What is a Back-up Trails Guide?

Our Professional Field Guide lodge placement programs can vary from working at animal rehabilitation centres, gaining knowledge as a Field guide at a Game Lodge or even working as a Back-up Guide at one of our camps, to name a few.

We interviewed some of the students chosen to work as Back-up Guide and this is what they had to say about the opportunity.


Saskia Goeckeritz

I simply love living in a bush camp and learning new skills around camp. It also gives me the chance to learn more from the Instructors at EcoTraining. Being a Backup helps me to gain more experience and build up hours towards my Lead Trails Guide.

Luke Macdonald

I want to be a backup because I want as much walking experience as possible and to hopefully get my Lead Trails qualification. I personally think it will be more beneficial as I will learn more practical skills.

Anna Katharina, Raaben

After staying in the bush for five months with EcoTraining I can already say that I really have learnt so much, but there is still so much I want to learn. Staying another 6 months as a backup with EcoTraining gives me the opportunity to spend more time with greatly qualified instructors and all the other great people who work and learn here. Staying here allows me to improve my skills, and knowledge and also gives me the opportunity to become involved with camp work. For me, there is no other way to achieve the same amount of knowledge and personal growth than being a backup with EcoTraining

Kewan Bagley

Being a backup makes me feel excited and nervous all at the same time. I am thrilled to be able to spend more time in beautiful wilderness areas and learn more about these places.


Saskia Goeckeritz

It means supporting the Lead Guide on trails. You are also meant to do all kinds of camp duties such as maintenance on the vehicles and ensuring the camp is kept clean and ready for students.

Luke Macdonald

It is someone who will back up the Lead guide on his/her walks. It also means doing behind-the-scenes jobs such as cleaning pathways or doing rubbish runs. Nonetheless, starting from the bottom is the best way to learn!

Anna Katharina Raaben

I am greatly thankful to be a Backup and I enjoy the role of a backup, especially when we are out walking in the bush. I love the responsibility and I love challenging myself.

I can’t wait for the next six months because I know what a positive effect it will have on me and my life.

Kewan Bagley

Being a Backup means I have an opportunity to expand my knowledge and be mentored by very experienced and capable instructors.

About the Author:
Picture of Annemi Zaaiman

Annemi Zaaiman

Explore more

elephant herd in Pridelands with the mountain range in the background

The Elephant is Watching You

Many people love encountering elephants on their game drive in the South African bush, regardless of whether it is on an individual or a whole herd. Besides the obvious visible behaviour, there are many smaller signs of body language. Knowing them and being able to interpret them can increase your enjoyment of any elephant sighting.

Read more

The African Wild Dog

African wild dogs are a sight to behold with their colourful coats and long, elegant legs, especially in large packs. Unfortunately, the wild dog is one of the most endangered carnivores on the continent. We find out what makes them unique and how conservation initiatives strive to protect them.

Read more

The people you meet on an EcoTraining course

Have you decided to take an EcoTraining course? Then, a wealth of information is available to take in beforehand. The course descriptions, enough pictures on social media to make you daydream for hours, packing lists, and videos on EcoTraining’s YouTube channel. You name it, it’s there! One thing you won’t be able to find out upfront, though – unless you sign up with a bunch of friends – is who will be the people joining you on the course. In this story, Wim reflects on the fantastic group on his 35-day Practical Field Guide course.

Read more

Start your wildlife career

Want to become a field or nature guide? Explore our immersive courses and training programmes for professional safari guides and guardians of nature, taught and led by experts in the industry.

EcoTraining offers career and accredited courses, wildlife enthusiast courses, gap year programmes and customised group travel courses.

Join our nature-loving community.