Phase One of Field Guide Training a tremendous success

Phase one of the Plett Tourism Field Guide Training programme took place from the 9th to the 14th of February at The Conference Room in the Upper Deck in Plett, and included field trips to forests, wetlands and other sites of ecological, paleontological and marine importance in the area.


Peter Collins led the learner-guides on day 2 of training through the deep Knysna Forest, demonstrating forest ecology and the fascinating history of the Knysna Forest.

“The five day course was a tremendous success and no doubt the 12 selected candidates will benefit tremendously from the experience and the imparted knowledge which formed part of the pre-selection course,” said Grahame Thomson, the course organiser.

The course forms part of the Plett Wineland Trails and the Plett Birding Route initiatives that Plett Tourism is currently in the process of developing. The successful launch of both these new products will be almost entirely dependent on professional and well informed guiding etiquette. The pre-selection guiding course was therefore very much part of a process in achieving these goals and establishing a core of professional guides who originate from local communities and who will be integrated into these new tourism products. It is anticipated these new products will be launched and operational during the latter winter months of 2015.

The Phase One training programme was developed and managed by ecology and tourism professionals who were appointed by Plett Tourism, in conjunction with the Bitou Valley Foundation, and included the following:

  • Guide Training Etiquette – Mary Jane Waite, At The Source
  • Forest Guiding in the Knysna Forests, its history, wildlife  – Frank Carlisle, Bhejane Safaris
  • The Plett Wine Industry – Grahame Thomson, Plett Tourism
  • Ornithology in the Bitou Valley – Gareth Robbins, Plett Birding
  • Specialist guiding in the Garden Route – Gareth Robbins, Plett Birding
  • Forest Ecology – Peter Collins, Bhejane safari’s
  • Marine ecology – Colin Wylie, Garden Route Walks
  • Fynbos ecology – Colin Wylie, Garden Route Walks
  • Paleontology – Grahame Thomson, Plett Tourism
  • Course Management – Julie Carlisle and Mary Jane Waite, At The Source; and Grahame Thomson, Plett Tourism

The course curriculum covered the more significant ecological and tourism related subjects which are pertinent to the Southern Cape and the natural and cultural environment of the Bitou region.

On completion of the course the candidates underwent evaluation which included written and oral tests of the material covered in the programme.

Plett Tourism would like to thank all the participating professionals and eco-tourism companies for their contributions in supporting the guide training program, which was done on a pro bono basis.