APA commercial training – Sea Kayak guide

APA commercial training – Sea Kayak guide

PaddleZone offers the APA accredited coastal paddling training courses. This course is designed for current and potential guides entering the industry and aims to equip them with the basic skills and techniques required to lead short paddling excursions on protected waters (close to shore, protected bays and lagoons etc.). The focus is on safety and rescue and group management. The course runs over two days and comprises of practical exercises as well as theory sessions.

  • Paddling techniques
  • Ropework
  • Trip planning
  • Safety and rescue
  • Dealing with emergencies
  • Features and hazards of coastal water
  • Basic Navigation
  • Guiding & the law

The course is extremely practical and physical in nature and a reasonable level of fitness is required. The course prepares candidates to take the APA assessment, which is held separately and at a later date. The course is also suitable for anyone wanting to learn more about ocean paddling and personal safety and rescue.

The course fees include instruction, food and camping fees if applicable & APA checklists and course materials. Boating equipment and transport to the course are the candidate’s own responsibility but may be able to be arranged through us if required.

We also offer NQF assessments for the generic Adventure Site Guide qualification – read on for more information.

Refresher candidates are very welcome (i.e. they are accompanying the course to log days, refresh their skills or to keep their APA qualification valid). There is no cost beyond the logistics fee.


Course fee:                                                    R1,600.00 (Course notes, course checklist, logbook, use of rescue equipment & instruction)

Logistics fee:                                                            TBC – will depend on course venue and number of trainees (usually around R500.00)


Why PaddleZone Training?


PaddleZone Training Division is headed up by Andrew and Marie-Louise Kellett, both pioneers of swiftwater guide training in South Africa. Andrew’s training expertise is also in demand internationally and he has trained and assessed guides in Namibia, Zambia (Zamebezi), Mozambique, Malawi and Iceland. He is the only instructor and assessor in the country qualified for swiftwater (rivers) flatwater (lakes and estuaries) and ocean guide training.


In addition to Andrew, we have a number of skilled and experienced instructors which enable us to run courses for larger groups. All of our instructors are highly experienced river guides with international experience so they know the industry inside out.


In addition to training, we also own Gravity Adventures – one of the country’s most respected paddling operators. This allows us to keep in touch with what is happening in the industry and ensures that our training is always relevant and up to date.


What is the African Paddling Association (APA)?

The APA is the industry representative body for the commercial paddling industry. Its main role is to set standards for and administer guide training and assessments. Please refer to the Ocean Paddling Guide Qualification Structure for details on how you can progress from a trainee right up to Trip Leader level.

What is the South African Maritime Safety Association (SAMSA)?

SAMSA has been mandated by government to be responsible for safety on all of SA’s waterways, including the sea, rivers, lakes etc. In the case of any serious incident or fatality, they will be the body in charge of the enquiry. SAMSA recognises the APA qualifications through Marine Notice 28 of 2011.

What is the National Qualification Framework?

The NQF is the overarching education and training system set up by government. Within the tourist industry, it is a legal requirement that anyone acting as a tourist guide must have completed an NQF assessment that is approved by CATTHSETA – the authority in charge of tourism. On guided paddling trip, this refers to the Trip Leader in charge of the group. The APA qualification is recognised as part of the Adventure Site Guide qualification, approved by CATHHSETA. We offer NQF assessments for all paddling guides and can advise you of the best route to achieve legal status.

Which NQF qualification applies to paddling guides?

The Generic Adventure Site Guide qualification (GASG) is the legal requirement for all paddling guides leading trips. It can be done in conjunction with the APA Trip Leader qualification. We offer both APA and NQF assessments.

Are you a member of APA?

Yes, we are Operating Members of APA and our instructors are APA members, trained, qualified and experienced.

Do you have your SAMSA Licence to Operate?

Yes we do, we were the first operator to become compliant with the law.


What does the course include?

The course fees include instruction, food and camping fees (where applicable) & APA checklists and course materials.

What is not included?

Boating equipment and transport to the course are the candidate’s own responsibility. Boating equipment can be hired at R350.00 for the course. Before the course, we will circulate the course list and contact numbers of the trainees can arrange transport between themselves.

What do I need to bring?

  • Copy of your ID
  • Sleeping bag and roll mat (if camping)
  • Tent (if camping)
  • Change of clothes for evening (including anorak)
  • Mess kit (plate, knife, fork, spoon, mug – if camping)
  • Boat (sit inside or sit on top touring kayak), PFD, paddle, splashy etc.
  • Snacks (biltong, chocolates etc.)
  • Drink mix (e.g. Game)

Do I need to be fit? What if I’m not a strong swimmer?

This is a very practical course so you do need to be reasonably fit and active. Ideally, you should be able to swim or at least be comfortable in the water.

I have not done much paddling – can I still do the course?

You will progress more quickly if you have done at least some paddling before. The best is contact one of the ocean paddling companies and arrange to go along on a trip as an unpaid assistant. This will give you a good idea of what the job of a paddling guide is like and also give you some basic paddling experience. If you don’t have any paddling experience at all, you are still able to do the course; your learning curve will just be a bit slower.

Is it safe? What about if I hurt myself?

There is an inherent element of risk in every adventure, especially when learning new skills. Having said that, paddling with our professional instructors should not be considered dangerous. The whole focus of the APA river guide course is on prevention of incidents. Our instructors are all trained in First Aid and we carry a First Aid kit. It is your responsibility to inform the instructors about any allergies or medical conditions you may have and to make sure you have any personal medication with you (e.g. asthma pumps, allergy medication etc.).

What will the meals be like, if applicable?

Simple, freshly made and sufficient. Trainees will be involved in preparing and serving meals and will learn valuable campcraft skills along the way.

Why restrict group sizes?

A Trainee to Instructor ratio of 8:1 has been set to ensure safety and individual attention.

Any other restrictions?

The APA code of safety requires us to warn you against consuming alcohol or drugs in the 8 hours preceding the trip as well as at all times on the water.

How do I book?

You will need to complete and hand in a booking form as well as pay a R500.00 deposit into the following account: PaddleZone, FNB, account number 62528170161. Your booking is NOT confirmed until we have received both completed the form and payment. Please make sure to reference your deposit with your name.  If you are paying in cash please DO NOT use the bank account but make arrangements to pay us directly.

What will I get?

  • Course notes
  • APA Course checklist
  • An individual written assessment and marks
  • A letter of Attendance (if you complete the course successfully)
  • APA qualified Instructors