So you want to become a trails guide in Botswana? Let us help you better understand the process. Avoid being daunted by the verbose BQA requirements. Because of this, we have created this blog to help you understand the VPDA requirements. So, what does that mean? Well, it stands for Viewing Potentially Dangerous Animals (VPDA) on foot. People often misunderstand the practical requirements for this qualification. If you have read the BQA unit standards, you will know how confusing this can be. I want to jump straight into some terminology we will use. So an encounter is when you happen upon an animal on foot. And an approach is when the trails guide makes the decision to approach the animal with the guests.
Lead Trails Guide Requirements
Required hours guiding on foot
So, the trainee requires minimum of 100 hours on foot as a back-up walking nature guide. And this must be under the supervision of a qualified lead walking guide in an area with Potentially Dangerous Animals (PDA’s).
And of the 100 hours, the trainee must have at least 20 hours leading the walk. You will have to do this under the supervision of a qualified lead guide. Previous hours of walking experience can be back-datedwith an attestation or portfolio of evidence.
Encounters and approaches as back-up nature walking guide
A minimum total of 20 encounters and approaches as a back-up nature walking guide or leading walks, divided up according to specific animalspecies as follows:
one approach/encounter with a lion or a leopard;
eight approaches/encounters with elephant, five with bulls and three with breeding herds.
four approaches/encounters with buffalo (2 with bulls and 2 with breeding herds) except for areas such as the Tuli Block, Makgadikgadi and the Kgalagkadi Transfrontier Park.
In the remaining seven approaches/encounters you can log a variety of different species. Here you can log any of the following: elephant, hippo, buffalo, lion, leopard or rhino.
Encounters and approaches as lead nature walking guide
So you will require a minimum of 10 encounters as a lead nature walking guide. You must do these under the supervision of a lead walking nature guide. In your logbook, your encounters should be divided up as follows:
one approach/ encounter with a lion or a leopard;
three approaches/encounters with elephant (2 with bulls, 1 with breeding herd);
two approaches/encounters with buffalo (1 with a bull and 1 with a breeding herd).
And logging your remaining four approaches and/or encounters can be made up of any of the listed Potentially Dangerous Animals (PDA’s).
Back-up Trails Guides Requirements
Required hours on foot for back-up trails guides
A minimum of 50 hours on foot in areas with PDA’s supervised by a qualified mentor.
Required encounters and approaches on foot
Back-up trails guides require minimum of 6 encounters or approaches of PDA’s with a mentor. A mimimum of 3 of the 6 encounters/approaches must be as backup or lead guide. The remaining 3 may be as part of a group.
If you are interested in more information on our training for Trails Guides please check out our Trails Guide Course