In this series of blog posts I am sharing my journey to becoming a Western Cape, South Africa, Tourist Guide.


A Geographical Overview of South Africa: Day 4 of the Theory Course

Beautiful Cape CoastlineWhile I loathed History at school, I loved Geography so I really looked forward to this day of learning. The sea, mountains, rivers all have a wonderful fascination for me.

Table Mountain is the first thing that usually comes to mind when you hear Cape Town mentioned. This 1km sandstone mountain that stretches for almost 3kms, with its flat top and frequent tablecloth of cloud dominate the city.

It is quite difficult to get lost in Cape Town as you always have an ocean on one side and the mountain on the other. This makes traffic quite a nightmare but you can’t have everything and Capetonians are very possessive and proud of their city.

Flora and Fauna: Day 3 of the Theory Course

Carina among the FynbosCarina from Sweden - my first tourist.By Day 3, I have realised that being a Tourist Guide is not just about herding a group of people who are intent on doing their own thing, while I wave an umbrella in the air to get their attention as I waffle on about what I see going on around me.

It is also not just about indulging my love of driving in the company of nice people.

You have to know your stuff. You have to have huge reserves of energy, patience and tolerance and be prepared to work really hard. Even if you decide to focus on a narrow field of interest, you have to have a reasonable general knowledge about your country and what is going on around you.

Be interested and be interesting is quite a good mantra for a tourist guide, I think.

Even so, realising how little I knew so far, I was in for yet another wake-up call as we started on the Flora and Fauna of the Western Cape.

The History of South Africa - Day 2 of the Theory Course

post4 history of south africaI loathed history when I was at school in the 60’s and 70’s. Our teacher was notoriously uninspiring and dull, as was the 5cm thick text book we had to study and regurgitate year after year.

This was long before the internet, and our travel as a family was limited to Sunday afternoon drives.

Living in apartheid South Africa, we were divided into Whites, Blacks, Indians and Coloureds with the humiliating Pencil Test in case the authorities couldn’t easily determine the racial group you belonged to by just looking at you.

HermanusDay 1 of the Theory Course

Here are the links to Becoming A Western Cape Tourist Guide: 1 and Becoming A Western Cape Tourist Guide: 2

I was a bit nervous about attending this course as I hadn’t studied for a few years. I also thought I would be the oldest there. Happily the group of 40 included folk in their early 20s to late 60s and from very diverse backgrounds. Some were new retirees, others owned bed and breakfasts or guest houses and there were a couple who were employed by wine estates. A few were intending to make this their first career and some were doing it purely for interest.

We first had to have our photographs taken for our badges and also for submission to the authorities on successful passing of the exams.

view of Cape Town from the seaIn this 2nd post of the series I am going to give a bit of background about the requirements for becoming a tourist guide in South Africa and the different types of guide that you can become.

You need to be 23 years or older, be able to converse in English, (other local and foreign languages are a bonus)and if you are not a South African citizen you need to have a valid work permit.

In order to earn money as a tourist guide you need to have done the required studying which includes theory and practical, passed the exams and registered with the Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism (DEAT). You need to renew your registration every 3 years. You are also required to have a valid Level One First Aid Certificate.

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