Love Through Adventure
Hello and welcome to Project Wild Earth! What follows is a little bit of our story which began back in 2011.
We met on a muddy river in a small farming village located in central Laos, Southeast Asia. Leah was making her way overland across South East Asia as part of a year-long trip around the world. Matt was driving an old London taxi around the world and up to Everest base camp as part of a World Record attempt in support of the British Red Cross. We were both in our 20s and so neither of us expected to meet “the one”. It was quite clear from our first meeting though that we had a connection that probably shouldn’t be ignored. After a series of short meetups over the next six months, it wasn’t long before we had come up with a plan…
We agreed to have a long-distance relationship, one where we would not be able to actually see each other for a whole year. Leah would be in the US and Matt would be in Australia. Both of us would undergo professional training in our respective fields. Once our training was complete, we’d meet in Hong Kong and move in together on arrival due to the cost of living there. All of our friends and family laughed at us and said “Good luck with that” “Nice idea” “Have you not heard of holiday romances?” etc.
We pushed forward and believe it or not… it worked! We built a great life for ourselves in Hong Kong over the next decade. Along the way, due to our joint love of adventure, travel, and nature, we managed to visit some of the most spectacular places on our planet and this has clearly had an impact on us!
We wanted to start a family and so we began to think about what the next chapter might look like. By the end of 2019, we had made plans to live on an organic farm with an Indonesian family we had built a strong connection with over the years. The farm was on an island in Indonesia where we would ultimately learn to live off the land. We thought this would be a great way for the kids to grow up and for us to reconnect more deeply with nature. Then the events of 2020 unfolded which turned everything upside down and the big question of what to do next returned once again. Our lives, our kids, our priorities, our dreams, our environment, our professions – everything was open for discussion. We were essentially starting from scratch again which is actually quite liberating but this time we had two small kids in tow. We discussed all sorts of options and countries we could go to but realised we had a unique window of opportunity with our kids’ ages and thought that if we were going to do something a bit wild as a family, now was the time to do it, before they started school, the other options could wait.
A bit of backstory – A day or so before we met in Laos, Matt had bumped into the Zapp family while on the Taxi trip. At the time, they had been on the road for thirteen years in their car. In that time, they had four children. The eldest of the children was eleven and all of them had been homeschooled as part of the journey. This wasn’t just any old car, this car was built in 1928 and had wooden wheels! We talked about this adventure soon after we met and from then on, the seed was planted – maybe one day we could do something similar. A few years later, we were reminded of our dream once again when we heard about Gunther Holtorf and his overland journey.
As we laid out all of our options, this idea to do an overland journey resurfaced once more and actually remained the strongest one that our hearts and guts were pulled towards. Even though this decision was definitely not the most sensible career or finance-wise, it felt right.
Through Our Connection to Nature – A Project was Born
We wanted the adventure to have meaning, purpose, and impact, especially if we were going to be on the road for a while. We also thought it would be fun to do a project together as a family. We looked at our lives and what really mattered to us, what we cared about the most deeply, and what the kids loved doing as well. Pulling all this together meant we were naturally drawn to – what could we do to help protect nature?
With the theme of protecting nature as our guiding light, it led us to conservation. We began to do some research into the global conservation ecosystem and identified who is doing what, where, and why. We also spoke to many people within the conservation world based on contacts we had built up over the years. We listened to their opinions and thoughts on the best way forward. From there we tried to identify where we could fit in so that what we were doing would have a lasting impact, and a fire within us had been lit. We wanted to do our bit and hopefully help create a ripple effect.
Even though we’re not professional conservationists, we didn’t want to let that stop us. We started to build an international network of partners which would allow us to support existing organisations and projects with a proven track record, thereby ensuring we would be efficient with our time and increase the impact we are able to have right from the get-go. We also hope this may serve as an opportunity for those people out there that want to help but don’t know how. This is when Project Wild Earth was born!
What you see on this website is what we’ve come up with so far, mainly focussing on storytelling based on Dr Jane Goodall’s belief that this is what really gets people to change from within.
We’ve now taken the leap and resigned from our main roles and sold everything in order to embark on this journey that not only connects us all but is bigger than us all. As this is a family overland trip, we will be in Jane, our INEOS Grenadier towing and living in a small Patriot X3 off-road trailer with a pop-up tent for the duration. We will also offset our entire journey through our membership and partnership with Mossy Earth. This will allow us to not only immerse ourselves in nature but to minimise our overall impact. Join us on our journey here. As with all projects of this nature, things will continually evolve over time and so we appreciate any input or ideas you may have.
Matt Prior served for six years in the British military which included flying Fast Jets and as an Overseas Expedition Leader. His passion for overland travel started as a teenager when he built a Series IIA Landrover with his father. Since then has embarked on numerous unsupported expeditions and travelled to over one hundred countries across six continents and ascended various famous peaks.
Matt has been flying for over two decades with 4500hrs+ experience globally. Over the years he has partnered with some of the top companies in the world on various projects and in his tech startup advisory role, he has worked with Founders from Google X, Google and Tesla. He has also conceived and led expeditions using the same technology NASA uses to explore Mars to find new species of dinosaurs (TBC), pioneered Experiential Research Expeditions (ERE) with AdventureX and ISA, and holds the World Record for the Highest Altitude Reached by Taxi – 17,143ft. Matt previously served as Director of The Explorers Club (Hong Kong Chapter) and as an Adventure Specialist for Red Bull.
He is currently the Co-Founder of AdventureX, Head of Partnerships and Innovation at the Iceland Space Agency, and is a qualified Commercial and Paramotor Pilot. He’s also a Wilderness First Responder and an Ambassador for Key Conservation. Matt has been featured by multiple media outlets for his overland expertise and willingness to push boundaries. www.mattprior.co.uk
Leah Prior’s curiosity led her to live and work abroad, originally from the US, for what she thought would only be a year, a decade later and she’s been to six continents and is still going! It was through these experiences abroad that she discovered her passion for education. Inspired by the world, she uses creativity and inquiry as a basis to foster student curiosity and engagement which ultimately develops lifelong learners.
Leah is passionate about rethinking education so that all children have the opportunity to thrive, so much so she actually helped to establish Sudbury Education Hong Kong, a cutting edge school that believes children are the architects of their own education.
Being informed on environmental issues and taking action towards a better world is something that is very close to her heart. She believes it is important to promote time in nature as a way for people to develop love and respect for our natural world which can lead to them making more conscious decisions that help to protect and preserve our beautiful planet.
Jack is almost three years old and was born in Hong Kong. He’s a lover of anything and everything transportation. He’s very likely to have some sort of car, truck, train or plane in hand when out and about. Jack is also very fond of animals, especially lions which are his favourite, you may even be lucky enough to get a roar out of him when you meet him.
He enjoys walking around exploring nature as long as he gets the odd snack along the way. Jack likes to be the joker of the family and is always making everyone smile! He loves his Mom and Dad but his favourite person is his sister, Charlotte.
Charlotte was born in the United States but has now lived on three different continents and she’s not even turned one yet! She was born with a full set of hair which has a mind of its own and generally likes to rest in a curly mohawk. She spends most of her day smiling, giggling and exploring.
She loves being outside in nature where she can experience all the different colours, sounds and textures. Although she might not have the words to communicate she has a repertoire of various sounds, the family favourite being her baby dinosaur squeal.