Tour Planning for Adventure Guides

Most Adventure guides I know think of tour planning as that annoying and sometimes frustrating part of being able to get out and do the activities they love, so I thought I would share my thoughts on the benefits of good tour planning.

For the newly qualified adventure guide you will have worked on a trip plan or two as part of your assessment process and so will understand that taking clients out to do those adrenalin activities you love has a lot more involved, especially if you want to bring back your clients safely and ensure your business continues to grow.

As a professional you will have decided on an activity to offer to paying clients and initially this may be one activity or in one area, so you start with your first trip plan. In addition to the activity itself though there is much to take in to consideration.

  • Access permits to the areas you will be travelling through;
  • Equipment required for the activity;
  • Transport – do you need to pick up your clients (if so do you have the required licences for yourself and your vehicle);
  • Food – will you be supplying lunch and snacks for your clients or all meals; Staff – do you require assistants to help with your group or is it just yourself running a trip from point A to B with clients, do you have a backup guide available to call on should you fall ill the day before the trip starts;
  • Accommodation – does your activity require overnight accommodation;
  • Emergency contacts – it is good practice to know the closest hospitals and doctors to where your trip will be run and contact telephone numbers.

I won’t go into detail on each of the above points as I am sure you are all aware of these and will have looked at each point in developing your own trip plans. It is important to note however that it is these additional aspects that added to an activity make the trip plan and once you have each item listed it is easy to look at the relevant costs associated and so work out the cost of your trip for each client.

Once you have your first trip plan done you are now in a position to work on your second one, whether it be a different activity or the same activity in a different area. I would recommend revisiting your trip plans twice a year to re-evaluate if it is still working or after significant cost changes – fuel price rises or changes to access permits costs etc.

So this is how we have all started as professionals in the Adventure guiding business and next time I will look at what can be done next to take your business to the next level…

Michelle owns Globetrotting My Way and has 22 years experience planning trips.

Featured image credit: Willemien Du Plessis

Glossary of Terms

AQN

ADVENTURE QUALIFICATIONS NETWORK is a company and a CATHSSETA  accredited training/assessment provider. We have been operating for 18 years. AQN is not in any way a national governing body, and does not control the adventure industry as is often mistakenly reported.

WILDWAYS NQ was established in 2001 in response to an emerging need for a provider body to handle the administration of NQ assessments for the Adventure Industry.

National Qualifications were being developed and many assessors trained, but no provision had been made to assist an industry, which in general hates paperwork. Also, policy that was being put in place did not understand or take any note of the particular needs or circumstances of the Adventure industry, and as such, the industry was incapable of accessing National Qualifications.

Wildways, with very limited recourses, decided to attempt to fill this gap. In 2004 Wildways converted all this work to the Adventure Qualifications Network cc and in 2014 converted to a PTY (Ltd) in 2017 as a stand-alone body.

AQN is a dynamic industry needs driven organisation that responds to the needs of its Affiliates, to meet the demands of an increasingly complex system and the needs of practitioners who need to hold formal qualifications.

AQN is willing and strives to work with other national organisations in order to share resources and make qualifications readily available in the country.

CATHSSETA

The Culture, Art, Tourism, Hospitality, and Sport Sector Education and Training Authority (CATHSSETA) is one of 21 SETAs established under the Skills Development Act (No 97 of 1998) in 2001.

CATHSSETA was formally known as the Tourism and Hospitality Education and Training Authority (THETA) until 1 April 2012, when we became the Culture, Art, Tourism, Hospitality and Sport Sector Education and Training Authority.
Our mandate is to facilitate skills development within our sub-sectors through the disbursement of grants for learning programmes and monitoring of education and training as outlined in the National Skills Development Strategy (NSDS).

SAQA

Among other things, the SOUTH AFRICAN QUALIFICATIONS AUTHORITY is the body responsible for registering qualifications onto the National Qualifications Framework

THETA

Now known as CATHSSETA

QCTO

The Quality Council for Trades and Occupations (QCTO) is a Quality Council established in 2010 in terms of the Skills Development Act Nr. 97 of 1998. Its role is to oversee the design, implementation, assessment and certification of occupational qualifications, including trades, on the Occupational Qualifications Sub-Framework (OQSF).

The QCTO also offers guidance to skills development providers who must be accredited by the QCTO to offer occupational qualifications.

SITE GUIDE

They have attained the minimum qualification in order to guide in a “limited defined area”. Could be a place or activity i.e. A specific museum, A local attraction, Hiking in the Drakensberg, Paddling the Vaal, Rock Climbing.

PROVINCIAL GUIDE

Provincial Guides are qualified to take tourists around an entire Province and they will have been assessed theoretically and practically in that Province. i.e. Western Cape, KZN etc

NATIONAL GUIDE

National Tour Guides have been and are permitted to conduct tours all around South Africa, crossing all provincial boundaries. They will have knowledge of all nine Provinces.

It does get a little complicated as most Adventure Guides tend to operate Nationally although they are Site Guides, this is due to the site descriptor which is generic to the activity and not the geographical environment. eg. a Archery Guide can do archery anywhere. Some limitations do exist for some activities.

QUALIFICATION

Strictly speaking a ‘Qualification’ only applies to a program that consists of at least 120 credits and registered by SAQA.

SKILLS PROGRAM (Part Qualification)

A Skills Program is less than 120 credits and is resisted by a SETA (Sector Education Training Authority – CATHSSETA for example).

The GASG, Generic Adventure Site Guide program, is a skills program as it has between 46 and 60 credits.

DNT or NDT

The National Department of Tourism is mandated to create conditions for the sustainable growth and development of tourism in South Africa. The Tourism Act makes provision for the promotion of tourism to and in the Republic and for regulation and rationalisation of the tourism sector, including measures aimed at the enhancement and maintenance of the standards of facilities and services utilised by tourists; and the co-ordination and rationalisation of the activities of those who are active in the tourism sector.

The department is mandated to oversee the Registration of Tourist Guides in terms of the Tourism Act.

Provincial Registrars

Registrars under the DNT are the people in each province who register Guides.

DNT FAQ’s

Frequently asked questions.

How to be a Professional Guide in South Africa

Be Professional, Be proud

All Guides operating in South Africa have to be registered or they are unprofessional and liable for prosecution.

A Guide is…

Any person who, for monetary or other reward, accompanies people who are traveling through or visiting any place within a country, and who furnishes those people with information or comments concerning a place or objects visited is defined as Tourist Guide. Many tourist guides may also wish to run their own tour operations in which they are both tour guide and tour operator.

 

Categories of Guides

There are three categories of tourist guides:

Site Guides

They have attained the minimum qualification in order to guide in a “limited defined area”. Could be a place or activity i.e. A specific museum, A local attraction, Hiking in the Drakensberg, Paddling the Vaal, Rock Climbing.

Provincial Guides

Provincial Guides are qualified to take tourists around an entire Province and they will have been assessed theoretically and practically in that Province. i.e. Western Cape, KZN etc.
 

National Guides

National Tour Guides have been and are permitted to conduct tours all around South Africa, crossing all provincial boundaries. They will have knowledge of all nine Provinces.

It does get a little complicated as most Adventure Guides tend to operate Nationally although they are Site Guides, this is due to the site descriptor which is generic to the activity and not the geographical environment. eg. a Archery Guide can do archery anywhere. Some limitations do exist for some activities.

Types of Guiding

The above categories of Guides can then also be classified into three specialities:

Adventure

A guided adventure experience.

Rock climbing, Paddling, Diving, Bungee, Sand-boarding, Zip-lines, Hiking, Off Road 4×4 Adventures, Canyoning, Camping, Snorkeling etc

Nature

A guided nature experience.

These are Nature based guided tours. Game Reserves, National Parks, Nature conservation areas, Nature trails, Birding tours, Butterfly tours, Geology tours, Spoor tracking, etc…

Culture

A guided cultural experience.

These are Culture / History / Community based tours which could include: museums, community projects, wine farms, art tours, political tours, historical tours, etc.

Qualifications

 There are only two qualifications registered on the National Qualifications Framework (NQF) presently:

  • National Certificate in Tourism: Guiding (NQF2)
  • National Certificate in Tourism: Guiding (NQF4)

Note that a new NQF 5 National Certificate specifically for the Adventure Industry is currently being developed. It is hoped this will become available in 2019.

Sometimes several unit standards, within the different areas of specialisation, have been clustered together to form SKILLS PROGRAMMES addressing areas of specialization, and aimed at persons wishing to only complete the specialized minimum area of learning required to guide.

These skills programmes are registered by CATHSSETA (the old Theta) for certification purposes. The applicable unit standards are registered on the NQF.  In order for you to register as a site guide specialising in culture, nature, or adventure guiding you need different combinations of unit standards, these rules of combination can be accessed on the CATHSSETA (Culture Arts, Tourism, Hospitality and Sport Sector Education and Training Authority) website, www.cathsseta.org.za

If you want to register as a regional on national guide you need, as a minimum qualification at NQF level 4 plus the required unit standard for your area of specialization – view these on the CATHSSETA website

Site Guides just need to hold a Skills program and in the Adventure industry this is the Generic Adventure Site Guide program. (GASG)

Guide Trainers and Assessors

All tourist guide trainers and assessors have to be accredited by CATHSSETA to be able to train according to the national recognised standards and qualifications framework.

Please note that assessors cannot issue certificates on their own as they have to be working for/with an accredited training provider who will then issue certificates from CATHSSETA, upon completion of the assessment. The duration of the course, course content, dates and time of training, fee structure is determined by each training provider.

The Mandatory Registration Process

According to the Tourism Act, any person who wishes to be registered as a tourist guide shall apply to their Provincial registrar.

PLEASE NOTE: CATHSSETA DOES NOT REGISTER TOURIST GUIDES. CATHSSETA GIVES ACCREDITATION TO TRAINING PROVIDERS SO THAT THEY CAN TRAIN GUIDESTourist Guides are registered by the Provincial Registrars of the National Department of Tourism.

The following documents must be provided when applying for registration: 

  1. Signed code of conduct
  2. 2 x ID sized photos
  3. Registration fee of R240
  4. Certified copies of the following:
  5. SA Identity document
  6. CATHSSETA Certificate of Competence (Competence Certificates are ONLY issued by CATHSSETA)
  7. Valid first Aid Certificate
  8. Drivers license and/ or PDP where applicable.

No person shall be registered as a tourist guide in terms of the Tourism Second Amendment Act, 2000 unless he/she-:

  1. Shows proof of competence; (SAQA registered qualification)
  2. Is within the Republic;
  3. Has no criminal record;
  4. Has permanent residence or work permit in the Republic;
  5. Has passed the prescribed quality assurance process that a tourist guide shall complete not later than two years after the date his/her last registration.

Upon registration, the tourist guide will receive a badge and an ID card. The ID card will indicate which province/region/area/site the tourist guide is allowed to operate in, his/her period of registration.

Renewal of Registration   

Any person registered as tourist guide, may before the end of period for which he/she is registered, apply to the Provincial Registrar for renewal of his or her registration and his/her registration shall, upon the payment of R240 be renewed.

International Guides

This all also applies to International Guides leading trips in South Africa. Guides MUST be compliant with the local laws. For example: a UIAGM Mountain Guide may NOT Guide in South Africa without having registered here and hold the local qualifications.

Thanx to Brendon Wainwright for the some of the pictures on this page.

CUF Scale

Ever heard of the CUF scale?

The CUF scale (conditions under foot) is a guide to the type of conditions under foot one may expect on a walking trip. The CUF has an important effect on our walking efficiency. Not all people use the same grading scale, so investigate what the scale you are using uses. If you are leading your own trips and do not have a scale you use already, then this is a good one to use.

There are many other methods of grading walks, but the CUF Scale shown here was developed after 20 years of professional guiding a variety of groups over very differing terrains and has been found to be extremely useful….

Using the CUF scale

Each level may include all the elements of the previous levels and for a trip to be classified at a level, at least 10% of the trip must involve those conditions.

A Class + trip means that it is the class specified, but there may be small sections (<10%) of the next higher level. E.g. Class 3+

Snow, Rain, Wind, Darkness etc. could increase any level to the level above it.

CLASS 1

( 4-5 KM/H AVERAGE )

  • Walking along a clear, well established trail.
  • Could be some erosion to negotiate.
  • May be wet areas with mud.
  • A few rocks or steps in path may be encountered
  • Easy to moderate slopes

CLASS 2

( 3-4 KM/H AVERAGE )

  • Walking along a sometimes-obscured trail.
  • Will be some boulder hopping to cross rivers etc.
  • Moderately steep slopes.
  • Easy cross-country travel (bush, climbing over and around fallen trees, and big talus – hands may be used for balance)

CLASS 3

( 2-3 KM/H AVERAGE )

  • The trail is either very uneven, intermittent or non-existent and you may need to put your hand down occasionally for balance.
  • Requires use of hands for climbing steep sections
  • Rope is necessary only to provide safety in unusual circumstances

CLASS 4

( 1-2 KM/H AVERAGE )

  • Climbing on steep terrain maybe requiring roped belay or rope handrail in sections
  • Scrambling on rocks using hands as well as feet
  • Exposed climbing such as a ladder
  • Rope required to prevent serious injury if a fall occurs
  • Head for heights required in some places.

CLASS 5

( <1 KM/H AVERAGE )

  • Climbing on steep terrain requiring roped belay
  • Safety rope must be used for exposed sections
  • Thin, exposed areas requiring skill and good balance as well as a head for heights.

 

Re-Accreditation 2018 – 2020

Re Accreditation done and dusted…. 18 years and counting providing Adventure Guide Qualifications. We may not be the biggest organisation in SA, but we are the only one accredited. Now if only all the other organisations would be willing to work with us, we could make a big difference to adventure training.