The Ultimate Question | The Royal Portfolio

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14 June2016

by Ross Bowers

What's the one question that travellers should be asking when they go on safari in Africa? The question that no one asks but the answer to which has the single most impact on the safari experience…

How qualified is the guiding team? An obvious, but rarely asked question that speaks directly to the safety of the guests as well as the quality of the safari experience. A once in a lifetime experience for which guests pay top dollar. An experience which shouldn’t be compromised. Our latest video explains more.

Ranger Qualifications Explained

FGASA is the Field Guides Association of Southern Africa – the body that governs the qualifications of rangers and trackers at all the top safari lodges. They offer numerous qualifications in various disciplines – the most relevant to the safari industry are those of the rangers and the trackers.

Ranger QualificationsTracker Qualifications
Local Nature GuideTracker Level 1
Level 1 Nature GuideTracker Level 2
Level 2 Nature GuideTracker Level 3
Level 3 Nature GuideSenior Tracker
SKSMaster Tracker

Each qualification involves a theory and practical element. Level III is the professional guiding qualification and it’s surprising how few guides in the safari industry have attained this level of qualification. And that is because it takes time and dedication. FGASA has been instrumental in developing guiding as a professional career in which individuals can grow, excel and share knowledge and experiences.

The greatest priority at Royal Malewane is guest safety. The rangers hold the highest FGASA qualifications as well as advanced rifle handling certificates. All the guides and trackers also receive ongoing, on-site wilderness emergency training from experts in the field.

Special Knowledge & Skills

And the qualifications don’t stop there. FGASA introduced a series of Special Knowledge and Skills qualifications (SKS). These are the superhero qualifications – the qualifications that turn a ranger from good to great. The rangers at Royal Malewane share seven SKS qualifications in Dangerous Game and in Birding.

The most qualified guiding team in Africa

To put that into perspective, there are just seven SKS Birding qualifications in the country. Two are academics and four of the active guides with the qualification are at Royal Malewane. For guests with a particular interest in birds, these qualifications make the world of difference.

Being able to tap into the encyclopaedic knowledge of the Royal Malewane guides and trackers while on safari is a rare treat. Edification and insights so peculiar to city life with each game drive tailored to the guests’ interests and knowledge. And that includes specialist photographic safaris. Several rangers are expert wildlife photographers who love sharing their passion with guests offering guidance on equipment, lighting, settings and lenses while providing top tips on how to capture that ultimate safari photo. Your Instagram account will never be the same.

A Sustainable Future

Juan Pinto is the Head Ranger and a Director at Royal Malewane. He also sits on the board of FGASA. He is one of the most qualified guides in the business with a unique set of formal guiding qualifications:

  • FGASA Level 3 Professional Guide
  • SKS – Dangerous Game
  • SKS – Birding
  • Senior Tracker

As a result, Juan was the first active guide to be awarded the honorary title of Scout by FGASA in recognition of these achievements.

We believe passionately in raising the standard of guiding across the industry

Juan and erstwhile Master Tracker, Wilson Masiya have created an ethos that permeates through Royal Malewane, sharing their passion for the African bush and ensuring that all the rangers and trackers strive towards the highest levels of qualification. But their philosophy goes further than that. Juan believes in uplifting the entire industry and ensuring its long term sustainability.

And that starts with the protection of our precious wildlife. Without our incredible wildlife there would be no tourism industry in South Africa. The team at Royal Malewane is passionate about conservation. They wage a daily war on the front line against illegal poaching, pioneering conservation initiatives as a founder member of the Greater Kruger Environmental Protection Foundation. Through conservation, education and collaboration we can ensure that South Africa remains the world’s premier safari destination providing visitors with the most incredible wildlife experiences for generations to come.

For more information about the Royal Malewane guiding team, take a look at the Royal Malewane website.

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Larry Winter
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Great story. You are the best team! Congratulations!

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