Have you ever dreamed of being a safari guide? Perhaps you’ve imagined living in the bush, but felt lacking in knowledge or skills? Maybe you have craved more from a safari experience than luxury lodge can offer with its sanitised game drives and ‘time-wasting’ sundowners, but didn’t know where to look? Maybe you are constrained by commitments and assumed that learning bush skills would be for the time-rich?
Well, we are incredibly happy to report that we can show you how to become a safari guide in a week. Yes, a week: perfect for those of you with short-holiday woes!
The Okavango Guiding School: How to Become a Safari Guide in a Week!
The Okavango Guiding School in Botswana is where international visitors immerse themselves in the intricacies of bush life and learn valuable skills.
With practical experience including tracking, weapons handling, polling a dug-out canoe, wilderness walks and game driving. The theory component allows students to study geology, astronomy, weather and climate, ecology, plants, invertebrates, frogs, fish, reptiles, birds mammals and more.
If you have concerns about being stuck behind a desk, eliminate them immediately. The training courses are conducted in the Okavango Delta which has been declared a World Heritage site because of its pristine ecosystems, scenic beauty and abundance of wildlife.
Who’s behind this great idea? Grant and Brent Reed of course, better known as the celebrity Safari Brothers of Nat Geo Wild!
How to Become a Safari Guide in a Week: Location
The Okavango Guiding School is located, surprisingly enough, in the Okavango Delta in the north of Botswana. This is an enormous sparkling floodplain which can only be described as Eden.
The Kwapa training camp for the school is situated in the Southern Okavango Delta in a private concession area on the Qwapa River. Kwapa has a combination of river channels, floodplains, lagoons as well as riparian woodland, savannah, mopane scrub, climax mopane woodland and grasslands. There are good numbers of elephant, buffalo, giraffe, zebra, kudu, impala, reedbuck and other herbivores.
Rhinoceros are making a come-back in the Okavango due to some phenomenal conservation programs. Predators include lion, leopard, cheetah, wild dog, serval, caracal, african wildcat, black-backed jackal, side-striped jackal, spotted hyaena and other smaller predators. In short there is pretty much everything the savannah biome has to offer with regards to wildlife.
The area has over 300 species of birds and the list is still growing. Some of the highlight birds are wattled crane, lesser jacana, long-crested eagle, saddlebill stork, green-capped eremomela, greater painted snipe, coppery-tailed coucal, luapula cisticola to mention but a few.
Accommodation is in wilderness tents furnished with camp beds made up with sheets, pillows and a duvet. All tents are en-suite with a toilet and a bucket shower. There is also an exterior veranda with a chair conveniently positioned for reading or having a quiet beer whilst listening to the surrounding wildlife.
How to Become a Safari Guide in a Week: Courses
The Okavango Guiding School was established in 2005 by the Reed family, owners of Letaka Safaris one of Botswana’s premier mobile tented safari companies. The family have generations of experience of guiding in Botswana, founding the school to elevate the standard of guiding in Botswana whilst also offering International visitors unique, memorable and potentially life changing skills and experience.
The seven day Bush Skills course is the most popular with international visitors as a condensed taster of many of the skills required for guiding and is satisfyingly practical. However, there is also the longer Nature Guide course which covers the entire syllabus and practical evaluation to qualify as a guide in Botswana and South Africa. The Trails Guide course teaches skills needed for walking guides in the bush and therefore has a strong emphasis on walking, tracking, survival and weapons handling.
How to Become a Safari Guide in a Week: Pricing
The good news is that although a safari in Botswana is one of the most expensive safari holidays you will find, the courses are very reasonably priced. by At the time of press, the week-long Bush Skills course starts at US$1,650 and includes tented accommodation, all meals at Kwapa Camp, drinking water, tea and coffee, all training and activities, and they’ve even thrown in a scheduled return transfer from Maun to Kwapa Camp.
The school will most likely appeal to curious and active people with a passion for nature. You may think that this course appeals to predominantly men, but perhaps surprisingly, on the average course there is usually a 25% female turnout. If you have a desire to gain a deeper insight into the fascinating local ecology or a desire to learn ancient skills many cultures have long forgotten, this is for you!
So, whether it be part of a gap year, a well needed break away from the monotony of the office, signing up for a course at the Okavango Guiding school is all about your life feeling a little richer.
And what is incredibly inspiring is that whilst western bush novices get to play out their African dream, for every course that is run, a sponsorship place is created for a deserving local student. These students are handpicked based on their potential to become a great safari guide but with no way of reaching their dream. With some Okavango Guiding School training and a little exposure, these youngsters are able to get a foot in the door.