Training Courses

Become a Legal & Accredited Adventure Guide

Adventure Guide

An adventure guide is a type of tourist guide. The other two types of guides are Cultural Guides (who visit, for example, museums) and Field Guides (who operate in game reserves). Tourist guides are subject to the Tourism Act no.72 of 1993.

This means that the 3 conditions listed below must be met:

  1. Be in possession of a certificate of competency issued by the South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA).
  2. Register as a Tourist Guide with the relevant Provincial Registrar (Dept. of Tourism).
  3. Sign and adhere to the code of conduct and ethics provided by the Provincial Registrar (Dept. of Tourism).
    Even if a person is very competent and has years of experience in their field of guiding, unless they fulfil the three above requirements, they cannot be a legal guide according to South African law.

Below are the steps that you must follow in order to become a registered adventure guide;

  1. Get sufficient experience in your skill such as day walking, which requires 30 or more guided walks with at least 10 as walk leader. It is important to keep your logbook updated.
  2. Obtain a current and valid first aid certificate, preferably with a wilderness component.
  3. Complete the skills program to qualify for what is known as a Generic Adventure Site Guide Certificate (GASG). Your GASG must have the scope for the activity you wish to guide, such as mountain walking, abseiling etc.
  4. Register with your local provincial Dept. of Tourism as an adventure guide, hand in your ID photos, pay a small fee, sign a code of conduct and get issued with your guide card.

NOTE: It is important that the training authority through which you choose to complete your GASG program is registered as a legal training authority with CATHSSETA (Culture, Arts, Tourism, Hospitality and Sport Sector Education Training Authority) and shows a registration number. They are a government body that regulates qualifications within the tourism industry. If the training authority is not registered with CATHSSETA then the certificate you get from them will not be accredited by SAQA and you will not be able to fulfil the requirements of being a legal tour guide.

SA Outdoor Academy, as the training authority that you register with for your GASG, will take you through an assessment process. During the course of this assessment, you will need to complete the following:

  • Classroom teaching
  • workbooks
  • assignments
  • practical demonstrations
  • group interactions
  • practical and theoretical assessments

The assessments will deal with the general skills needed to operate as an adventure guide, but depending on your scope will also include the technical skills required for the particular adventure activity you want to guide. All of the above assessments and documentation will be put together in a Portfolio of Evidence which will then be submitted to CATHSSETA. If you have been found competent you will be issued with your certificate of competency. Only then will you be able to go to your Provincial Registrar or the Dept. of Tourism with your first aid certificate to register as a guide.

Phase One comprises 5 days of classroom sessions at the SA Outdoor Academy training centre, where we cover Customer Care and Adventure Guide Theory followed by 3 to 4 weeks where you have to complete a number of assignments. This is followed by Phase Two where you complete all assignments and produce a complete adventure trip plan. This also is 5 days in the classroom and in the field. The final activity is a weekend activity where the student will take the group through a guided activity and be assessed on this day hike. When all course material is handed in (such as your assignments and completed workbook, logbook, first aid cert, enrolment form complete, assessment report, and assessment checklist) SA Outdoor Academy will upload everything to CATHSSETA and on approval of their verifier, we obtain a certificate of competency from them. The prospective guide can take their certificate of competency to the Dept. of Tourism in their province of residence, with their current first aid cert and a set of ID photos where they will receive their tourism card and badge.


In this course, the focus will be on training the learner how to handle groups of clients, how to ensure the safety of both themselves and their clients, and research and plan a well-guided trip. The learner will be required to demonstrate their skills learned in this course along with skills assumed to be in place beforehand by incorporating everything in a detailed trip plan and assessed on a single-day guided experience which will only be accredited if up to the standard set by the course.

The following unit standards are covered in the course as regarded by the proposed skills program which this course was designed around:

Care for customer US 246740: as the primary driving force of an adventure guide will be handling and dealing with individuals, you will need to be equipped and prepared to handle all obstacles that may arise and ensure your clients have an enjoyable experience.

Conduct a guided adventure experience US 335816: here the learner will be taught everything involved in guiding a group through an adventure activity.

Research and plan a guided experience at a prominent tourism site US 335803: to ensure you meet your clients' needs and to provide the best experience to your abilities, all learners will be required to compile a detailed plan of a trip. This information will be looked over by our qualified trainers to determine if the learner understands the skills taught in the course.

Lead participants through an outdoor recreation and adventure activity US 262317: the learner will have to show that they have overcome any possible struggles that would have arisen in the prior standards and wrap it all up with the final assessment which will determine if the learner meets the requirements to obtain their qualification. Here the student will demonstrate that they can successfully put together all the skills learned and successfully lead a group on a guided experience.


The GASG that you obtain will allow you to register as a guide only within the scope for which you have been trained. This means that if you, for instance, qualified as a Mountain Walking Guide, you will only be able to guide people within that activity. As a Mountain Walking Guide, you will not be able to guide clients in abseiling.

When you start your GASG you will first be required to complete it with the skill of basic mountain walking, your assessments and logbooks will be set according to this selected scope. Should you wish to guide in other activities, after you have completed your GASG with basic mountain walking guide, it is possible to add a new scope to your GASG. To do this, you can arrange with your training authority to be assessed only for the particular skills necessary to add a new scope. Once you have been assessed for these skills and found competent, you will be able to update your GASG and card and begin guiding in these new activities.

Adventure site guide can be a National Qualification provided your logbook shows that you have sufficient experience in at least 3 of the provinces.

There are many guides out there who have not completed the requirements to be a proper legal guide. There are many reasons for this, some being lack of funds, others being not enough access to training providers, and others, because of ignorance as to what the legal requirements are. The one big reason is there is no proper policing of the law in this respect. This has some serious consequences if there is ever an incident because of the guide operating illegally. They have absolutely no case in court if there is a lawsuit against him/her and/or the organisation that employed their services.

In recent times, police officers have fined illegally operating Walking Guides taking clients up Table Mountain R2000 spot fine and assisted their clients back to safety. This policing is on the increase with all national parks being informed of these requirements and not allowing illegal guiding to occur. Authorities and landowners are beginning to realise the seriousness of unqualified guides operating on their land and are taking steps to prevent it.

Additionally, organisations that employ guides such as adventure travel agencies, schools and youth training providers and adventure camps all require their guides to be properly qualified and hold a guide card with the relevant skills appearing on the back.

  • GASG (Generic Adventure Site Guide)
  • Mountain Walking Limited Scope
  • Single-Pitch Rock Climbing and Abseiling Guide up to 60 m
  • Multi-Pitch Rock Climbing Guide
  • Abseiling Guide over 60m
  • Canyoning Guide Limited Scope Canyoning Full Guide - Multi-Days Mountaineering Guide
  • Extra technical training
  • Beginners' Rock Climbing
  • Rock Climbing Coach Qualification
  • Wilderness First Aid