Adventure Tourism Operator

Adventure tourism operators guide and supervise tourists on exciting outdoor activities, up mountains, down rapids, and on biking trips through forests. They help make dreams come true for many people. Activities may include rafting, canoeing, diving, fishing, climbing, hiking, bungee jumping, sailing etc, and take place in a variety of outdoor locations. They also teach the skills necessary for these activities. 

The function of adventure tourism operators is similar to that of regular tour guides, or ecotour guides. However, instead of showing people historically significant locations or guiding people on environmentally friendly camping trips, adventure tourism operators guide and supervise tourists on exciting, heart-thumping activities and tours.

State and provincial governments and municipalities generally support adventure tourism. As well as providing a new source of economic growth in these areas, adventure tour leaders are often key players in preserving natural resources, as well as promoting conservation. Often, adventure tours generate money for developing parks, environmental services, and for natural resource management. They sometimes even clean up the mess made by other people (some adventure tourism operators lead trips up Mount Everest with the object of removing empty oxygen canisters left on the mountain by climbers).

Adventure tourism operators are responsible for the safety of all of their clients during these activities. They make use of and maintain recreational equipment such as rafts and ropes.

Adventure tours are only some of the many tours offered by tour groups and travel agencies. But tourists who participate in trips with adventure tour guides are challenged in ways that tours to museums etc. cannot provide.

Personal Requirements

  • have excellent communication skills
  • passion for ecology, wildlife and nature
  • work very well with different types of people
  • capable of being original, creative and innovative
  • planning and organisational skills
  • patient and practical
  • enthusiastic and energetic
  • physically fit and strong
  • able to remain calm in emergencies
  • safety-conscious, responsible, trustworthy and reliable

How to Enter

Compulsory school subjects: None
Recommended subjects: None (Geography or another language may be useful).

What to Study

There is no prescribed path for those who want to become adventure tour leaders. However, there are some recommended guidelines. It is a good idea to complete a university degree in geography, environmental science or environmental studies, or obtain a diploma in travel and tourism.

Degree: Tourism offered by NMMU, UNISA, UJ, UZ, UP
Diploma: DUT - Ecotourism Management
Tourism - TVET (Technical Vocational Education and Training) Colleges

Tourism is also offered by Boston City Campus, Intec, Damelin, Varsity College and other private institutions.


  • tourism companies
  •  activity operators
  •  team-building activities
  •  tourist / game lodges
  •  holiday resorts
  •  amusement parks
  •  self-employment

Further Information

Tourism Business Council (TBCSA)
3 Amethyst Street, Lyttleton Manor,
Corner of Lenchen Avenue,
Centurion, Pretoria
Tel: (012) 664-0120

Getting Started

  • arrange to speak to an adventure tour leader about this type of career, go on one of their tours
  • master outdoor skills such as hiking, skiing, canoeing, horseback riding, or white-water rafting
  • attend first aid and CPR training and obtain certificates

Programmes by Study Institutions

Adventure Tourism

A PACE Career Centre Product. © All rights reserved | Developed by Netgen (Pty) Ltd. Disclaimer: Please see disclaimer