Chelsey threw caution to the wind and set off travelling right out of university. It was decided that exploring the world sounded like a much better option than attempting to become an adult & get a “real job”. Upon leaving her small home city on the East coast of South Africa,her first ever international flight took her to Thailand, which became just one of the countries that she would call home over the next 7 years.

After some added adventures & travel shenanigans, she spent a year living in South Korea, where she witnessed the magic of “Gagnam Style” first hand & also escaped the dangerous game of Dong-Chim. Eventually she then headed back to the west- to London, where she was to build on her teaching career. However, her passion for travelling led her into the world of travel tech start ups & at the beginning of 2016 she followed her heart back to Africa.

She decided to sail the more adventurous tides in Cape Town & it was here, that she began to lay the groundwork for Led by Locals, a platform of themed city tours that are designed & led by local guides. Chelsey enjoys all things related to History. As she still does not own a car, she can be found wandering through the city, meeting its people, making friends with other local guides & creating new tours that capture the essence of the Mother City.

An Africa woman making crafts in Cape Town.Tell us about what led to starting this experiential travel company. What need did you see in the market?

When I got to Cape Town, I started to understand that there was a need for tours that didn’t just clump all of the ‘touristy’ information & attractions together. Secondly, there was a need for more local platforms that could do more than just sell tours, but rather to uplift the community, & to empower local guides. These were the starting points for the concept of Led By Locals.

There was also something so fulfilling about connecting with local guides & the people of the city, that I genuinely felt that they should have a more direct hand in not only leading, but designing tours based on their knowledge & expertise of the city. In my view, their lived knowledge, skills & passions could add an invaluable element to tours on offer in Cape Town.

As a new venture, how do the experiences you offer at Led by Locals give guests a unique perspective on the history, people or culture of your region?

Each experience is led by a local guide who has that advantage of having an insiders perspective of Cape Town. Their personal insight & knowledge forms a major element of each tour, & encourages a broader understanding of the city, its history & people.

Bo-Kaap Cape Town Houses - Led By Locals
Bo-Kaap Cape Town Houses

How does the company philosophy, and in turn the experiences that you offer, align with your personal interests and passions?

My passion is travel. I travel to learn & to connect with others. Led by Locals embodies this philosophy of knowledge & connection. Each each tour is an opportunity for travelers to learn about Cape Town & to connect with its incredible people.

What is one detail the experiences you provide that may go unnoticed by guests, but which you feel is important?

Being that we are all about promoting meaningful travel experiences in Cape Town, we are also very much about the upliftment of the community. In booking a tour with us, you’re supporting a business built by local guides who directly benefit. The areas covered on our tour routes also highlight & promote other small businesses in the city. Take note of these gems.

Philippa - Local Guide
Philippa runs Cape Town, & encourages others to run it too. She has developed the concept of ‘running tours’ which she explains as “sightseeing on the run”. By combining her love of foreign languages, travel & culture with her passion for running, she now guides visitors who are keen on a more active types of Cape Town tours.

What do you wish every guest knew as they consider participating in the experiences you offer?

Each tour has been personally crafted from scratch. We spend the majority of our time snooping around new places in the city & researching as much as we can to improve the content of each tour. If you already know the basic info of this country, you will definitely be taken a step further, so be sure to keep an open mind.

What is one piece of clothing or equipment guests should have to maximize their enjoyment of the experiences you offer?

Cape Town weather goes through four seasons in one day, so removable layers are a staple. Since most of our tours are on foot, comfy shoes are a must…Also, a camera to capture your moments of happy feels.

Smile Like a Local
Smile Like a Local

What is one travel trend that really excites you?

Nice question! It’s the D.I.Y travel wave. By this I mean that more people are bypassing travel agents & designing their own travel itineraries. With the constant development of travel apps, it is so easy to do things your own, especially for solo travelers. The whole “Air bnb-Uber generation” as I like to call it, brings with it a refreshing, independent way to travel & to get around.

What is one insiders tip to getting the most out of an experiential travel vacation?

Walk, walk & walk some more…

This is probably the best insiders tip to really immersing yourself into a new environment. There is so much that can be discovered in a city by going by foot, but in doing so please always be mindful of your whereabouts & respectful of those around you. Go out, meet some locals, ask them about some activities that are worth doing. Local advice is golden & when you come to Cape Town, why not come come walking with us?

Camps Bay, Cape Town
Exploring Camps Bay by motorcycle, cruising on a vintage WWII sidecar motorcycle.

What has been one of the biggest hurdles you have faced in launching this experiential travel company?

Having too many ideas at once and loosing focus…

What is one personal habit that has helped you to be successful?

I remind myself to get the most out of my losses as I can. The losses are there to wake you up and to remind you of what you want so that you get get back on track. Also, remember to always encourage & support your peers!

Led By Locals on Facebook:
Led By Locals on Instagram:
Led By Locals Twitter:
Led By Locals on Whatsapp: +27 61 354 3286
Led By Locals on Twitter:

TravelDew is a community based platform for leaders in experiential travel from around the world. Through our interviews we honor the variety of this industry while simultaneously creating the opportunity to learn from one anther.