Sondela Academy FGASA Endorsed Training Providers So why do a FGASA course at Sondela?
Sondela Nature Reserve is well-known as a popular family resort and is ideally located 7km east of Bela-Bela (Warmbaths), a short 1-hour drive from Pretoria and a mere 1½ hours from Johannesburg. This bushveld nature reserve is spread over approximately 4,800ha and offers Sondela Academy students a varied and interesting ecosystem for fieldwork training, while the resort's guests provide the perfect opportunity for gaining practical, hands-on experience in guiding.
Sondela's underlying geology can be divided into 2 major rock types, namely the Letaba formation in the south (with a sedimentary column of Sandstone and an igneous column of Basalt) and the Clarens formation in the north (with a sedimentary column of fine grained red to cream Sandstone). The soils derived from these rock types have an influence on both the composition of plant species and vegetation structure. Together, these lead to the formation of 6 different plant communities
with over 250 different species of plants
, of which there are a recorded 73 species of grass, 62 species of trees & shrubs and 115 species of forbs
. This in turn affects Sondela's animal diversity which includes 32 different mammal species
and numerous amphibian and reptile species. The diversity of habitat types such as grasslands, woodlands, vleilands and gardens, also makes Sondela a haven for approximately 170 different bird species
and as such it is a recognised Birdlife South Africa site
. Special bird sightings include Secretary Birds
(a pair nests regularly on the reserve), Montagu’s Harrier
(a scarce migrant to SA), Black-chested Snake Eagle, three species of Thrush (Kurrichane, Groundscraper and Olive), Arrow-marked & Pied Babblers and Crimson-breasted Shrikes.
Sondela Academy's training philosophy is one of Workplace Integrated Learning (WIL)
. This means that students not only receive theoretical (classroom) and practical (fieldwork out in the bush) training, but also benefit from on-the-job training on actual game drives with paying guests, under the guidance of qualified guides. In this way our students receive all-round training regarding all aspects of Field Guiding and experience the same interaction with actual guests as they will once they find employment as fully qualified Field Guides. This prepares them for “real life” situations and the combination of knowledge and experience they gain at Sondela will make them far more employable.