity and this one naturally falls within the established Wilderness Leadership School’s ethos and long history. As part of that aspect,  the students go on a 5 day Wilderness Trail as part of the course. This trail has an emphasis on the Wilderness experience, tracking, bush skills and leave not trace training. The Wilderness Leadership School guides who lead the trails are sources of considerable knowledge and experience. Our trails guides play an active role in your training from morning walks the the trail experience to general mentorship and support.

Enquire / Apply Now

  • Tel

    +27 (0)31 462 8642 or +27 (0) 83 2255960

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