FGASA’s Culture Guide courses.

“A nation’s culture resides in the hearts and in the soul of its people.” Mahatma Gandhi.




With September being celebrated as Heritage and Cultural month, FGASA promoted the  Cultural Guide Course (NQF4) that they offer. If YOU are thinking of becoming a provincial cultural guide, then might I suggest that you consider doing the provincial specific courses through FGASA? The courses are recognized by the relevant authorities and that will give you a qualification that you can produce, with pride, for your guests. I got to interview Grant, David and Brian for FGASA.



Grant Hine


DB: Grant, tell me about yourself and your involvement with FGASA and the course?

G.H: After completing my MA as a psychologist, I practised for two years before guiding and working at Big 5 game reserves for the next 12 years. I took over the running of FGASA in 2001 and during that time I wrote training manuals, workbooks, assessments.(I was on the board of FGASA and ran the Association for 17 years). As the chairman of the Standards Generating Body for Guiding (SGB) under the South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA), I developed the guiding qualifications for South Africa.

D.B: Are you a course assessor?

G.H: Yes, I am a qualified National guide for both Nature and Culture for all nine provinces and biomes, paleoanthropology, birding, Dangerous Game and marine Guiding and a registered CATHSSETA and FGASA Assessor for both culture and nature guiding.

D.B: It seems that the course offers an Intro to SA as one of the learner manuals? What should learners focus on in this manual?

G.H: The introduction to South Africa module in this course provides a general overview of the Country.  This includes everything from the geography, geology, climate, biomes, natural attractions, historical places of interest, South African demographics and education system. Not forgetting the important economic factors of the country that includes finances, mining, farming, forestry, manufacturing and trade with other countries. It is a broad overview of interesting facts that visiting tourists may ask a local guide.

D.B: Which provinces does the course cover?

G.H: The course covers all nine provinces, but the learner starts with one province and once completed the full Certificate based on one Province, then s/he can add Provinces by completing required Province-Specific workbooks.

D.B: What are the highlights of Western Cape? 

G.H: In terms of tourism, the Western Cape is diverse and includes a number of regions.

Highlights in and around Cape Town include the BoKaap Museum, the Castle of Good Hope, the District Six Museum, Robben Island, Table Mountain, Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden and Cape Point.

For those that a prepared to brave the cold Atlantic waters, shark diving and visits to Seal Island are on offer.

A drive along the internationally famous Garden Route will enable tourists to the Province to enjoy a visit to the Knysna forest, the Tsitsikamma National Park or for the more adventurous, bungee-jumping at the Bloukrans River Bridge and the Gourits River Gorge.

Travellers to the West Coast will discover the wildflowers, the West Coast National Park and the West Coast Fossil Park, Bird Island as well as the unspoiled beaches of Yzerfontein.

D.B: The course comprises both theoretical as well as practical components. How are the guides assessed?

G.H: The assessment is based on the workbooks and submission of a power-point presentation for a particular Provincial tour.  FGASA required that the learners doing this qualification through FGASA have already attained either Nature or Culture NQF4 Skills program, and thus their guiding skills will have already been practically assessed.

D.B: The manuals are currently undergoing an update. How will the new manuals differ from the existing ones and will those who have previously qualified need to update their qualifications?

G.H: The manuals and workbooks are currently being updated and developed into a more streamlined product to reduce unnecessary repetition of evidence submitted by the learners.  The Manuals are in need of updates due to changing structures, government officials and laws as well as the inclusion of current statistics for the country. Learners who have previously qualified do NOT need to update their qualifications, but it is hoped that they will have kept up to date with the relevant changes in the country.  Once you have attained a qualification you have it and do not need to redo it.



David Forbes


D.B: David, could you tell me about yourself?

D.F: I’m a filmmaker by profession, and a former journalist and photographer. With the collapse of the SABC, and the failures of the Dept. of Arts & Culture re, the NFVF and other broadcasters to support documentary filmmaking, I had to make another career. Tourism and especially photographic tourism offered a chance for me to use all my skills in a new area.

D.B: It seems that the course offers an Intro to SA as one of the learner manuals? Do you believe that this is where everyone should start?

D.F: The FGASA course is an excellent place to start.  It’s recognized, and you get a professional qualification.

D.B: Which provinces are your specialities?

D.F: For now, Mpumalanga and Gauteng, but I will expand gradually until I am a full SA tourist guide.

D.B: What are the highlights of your chosen provinces?

D.F: The Ndebele villages, Kruger National Park, the stunning views from the Escarpment, and the Geo-trail just outside Barberton (Mpumalanga), and then in Gauteng, the Cradle of Humankind, Soweto, Johannesburg, for its vibrant inner-city experiences and Pretoria for historic buildings, museums and galleries.

DB: The course comprises both theoretical as well as practical components. How were you assessed? Was it tough?

D.F: It was a lot of work, but not too difficult.

D.B: What should tourists (both local and international) look out for in a guide? How can they tell the competent ones from the scam artists?

D.F: Passion is important, knowledge and safety is critical, good guides should really spoil and look after their tourists, and should be knowledgeable, not just in a textbook way, but taking it way beyond that with personal experiences and contacts.



Brian Colling


D.B: Brian, could you tell me about your background and your involvement with FGASA?

B.C: I have been a member of FGASA since the 1998 (22 years) and I served on the National Executive Committee from 2000 to 2005 as Vice Chairman as well as Gauteng Regional Chairman from 2010 to 2015

I have both Professional Nature Guide and Trails Guide qualifications, as well as being a registered FGASA Assessor. I am registered as a National Tourism Guide (FETC) and a National Assessor with CATHSSETA for Nature and Culture.

Over the years I have conducted various Preparation Workshops for students before FGASA and National Guide theory examinations,

 D.BIt seems that the course offers an Intro to SA as one of the learner manuals? What should learners focus on in this manual?

B.C: Very difficult to say. If a candidate  is striving to become a National (all 9 provinces) guide then they have to know cultural and nature facts on all 9 provinces

Probably the best-known Provinces to international visitors are the Western Cape, home of Cape Town and the Cape Winelands; Mpumalanga, famous for its spectacular scenery and the Kruger National Park; and KwaZulu-Natal, with its capital city, Durban, historic battlefields and wonderful beaches.

The other six provinces – the Northern Cape, Eastern Cape, Gauteng, Limpopo, North West, and Free State offer their own unique sights and experiences.

DB: The course comprises both theoretical as well as practical components. How are the guides assessed? 

B.C: Guides can do one Site / Region/ Province at a time.

The FGASA Culture Guide (NQF4) Certificate consists of the following compulsory components:

  • Conduct a guided cultural experience
  • Care for customers
  • Conduct a tourist guiding activity
  • Minimize and manage safety and emergency incidents
  • Research and design a guided experience at a prominent tourism site
  • South African general knowledge

Once a candidate has successfully completed the required Culture Guide Workbooks), they will be eligible to apply to write the FGASA Culture Guide (NQF4) theory examination.

The practical assessment for the Culture Guide (NQF4) Certificate is carried out by a registered FGASA assessor in the province/region the candidate has chosen. To complete this aspect, the candidate will have to take the assessor on a guided cultural experience with or without clients. (A pre-assessment brief will enable the candidate to prepare for the task ahead).

Once the practical competency has been successfully assessed, the paperwork will be submitted to FGASA who will issue the certification. This is then taken by the guide to their provincial tourism department where they can register as a legal tourist guide

D.B: The manuals are currently undergoing an update. How will the new manuals differ from the existing ones, and will those who have previously qualified need to update their qualifications?

B.C: Yes, manuals are being updated this time to keep the course as relevant as possible.

Once you have the qualification registered, you will not have to update your qualifications. However, it is up to you to keep yourself update with all the changes in our country as they happen to be able to provide accurate information to your guests to be able to create and conduct a  top-class guided experience.



To find out more about what FGASA has to offer, click on the logo above to visit their website.