APA and IRF commercial training : River – Trip Leader course and assessment

APA and IRF commercial training : River – Trip Leader course and assessment

APA commercial training – Trip Leader course and assessment


This course is designed for guides holding the APA River Guide qualification, who wish to progress to Trip Leader: Restricted level. This is the qualification required to lead commercial river trips on rivers up to an including class 3. In order to complete this qualification, you need to have sufficient logged, guiding experience (please refer to the APA swiftwater guide qualification structure for details). You also need to hold a Level 3 First Aid qualification.

The course is extremely practical and physical in nature and a reasonable level of fitness is required. The course is also ideal for anyone wanting to learn more about advanced swiftwater safety and rescue, even if they don’t intend to work as a guide.

The course fee includes instruction, food and camping fees & APA checklists and course materials. It is a workshop combined with a practical and theory assessment so, if you successfully complete the course, you do not need to do any further assessments after this. Boating equipment and transport to the course are the candidate’s own responsibility. Boating equipment can be hired at R300.00 for the course. Contact us if you do not have any means of arranging transport.

The Trip Leader:Restricted quailification is nationally recognised by the APA and SAMSA and is also recognised as the  specialist qualification for the new Adventure Site Guide NQF qualification.

Andrew Kellett of PaddleZone is also an accredited International Rafting Federation (IRF) instructor and assessor so if you do your assessment with him, you will hold an internationally recognised qualification.

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


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 (Zambezi), 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 Swiftwater Guide Qualification Structure for details on how you can progress from a trainee right up to Trip Leader level.

What is the International Rafting Federation?

The IRF is an international federation of members who oversee the sport of rafting on a global scale. They oversee an internationally recognised scheme for guide training and certification. APA is a founder member of the IRF but only IRF accredited instructors and assessors can offer IRF approved training and assessments.

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. The APA qualification is the only one recognised by SAMSA.

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. 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.

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 and assessment, food and camping fees & 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 R300.00 for the course. Before the course, we will circulate the course list and contact numbers so that the trainees can arrange transport between themselves.

What are the camping facilities like?

Our base camp is a grassed campsite on the river banks. There is electricity and ablution blocks.

What do I need to bring?

  • Copy of your ID
  • Copy of your ID
  • Sleeping bag and roll mat
  • Tent
  • Warm clothes for evening
  • Mess kit (plate, knife, fork, spoon, mug)
  • Boat (croc or kayak), helmet, PFD, paddle, splashy etc.
  • Snacks (biltong, chocolates etc.)
  • Drink mix (e.g. Game)
  • Hat, sunscreen, rash vest and kikoi
  • Drink bottle

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. As a Trip Leader, it is required that you are a confident swimmer.

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, running rivers 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.).

I don’t have an APA River Guide qualification, can I still attend the course?

APA does make allowance for recognition of prior learning assessments so please contact us to discuss your current experience and qualifications and we will advise you of your options. You MUST contact us in good time before the workshop in case any assessments are needed prior to the workshop. If you book and arrive at the workshop without the correct qualification or without having made arrangements for an RPL assessment, you may not be able to complete the workshop or you might have to complete additional training or assessment after the workshop. In this case, we will not be able to refund your fees.

What will the weather be like?

Plan for hot, sunny days and cool to warm nights.

What will the meals be like?

Simple, freshly made and sufficient. Trainees will be involved in preparing and serving meals.

Why restrict group sizes?

A Trainee to Instructor ratio of 1:8 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 course 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, Standard Bank, Kromboom branch: 026209, account number 272145459. 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 Instructor and assessor


More Questions? Give us a call!

Tel/fax: (021) 683 1159

E-mail: andrew@gravity.co.za; www.gravity.co.za