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ATKV-Drakensville Environmental Centre Training Programme

Updated: Jan 19, 2023

ATKV Drakensville Environmental Centre has been operating in the Northern Drakensberg for the past 30 years. We offer a variety of opportunities for schools, churches and teambuilding camps. We specialise in training of adventure and culture activities under licence of Adventure Qualifications Network.

Why we train our staff.

The guides at ATKV play a very important part in the ATKV offering to holidaymakers. Therefore insurance is need to cover in the unlikely event of an incident or accident on site or under the control of the guides. The insurance company only acknowledges an NQF qualification. We are thus forced to invest more money into training than years passed. It is still however much cheaper to invest in guides than paying a claim from the public.

An investment in staff is never a waste. It grants the guides an opportunity to grow as a person and to support their families based on a more secure financial income. The qualification brings a matter of job security to the table, especially to those guides qualified in high risk activities.

In-house training.

The guides at ATKV get trained on different aspects of the industry as needed by the Centre. Our needs are quite unique to the area of operation and is thus covered by training in-house.

Water safety.

Staff get trained in line with SAMSA (South African Maritime Safety Authority) safety guidelines with regards to Personal Floatation Devices, safety on water and so much more. Swimming guidelines are taught within the suggestions from the Department of Education, Sports, and Recreation.

Experiential learning.

Guides are trained to facilitate experiential learning by using activities, games and ice breakers. The theory is implemented by physically training the guides as if they are the actual clients with briefings, debriefings and Standard Operating Procedures (SOP`s) covered during these sessions. ATKV has a wealth of experienced free-lance facilitators that we use from time to time to assist in this.

Safety training.

Guides are trained within the SOP’s and risk analysis within the Environmental Centre. We, to date, have a 156 SOP`s on all activities. SOP`s are grouped together and generic training is provided with all guides signing the SOP`s at the end of training and an attendance schedule is kept.

Tourism Act and Sexual Offences Act.

Guides undergo a morning session on both Acts (what the law says). It is highlighted how easily a guide can find themselves in hot water. We use enactments to facilitate the training and show the guides how quickly something can go wrong. Guides sign a register to prove that they have been trained in this regard. Criminal checks are done and police clearance certificates are mandatory for all guides.


Guides are trained in-house on the pandemic and how to keep safe whilst working with the public. The main training material is provided by ATKV head office, the Centre has however adapted the training to suit the needs of outdoor activities specifically. An example of this is that the ropes cannot be sanitized during an abseiling activity – we look at examples of what we can do to keep them safe for use by the public.

External training:

Adventure Qualifications Network

Guides are assessed and moderated under the GASG (Generic Adventure Site Guide Course), NQF level 4. They are scoped under specific risk activities and the needs of the Centre. Training is done by the in-house facilitator and assessor, and moderated by an external moderator from AQN. We have saved a huge amount of money by using internal training and external moderation. Even more positive is that the training providers under AQN “trade training”. The Centre at ATKV is not equipped for the training of white-water rafting, we then trade with a reputable company to train our staff in white water rafting and we train that company’s staff in abseiling in return. Both parties reap the rewards and build a positive and accountable relationship between parties.

AMAFA KWAZULU NATALI Research institute

Guides are trained by AMAFA to act as custodians where rock art is found. The custodian is trained to provide information about the paintings, livelihoods, religion, food and much more in a respectful and truthful manner. Custodians are trained to manage the sites as a cultural treasure with set management plans in place.

Adventure Institute

ATKV guides were trained for the first time this year as outdoor classroom facilitators by the Adventure Institute. The training was done at an external site and the gathering of hours for evidence done at the Centre. Multiple activities were trained and practically assessed on site later in the year when the required evidence was achieved. This training included an ARA certificate as well.


The AtKV internship was run for the first time this year. Four students made it through the difficult sifting process. The interns got trained on a multitude of adventure aspects such as First aid, Self Defence, adventure activities, facilitation skills, Resort entertainment programmes and much more. Three students have recently qualified as Adventure Site Guides NQF4 and await the final certificates from CATHSETTA to undergo registration as tourist guides at the KwaZulu Natal Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism.

We have advertised the plans for the internship on social media platforms and have opened spaces for five interns for the year of 2023. One of the 2022 interns will open her own tourism business soon and the other two interns await appointment within the ATKV Resorts.

The interns have qualified with the following scopes being covered – Hiking on-trail below 2400m ASL, adventure-based experiential and teambuilding guide, horse riding (both single outride and multi-day safari), flat-water paddling, mountain biking, fly fishing, archery, and many more.

External Training provided by ATKV Drakensville:

Gap Year Groups

The Centre provided training and assessments for two separate gap year groups this season and both have already booked the next groups for the coming season.

ATKV Postmatriek and Warriors Academy

The ATKV Centre trains ad-hoc in certain risk activities such as abseiling. The training covers the base for the GASG training that is offered to the students. Both gap year groups’ facilitators train the students both in-house and by using external trainers such as MTD. The students are then assessed by the external assessor from the Adventure Qualifications Network that is affiliated to ATKV Drakensville Environmental Centre. Scopes vary and is decided based on the experience and need of the students.

Warriors Academy follows the GASG training as base for the qualification of the MAI`s (Multi Activity Instructors) and specialize in adventure activities that carry more risk. Warriors specialize in altitude hiking and uses the Drakensberg Grand Traverse, Wolkberg and various other extreme routes to build the necessary experience to qualify in this direction of Mountain walking. The assessment process is very difficult as multi-day assessments are required for each scope requested.


Various students have been assessed for a variety of levels for hiking, Mountain walking and abseiling. The standard of training at MDT is very high with some of the best experienced facilitators in the industry and it should only be fair that the student then get assessed on the same high level as offered by ATKV. The Centre has with great success assisted with the formalising of qualifications for students that start their own tourism businesses. The Centre is very proud to be associated with such businesses and the success they achieve based on the standards of assessment.

Adventure challenges (Vas byt camp)

Many private schools embark on a multi-day challenge with multiple activities covered on this challenge. ATKV has been involved with the training and/or assessments of these types of challenges for a while now. Teachers are trained/assessed on multiple activities and qualify within the outlines of the GASG. The response has been very positive and the Centre plays an advisory role even long after the students have qualified.



It is very rare that one now-a-days finds an individual that is truly passionate about a job in the adventure industry. The instructor/facilitator/guide is not aware of all the possibilities of the Adventure Industry and therefore only sees the job as a stepping stone to something bigger and better. The gap between trainer (that is a ball of passion) and potential student broadens as the student is not willing to put in the effort to become the best instructor/facilitator/guide that they can be.

Social media is a major headache as platforms have become the go-to place for training. One can search how to do knots, rescues etc. and base the expectation on that. The trainer then has the task to break this expectation first and then train the student in line with the expectation or assessment standard of the specific activities as published by CATHSSETA to achieve the qualification’s outcomes.


There is a massive misconception that training is expensive. The correctly-aligned training with reputable companies that operate within the industry have certain costs to cover. Most however have a scale on payment that makes training accessible to all potential students. Many of these training providers will invest in the students based on the potential of the student. Many training providers also provided subsidised training for students that have real potential, drive and passion to qualify.

Equipment is extremely expensive. Especially equipment used in high risk activities. The biggest expenditure of a trainer is on the equipment that is needed to train the students. Many students do not have the finances to get the equipment themselves and rely on the trainer to provide them with this during training.

Why we joined the South African Adventure Industry Association.

ATKV Drakensville joined SAAIA in the last financial year. As with all new projects, there was a bit of uncertainty as to what and why we joined. The professional advice given by industry leaders like Dr Pieter Snyman, was taken to heart and we signed up to play a small part in professionalising the industry.

As a company, we expect to be heard on matters that are difficult to manage as we are operating on numerous legs pertaining to the Adventure Tourism industry. We are willing to help on matters where we have had great success so far and in industry confidentiality on areas where we have not been successful. There is a wealth of knowledge locked in the ATKV that can be used by and for the benefit of SAAIA members as we expect to use our fellow members for the same reason.

As and when we display the SAAIA emblem on our facilities, activities, marketing material, etc. we expect SAAIA to stand for the professional advice available to anyone whom might need it. SAAIA can play a big role in the standardising and suggestion of documents pertaining to the industry. It would be a wonderful day if one can click on a link and generic documents are available for all Centres, Companies and individuals to use. A dropdown to the documents required for making a booking and a Health and Safety checklist will be of great help. This is where we find that ATKV Drakensville can be of help and would love to have input of members and SAAIA in the operations of safe and legal entities.

The light of a lighthouse is only critical at night to guide and prevent disaster for a few. It is however in daytime that lighthouses are seen by all for kilometres around. We strive and build with SAAIA to become that beacon the industry so desperately needs.

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