Matthew Court

Trainee Safari Specialist

Meet Matt, a trainee safari specialist.

a snapshot

After he’d finished school in Newcastle, Matt decided to live his dream of travelling to Africa. He joined a charity and moved to Uganda, spending a year working and teaching in the Butambala region. Since then he has worked throughout Uganda several times, taking volunteers to see gorillas and travelling to every East African country. 

Matt's Biography

Matt had always dreamed of living in Africa. His best friend’s family came from Ethiopia and his father told thrilling stories of lion encounters in the Serengeti, both inspiring a very keen interest in the continent from a young age. So, when a charity came to Matt’s school looking for volunteers to spend a year living in Uganda, he decided to defer his place at university and go for it!

In Uganda, Matt taught English and History at Kayenje Church of Uganda Primary School, and he also volunteered at the local hospital during his one-year project placement. He had ample opportunities to get to know all of Uganda, from climbing all three of the Virunga volcanoes as well as Mount Elgon to seeing his first lion in Queen Elizabeth N.P. and experiencing the first of many encounters with mountain gorilla in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest. Moreover, he managed to travel to every other country in East Africa and he hitch-hiked as far as Zambia and Victoria Falls.

Having returned to the UK, Matt attended university in York. During his degree years, he was lucky enough to travel to Cape Town and other destinations within South Africa, as well as to Ethiopia’s highlands and cultural sites with his best friend’s family. He also joined East African Playgrounds, first as a volunteer and then as Gorilla Trek Coordinator Intern. In the latter role, throughout the course of 2017, he had the time of his life leading groups of university volunteers through southern Uganda up to see gorillas in Bwindi. Additionally, he began volunteering with Modisa Wildlife Project in Botswana. With Modisa he learned all about game management, predator control, and conservation, and he took part in game captures and a vulture-nesting study. He was blown away by the unadulterated wilderness that is Botswana and has been back several times to volunteer, work on friends’ game farms, and extensively travel in the country.

My most memorable experience

There are several experiences to choose from my encounters with the mountain gorillas, as every interaction is so different and so intimate. On one occasion we were following the silverback and his group up the trail, with me at the back of my group of volunteers, when a female gorilla with an infant on her back began to follow me. We walked calmly together for several minutes, mere inches apart, before she disappeared off into the brush.

However, as cheesy as it sounds, one of my favourite things about Africa is the stunning night sky and the experience of watching the stars. One time in Botswana, I decided to head back to my tent having spent a lovely evening lying by the campfire and enjoying the roars of distant lions and the chattering of a nearby honey badger, punctuated by the occasional alarm call of a black-back jackal. In the darkness I could see very little, and it wasn’t until I was a few yards from it that I realised I had almost walked into a 700kg eland bull. The huge antelope was just as surprised as I was – he shot off in panic in one direction and I, equally startled, raced off in the other.

Matt's Top Lodges