Matthew McConaughey Reveals How a Dream Inspired His Journeys to Africa and the Amazon

Matthew McConaughey has spoken about and written about his trips to The Amazon and to Africa. He went to the Amazon after A Time to Kill gave him a level of celebrity to which he had to adjust. Perhaps less is known about what inspired him to pick The Amazon and Africa as his destinations. McConaughey said he dreamed about them, or rather his dream combined them together. 

Matthew McConaughey wearing glasses
Matthew McConaughey | Isabel Infantes/PA Images via Getty Images

McConaughey was a guest on Danica Patrick’s Pretty Intense podcast discussing his autobiography Greenlights. He described the dream which he had to decipher to find his African and Amazonian vacations. 

Matthew McConaughey dreamed of a place that didn’t exist

McConaughey remembered a very vivid dream he had in 1992 and again in 1996. It was so vivid that the place in his subconscious does not exist on Earth

“As dreams go, I had what seemed to be a contradictory geography,” McConaughey told Patrick. “The two things I knew were that I was on the Amazon River and the banks of the river all the way out to the horizon was lined with African tribesmen.”

When he woke up, McConaughey double checked his dream.

Matthew McConaughey laughing
Matthew McConaughey | Nathan Congleton/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images

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“So I go to the Atlas of Africa looking for the Amazon River,” McConaughey said. “As you know, you can look forever and you’re not going to find it because it’s the wrong continent. The Amazon’s in South America but in my dream, those are the two things I know.”

Matthew McConaughey crossed off The Amazon after ‘A Time to Kill’

The second time McConaughey had the dream, he decided to do something about it. He had to pick one of his subconscious destinations, and decided to float down the Amazon river in 1996.

“I come back, I fulfilled the dream,” McConaughey said. “A lot of what’s in the book came from the journals I kept on that trip. Great. Now, cut to ‘99, three years later, I have the exact same dream again, frame for frame, same outcome. I wake up going, ‘Okay, whoa, this must be meaning that I need to chase the second half of the dream which were the African tribesmen.’”

Choosing his African destination

The dream gave McConaughey a destination in South America, the Amazon River. The dream didn’t tell him where the tribesmen were from in Africa. So, he came up with his own criteria.

“After a couple days sitting around just going, ‘Let it come to you, figure it out,’ I was listening to one of my favorite musicians, Ali Farka Toré and going, ‘Oh, he’s African. Where’s he from?’” McConaughey said. “Pulled up the liner notes, found out he’s from Niafunké, Mali. I’m like, ‘There’s my coordinate. I’m going to go find Ali and see where the trip takes me.’”

Matthew McConaughey in a purple shirt outside
Matthew McConaughey | James Devaney/GC Images

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McConaughey flew into Bamako and hitchhiked to a trading post. He found someone who spoke English and asked him to guide him.

“Next day we were on a boat headed up river,” McConaughey said. “Four days later, found Ali. I don’t know where to go now. The only point on the map I had was to come find him. Now I found him and we had lunch together and hung out. Then it was over. I go, ‘What do I do now? The guy goes, ‘There’s a place I think you need to see.’ I took his lead, we went further up north and went hiking through the Bandiagara for another 18 days. That finished off that dream. I have not had the dream again.”

Matthew McConaughey went back to Africa once more

McConaughey had satisfied his dream, but he had such a good experience in Mali, he went back again. His 2004 trip was just for him.

“I did go back to Mali unannounced,” McConaughey said. “Showed up on that guide, my friend now, showed up at his door five and a half years later and said, ‘Let’s do the same trip.’ We went back and saw all the same villages where all the kids were five and a half years older. Every adult I met was five and a half years older and did the exact same trip for 22 days.”

What brought McConaughey back to Mali if it wasn’t another dream?

“Because that’s the place I felt more at home than anywhere I’ve ever felt,” he said. “That place baselines me more than anywhere else.”

Source: Danica Patrick Pretty Intense podcast