How to enhance your zoology University application

I spent two years working, to get the money to spend two months in South Africa. It was more than worth it,” explains Olivia, having just returned from her 8 week Field Guide course in South Africa.

I’m studying Zoology at University so I am happy to be able to see wildlife in the ‘wild’.

This was my second trip to the game reserve, having spent two weeks as a wildlife volunteer there in 2011 (on the Big Five Lion & Tiger Conservationproject).

white lion on the FGASA level 1 Field Guide Course
white lion at the game reserve in Eastern Cape

I booked through Amanzi Travel both times, as I found all the information they gave me before the trip so helpful, and their friendly emails made me feel very comfortable about going off on my own. This time, I was doing the 8 week Eastern Cape Field Guide FGASA level 1 course.

When I first arrived I was quite overwhelmed by the amount of information the course covered. Gerry, the course instructor, seemed to know everything about everything, and the other students who were already there seemed to know so much as well. As the weeks passed I was still nervous about the exam but was not so intimidated by the course as it was just so interesting. It covered so many different topics, most of which excited me, and with the guidance of Gerry and the other rangers, I couldn’t help but strive to do well. In the end I passed my exam and sobbed when Gerry told me, as I had never wanted anything more than I wanted to pass that exam. I got that news from Gerry on my last day there, which proved to be a day of lots of crying, as I had to say goodbye to so many inspirational people.

banded mongoose spotted on FGASA level 1 Field Guide course
a banded mongoose looking up to see what is going on

We had a few classes a week and other than that, we were working with the volunteers. I met so many lovely people among the volunteers who I am still in contact with. There is a lot of the work where we were doing physical labour (digging holes, fence clearing, road maintenance etc.) but I was quite pleased with that. I spent the entire 8 weeks exhausted but hugely motivated.

I’m studying Zoology at University so I am happy to be able to see wildlife in the ‘wild’ rather than having it tame so that I can play with it. For my two months there, there were no cubs being hand raised so the only interaction was with the elephants at the elephant sanctuary and with the animals in the touch farm. That suited me quite well as I think its better for the animals that way. The rangers made the trip amazing.

learning about African wildlife on the FGASA Field Guide course
white lion cub at the Big Five Lion & Tiger project

Gerry inspired me to do the best I could and the opportunity to work with him was one I’ll never forget. Polite, one of the other rangers who I worked with a lot, was also amazing to work with. He could make any task worth doing. A few of us also felt like we should start documenting all of his philosophical statements. All the rangers were so good at imparting information and allowing us to gain confidence in our knowledge and ability.

Gemma, at Amanzi Travel, was great! She was helpful and friendly when ever we were in contact. The pre-departure pack was really helpful and the health recommendation pack was great. I printed it out and went through it with my doctor so I was very secure in the fact that I had all the vaccinations that I needed.

Ranger training and wildlife course in South Africa
colourful parrots at the reserve

This is the second time I’ve been to this reserve through Amanzi Travel. The first time I went for two weeks as a volunteer, and then spent two years working to make the money to go back for two months to do the FGASA rangers course. I have recommended Amanzi Travel to multiple people (those who I know and those who follow my nature tumblr) and I’m sure I’ll be recommending them again in the future.“

So if you’re interested in doing a FGASA level 1 Field Guide course,  just contact the Amanzi Travel team on +44 (0)117 253 0888 or email

Do something amazing today !

NB: All the fabulous photos here were taken by newly-qualified Field Guide Olivia 🙂


A truly life changing experience, working on wildlife and community volunteering projects in Africa over 15 years ago, convinced Gemma Whitehouse to give up her job as a Marketing Manager for an international organisation and use her skills and expertise to set up a company that would offer others the same amazing opportunities with a service second to none - thus Amanzi Travel was born.

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