My name is Stuart Coffey and I am a professional nature and culture guide, based in Cape Town, South Africa. I own and manage a young startup tourism company called Wild Things Outdoor. It is my passion to inspire adventure. Ask me anything!

Stuart Coffey
May 31, 2018

I am the son of a farmer. A barefoot child, I learned the language and bushcraft of the Zulu people in Kwa-Zulu Nata, South Africa.

Life after the school bell was a continuous adventure. I am hungry for knowledge and passionate about people and travel.

As a middle-class citizen, I spent my school vacations learning the value of making my own money. I worked in hospitality which my personality fit rather well. I was a waiter, barman and even worked at a ski resort one winter where I learned to snowboard.

I have two degrees in Social Sciences and have a passion for making a positive difference in South Africa. Post university took me abroad where I worked in business development for non-profit organizations as well as sales and marketing.

At 28 years old, I lost my father and decided that life was too short not to do what I was passionate about. This was a catalyst for an amazing change in my life and that of others. I became a field guide at one of the leading Safari companies in the world, before leaving to blaze my own trail.

I am now a volunteer wildland firefighter, mountain biker, runner, hiker, nature and more recently culture guide. I spend most of my time outdoors and everyday marvel at the beauty surrounding Cape Town. This was the seed from which I started my own company, Wild Things Outdoor.

Cape Town has always been my favourite city. The mountains and ocean leave a peace in me and those who travel here with me. The Western Cape is wild and wonderful and the opportunities to explore are endless.

Wild Things Outdoor is the essence of who I am. Adventure is in my blood. My guides and partners, like I, have the same passion. We give our guests the value that is forged out of the mould of our lives.

The inspiration that Wild Things Outdoor brings to adventures is worth the energy spent and leaves more than footprints on trails. Come and join the adventure! Let’s make memories.

Ask me anything!

Links

wildthingsoutdoor.co.za/

www.linkedin.com/in/wildthingsoutdoor/

www.instagram.com/wildthingsadventures

www.facebook.com/wildthingsoutdoor

www.tripadvisor.co.za/Attraction_Review-g1722390-d13321439-Reviews-Wild_Things_Outdoor-Cape_Town_Western_Cape.html

IMG_20180529_143403.jpg

www.linkedin.com/in/wildthingsoutdoor/

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What are the top qualities you look for in a travel guide?
Jun 4, 8:46PM EDT0

Passion, Passion and Passion. You cannot coach it but you can coach anything to someone who has a passion for guiding. I cannot stress this more when it comes to this industry. After this, you look for knowledge, communication, presentation, responsibility, etc etc. But these can all be coached if the guide has the passion to learn and change their attitude. 

Jun 6, 5:05PM EDT0
Do you recommend any guidebooks or apps for tourists traveling to Cape Town?
Jun 4, 6:05PM EDT0

I recommend you read travel articles written by locals. Some of the international publications get things horribly wrong which do not go down well with local guides. Your best option is to speak to me a living guide on info@wildthingsoutdoor.co.za and also check out our social media links on this feed. 

Jun 6, 5:02PM EDT0
What's on the horizon for you in 2018 and beyond?
Jun 3, 4:56PM EDT0

I am starting overnight tours in the Western Cape province in addition to cultural and nature tours around Cape Town. Check out my Instagram @wildthingsadventures for pictures of places I have been exploring. 

Jun 6, 5:00PM EDT0
Can you name three things about why travel is essential in a person's life?
Jun 3, 1:45PM EDT0

Knowledge, Independence, Acceptance 

Jun 3, 2:45PM EDT0
If you don't know anything about it, how hard is it to learn snowboarding?
Jun 3, 1:40PM EDT0

Depends on your co-ords. Haha. It took me a good day to stand up. A few years to master. 

Jun 3, 2:44PM EDT0
Which of the following do you think starts more wildfires each year? lightning or humans?
Jun 2, 2:49AM EDT0

Both start fires around Cape Town. In the urban-wildland interface, human negligence is often the cause 

Jun 3, 2:43PM EDT0
Are you a flight or fight kind of man when confronted with danger? What’s the first survival skill you ever learned in bushcraft?
Jun 1, 7:36PM EDT0

I am a fighter. First survival skill is to be prepared. Do not get yourself in a life or death situation. 

Jun 3, 2:42PM EDT0
What are the tools of the trade? Obviously there aren’t any fire hydrants in the forest, so what do you and your crew need to do your jobs effectively?
Jun 1, 2:24PM EDT0

We use hand tools. Mainly beaters, rake hoes, saws and nap sacks (water backpacks). We get water via fire engines and 4x4 vehicles with pumps and hoses if near roads otherwise helicopters and aeroplanes drop water from above where vehicles cannot go. 

Last edited @ Jun 1, 4:35PM EDT.
Jun 1, 4:33PM EDT0
Do you think that wildland fires should be allowed to burn if human life and property are not threatened?
May 31, 8:18PM EDT0

The Cape Floral Kingdom is a fire-driven ecosystem so theoretically yes. However, you also have to bear in mind that some areas of vegetation may be too young to burn having only burn a few years ago. If a fire sweeps through, It is important to protect this vegetation as its destruction could lead to the extinction of species of plants and it also has an effect on the water table as this type of vegetation (Fynbos) is a water conservator. 

Jun 1, 6:23AM EDT0
How do you market your services as a start up company?
May 31, 3:06AM EDT1

The first thing I did was make my online presence known. Business directories, SEO, Social Media. I then approached online agents such as Trip Advisor, Air BnB, Get Your Guide etc. They have access to massive numbers of people. One could argue that AMA is also a platform that you can use to create brand awareness.  I have attended trade shows and joined tourism organizations. I have spent some time getting to know my colleagues and competitors. I have built relationships. It is all still ongoing but that's how I started. A few leads and now a whole lot. Marketing is still the business owners biggest challenge. You can be an expert in your trade but you also need to be an expert at finding customers. That's the hard part. 

May 31, 3:03PM EDT0
What was one of the most dangerous adventures you went on as a child, after school, and how did that experience affect you and your hiking?
May 30, 9:05PM EDT0

Hi Mayeth. My childhood experiences taught me about safety for sure. I was a wild child. Ended up in the ER multiple times with injuries of some sort. From fishing hooks in my ear to a brick on my foot, falling out of trees, stepping on thorns and nails, chopping my toe off. As a guide, my primary focus on trails is guests safety. I am now a qualified medic and am very cautious of our routes and always brief the guests on safety. So far I have a great record. Awareness and prevention is the biggest step towards mitigation. Still, I am normally the one to twist an ankle or something silly. The child never left me, I guess. Haha

May 31, 2:58PM EDT0
What do you think tourists love most about South Africa?
May 30, 7:51PM EDT1

The people. The friendly and diverse people. That is what brings them back for another visit. 

May 31, 2:17PM EDT0
How much notice do you require before tailoring a private tour for someone? What is the strangest request you've ever gotten from a client regarding the organization of a tour?
May 30, 7:14PM EDT0

Hi Arlene. It all depends on how many activities you want to do and what the season is. A lot of activities require planning and coordination so more than a week is preferable. However, in busy seasons that may not be enough time as places get booked fast. The best is to book in advance. For example, Whale Season is fast approaching. Those who book day trips now to see whales are much more likely to get onto decent boats at the time they would like. 

As for the strangest request..... Culturally, everyone is different. As a guide and tour operator, you are trained to respect all cultures and I love culture so am quite used to different requests surrounding accommodation and food.

On a moral regard, the strangest has been men asking for prostitutes. Sex tourism is a real sub-industry of tourism all over the world. 

May 31, 2:16PM EDT0
How has the nature of your business has changed and how does online bookings and the ability to do one's own research affect tourism companies?
May 30, 5:38PM EDT0

Hi Leora. I am not sure if I understand your question. How has the nature of my business changed? Well, I wouldn't say "nature" has changed as I started a few years back and was right into online marketing and building a reputation on Social Media, Trip Advisor and Get Your Guide. What has changed is I have more bookings since I started and also guest returns and referrals of their friends and family. I have time to build face to face connections and relationships. Word of Mouth is the most powerful marketing. In this regard, the power of Google and the internet definitely makes information more easily dispersed and helps with brand awareness, however, the true value is still in seeing my guests face to face and giving them a meaningful experience that you could not find online. I think tourism companies who can still master the face to face connection with people are the ones who get the return business. 

May 31, 2:09PM EDT0
What is your favourite South African food and what about this dish makes it uniquely South African?
May 30, 3:27PM EDT0

Being from Kwa-Zulu Natal, where there is the largest Indian population outside of India, I love curries, roti, butter chicken or "bunny chow". However, a traditional South African braai (BBQ) is always a win. A braai is standard among ALL South Africans and part of our heritage. 

May 30, 3:55PM EDT0
Having been in the tourism business for a while. Have you seen the other side of it as a tourist yourself? What places have you travelled to and what were your experience there?
May 30, 11:57AM EDT0

Yes indeed. I love to take tourist routes. I took the city sightseeing bus last month. I spend my free time in the mountains and in nature. I love new Wine Estates and Restaurants. My experience is beautiful scenery, diverse people and delicious food and wine. It is why I moved to Cape Town from elsewhere in South Africa. 

May 30, 3:51PM EDT0
What are some of the hiking trails that you recommend tourists go on and why those particular ones?
May 30, 11:30AM EDT0

Hi John. I recommend the trails on my website. Platteklip Gorge, India Venster, Lions Head, Woodstock Cave, Devils Peak, Skeleton Gorge, Tranquility Cracks and Chapmans Peak. These are the most accessible and safest for tourists and offer the best scenery. 

May 30, 3:47PM EDT0
What is included in the cost of your services? Do you offer discounts to large groups?
May 30, 8:43AM EDT1

Hi Sheena. What is included is a professional guide, transport, bottled water and entrance fees. Yes, I offer discounts for groups. 

May 30, 3:44PM EDT0

Do you accompany your clients on their adventures or do you just set them up with a program? What are your reasons for this?

May 30, 6:50AM EDT0

Hi Jaustria. I do both. It depends on the activity. I guide hikes on our nature reserves as well as driven tours to the Winelands and around the Cape Peninsula. Some activities are run by private or government bodies so I would let their guides take over. For example, if you were to go shark cage diving I would set you up with my trusted supplier. If you were to want to go up table mountain then I could take you myself.

May 30, 7:40AM EDT0

Do you plan to expand your business by opening up branches in other cities and possibly other countries? When do you plan on doing so?

May 30, 4:31AM EDT0

Hi Rhizzsy. "Start locally, think globally". At the moment my focus is on the Western Cape. As I expand my networks and build solid relationships I will think of expanding. 

May 30, 4:55AM EDT0
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