Mark’s love affair with Africa started in 2004,
when he was midway through a master’s program in conservation education and moved to Uganda. The move spurred him to shift his research focus to visitor experiences and conservation messaging at Murchison Falls National Park. He quickly realized Uganda is a hidden gem in terms of tourism and threw his energy into helping more people experience the country’s wonders. He has since led trips, served as a technical advisor to a USAID-funded sustainable tourism project in the Albertine Rift, written guidebooks about three of Uganda’s national parks for the Uganda Wildlife Authority, and explored the country from top to bottom.
Mark grew up hiking and cross-country skiing in the nature preserves of the Midwest until his family moved to California. He began his undergraduate studies as a business psychology major at University of California Santa Cruz, but after taking a year off to bike solo down the California coast, travel Brazil, work in an Alaskan cannery and hike the Sierra Nevada, Mark returned to college as a Buddhist studies major who was deeply afflicted with wanderlust. After graduation, Mark spent a year in India and Southeast Asia before starting his guiding career in Alaska in 1995.
As a certified Alaska State Naturalist, he led sea kayaking, canoeing
and backpacking trips out of Juneau until he opened his own guide service on an island in Washington. Preferring to look at siskins instead of spreadsheets, after two years he sold his company to a new environmental education center and became a staff naturalist, leading kids’ programs, facilitating corporate sustainability retreats and teaching natural history and ecology to University of Washington graduate students. His travels over the years have taken him to Uganda, Rwanda, Kenya, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Mexico, Alaska, Brazil, Canada, Scotland, India, Nepal, Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Belgium, Germany, The Netherlands, Sweden, England, Turkey, and Honduras. Top on his bucket list are Antarctica, Madagascar, Botswana, Namibia, the Galapagos and China. Mark lives with his wife and two sons in Gold Hill, a tiny mountain town in the Front Range of Colorado.
Praise from Natural Habitat travelers:
"I could not be more pleased or impressed by our guide Mark. He was well organized, very sensitive to each guest's needs and diplomatic in addressing these. He was very accessible and generous with his time and attention. He was well informed about the wildlife, as well as geology, history, culture, and politics. Were the circumstance to arise, I would definitely seek him out as a leader on a subsequent trip."
"Mark loves what he does and it shows. He is a good addition to your team."
"Mark did an amazing job and I felt we were incredibly fortunate to have him as our expedition leader (particularly given the limited no. of excursions he guides each year). He is passionate about/committed to Uganda's development and extremely knowledgable about sustainable conservation efforts that are compatible with economic growth. Nat Hab is lucky to have him!"
S. & J. Jacobs
"Always pleasant. Very knowledgeable. Was especially encouraging and helpful on the gorilla trek which was very difficult for us."
"Mark was just plain excellent!"