Meet Matt, a YZ East Africa Specialist. From a Gorilla Trek Coordinator intern to working with wildlife projects, Matt’s experiences throughout Africa go hand in hand with the great work he has accomplished with the charities he's volunteered for.
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.
Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda.
Recent travel experience
Matt recently returned to Uganda to revisit all its greatest parks. As well as walking through Budongo Forest with chimpanzees, he saw the youngest gorilla baby in existence at the time (3 days old) in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest. He managed to fill in his last space on the Ugandan map but visiting the remote national park Kidepo Valley, where spotted cheetah and herds of buffalo that numbered in the thousands.
Matt's 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 favorite 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 realized 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 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.
"I booked my next trip to Africa with Matt at Yellow Zebra. I had used Matt for previous trip and the customer care was outstanding. YZ did a great job of answering questions (and there are a lot of them first time you go on safari) and getting me the documentation I needed. Using them for my next trip was a no brainer."
James - Uganda, August 2022
"Matt at Yellow Zebra was excellent. We changed our plans a fair few times and he was great at accommodating our wishes and planning a perfect trip for us."
Matt A. - Tanzania, August 2022
"I would like to thank Matt and the team at Yellow Zebra safaris for organising a fantastic trip for my family to Selous, Ruaha and Zanzibar. Even when we had a slight hiccup at Heathrow they were there to support us... Once again thank you very much, I’m sure I will be using you again for further trips"
"Yellow Zebra are genuine specialists; they know the African bush like the back of their hand."
Brian Jackman, safari expert for The Sunday Times, The Telegraph, Condé Nast, and the BBC
'Europe's Leading Safari Tour Operator' at the World Travel Awards
8 years in a row, since 2015
"Wies Van der Meer was very patient and answered all of our questions"
"Yellow Zebra excels at understanding our needs and proposing a fantastic itinerary. They take the uncertainty and confusion out of planning. They're super nice, easy to work with, and the trip we arranged them to Southern Africa in 2018 was flawless. We've now planned a 2024 trip through Yellow Z..."
"I haved worked with YZ 2 years in the past and am planning another trip for 2024. Emma has been responsible and flexible as needed. She provides good information and advice based on her travel experiences."
"Olivia was great at listening to my specific requests. It truly is a designed for your wants and needs tour.
The follow-up information regarding travel insurance, visas etc was top notch. You feel very prepared for your trip!"
"I have been delighted with the planning process of our Yellow Zebra African Safari in Botswana. Our travel specialist, Wies Van Der Meer, East Africa manager, was enthusiastic, helpful and informative. His vast knowledge of Africa provided valuable information and perspective about the areas bes..."