7 WEEK BACK UP TRAILS GUIDE
The Trails Guide qualification is designed for you the guide who is exceptionally tuned into nature with above average alertness in the bush. Being a Trails Guide who conducts walking safaris must not be taken lightly. It is important that you understand the level of maturity and responsibility that comes with the job title. Dealing with upset dangerous African animals, being responsible for an inexperienced group of people is not for the faint-hearted.
This course emphasizes the importance of being able to avoid these dangerous animals and in the event of having to deal with an upset animal, how to deal with these situations.
Week 1:: PFTC Use of a Rifle
The PFTC week focuses on achieving three unit standards which will enable the learner to competently use a rifle for business purposes in the eco-tourism industry. The three unit standards are:
- Use of a Rifle
- Use of a Rifle for business purposes
- The Fire Arms Control Act
The PFTC week will comprise of:
- A day of rifle practise
- Two days of workbook time
- A day of lectures covering the three unit standards
- A day of theoretical examinations and practical shooting evaluations
- PFTC – Professional Fire Arm Trainers Council (previously SASSETA)
Week 2 :: Advanced Rifle Handling
The Advanced Rifle Handling week focuses on the FGASA Trails Guide Rifle Handling qualification and general rifle proficiency.
The week consists of the following:
- A day’s in-depth lecture covering the mechanics of a bolt action rifle, how the ammunition works, safe rifle handling and the Fire Arms Control Act
- Three days of coaching and practical training on the assessment exercises
- A day consisting of a theoretical examination plus the practical assessment of the exercises and rifle competency.
Week 3 – 6 :: Walking Experience (Logging hours)
The four-week Trails Guide section of the course focuses on gaining experience on foot in areas where dangerous animals occur and to conduct practical assessments to declare learner’s competent for assisting Lead Trails Guides as the Back-up Trails Guide on walking safaris.
The majority of each day will be spent on foot in an area where dangerous animals occur under the supervision of an experienced and qualified facilitator. Each sighting of a dangerous animal will be evaluated to establish whether it is necessary to approach the animal any closer and if so to discuss the safest options to approach the animal.
The idea behind approaching any dangerous animal is to do so in the safest manner possible, to stay undetected, to observe natural animal behaviour and to become one with nature. The idea is NOT to get as close as possible, putting the animal and people in danger, but to appreciate being in the same space as these animals and to avoid these dangerous animals at all costs. We feel to experience these wonders of Africa is a privilege not to be taken for granted.
Learners will be coached every step of the way to ensure that every day is a learning experience and every decision is discussed with the entire group before decisions are made in order to ensure everyone’s development and involvement.
All approaches will be logged in the learner’s Trails Guide log book to serve as experience gained for evidence towards the full Trails Guide qualification.
Most of the guided experiences will take place on foot and therefore learners must make sure that they are ready to walk for approximately 8 hours a day. Many of the evenings will be spent sleeping under the stars wherever the day ends and the learners must also be well prepared for this.
The entire practical assessment will be practical and outcome based. Ongoing assessments will take place during the entire four weeks to evaluate individual development, decision making, safety, and confidence.
An Important Subject covered during these walking weeks – Dangerous Animals
The Dangerous Animals subject focuses on researching and gaining valuable practical experience with the dangerous mammals of Africa. The Dangerous Animals which will be covered in this section in detail includes:
- White Rhinos
- Black Rhinos
- Spotted Hyena
Other Dangerous animals such as snakes, fish, scorpions, spiders, and insects will be covered during those specific sections in the level 1 & 2 theory sections.
The subject will consist of a balanced program incorporating lecture sessions, workbook time, research papers and practical excursions. The subject aims at giving the learner more in-depth knowledge and understanding of these dangerous animals and to gain experience and confidence in working in an environment where these animals occur. The week will conclude with a theoretical exam.
Week 6:: Tracking Skills
The Tracking Skills week focuses on an introduction to the ancient art of tracking animals in the wild.
The week aims at broadening the understanding of the environment and enhancing the interpretive experience of clients on a guided experience by learning how to identify and interpret tracks, faeces, markings, feeding signs and other incidental clues left behind by the animals in that area.
Animals that will be researched during the week will include mammals, birds, insects, and reptiles. An independent Level 3 Tracker will assist in the coaching and assessment of the week.
The program of the week will be structured and balanced to ensure sufficient time is incorporated for:
- practical excursions
- researching workbooks
- study time
- theoretical examination
- practical assessment
Week 7:: Final Assessments
This week will consist of final walking assessments, preparing for the Final FGASA exam. All candidates will have a final opportunity to walk and gain final encounters. If they have not yet been assessed as competent by the assessor this will be the final week to try and achieve the status of Backup Trails or Lead Trails Guide. The final week of this section will be dedicated to formal practical assessments where learners will be made responsible for making decisions and leading the group in a safe, informative and enjoyable manner.
The course will end with the FGASA Trails Guide theoretical examination which includes the following sections: Dangerous Animals, Advanced Rifle Handling and Approaching Animals on Foot.
** There are weekly exams, each weeks modules are covered in these exams, the exam takes place on a Sunday morning. These exams ensure that you are on track to write the national FGASA exam at the end of week 7.
The candidate must have a minimum of a Field Guide Skills Program to qualify for the course.
- Back-up Trails Guide Skills Program
- Relevant PFTC Unit Standards
- Advanced Rifle Handling: Lead Rifle
- Tracking Skills Specialization (Cyber Tracker)
- Trails Guide Exam
- Back-up Trails Guide Assessment
- 5 Weeks Walking Experience
- Accommodation for the duration of the course
- Conservation Fees
- All Meals for the duration of the course
- Uniform Provided
- All FGASA Fees (assessment, exam, subscription, registration, moderation, manuals, workbooks, logbooks, prescribed literature, and certification) for the duration of the course
- Formal and Practical Tuition for all the subjects
- Organising all your FGASA liaison for you
- 08 July – 24 August 2019
- 30 September – 16 November 2019
- 13 January – 29 February 2020
- 6 April – 23 May 2020
- 06 July – 22 August 2020
- 28 September – 14 November 2020
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