Travel Bloggers of the Month: Mountain IQ
Meet Mountain IQ who have been selected as the Travel Bloggers of the Month! Mark and Mila are an international travel couple (he was born in Cape Town and she is from St Petersburg) who love sharing their mountain trek adventures. They hope to prepare other hikers by providing them with comprehensive online guides to the most popular mountain destinations around the world.
Why is Lithuania their best-hidden gem? And which other destinations, besides going to the Arctic on a polar bear tour, are on their bucket list? Get to know these adventurous travelers and their best travel tips in the interview.
1. Hi Mila! Tell us a little bit more about yourself?
I co-run MountainIQ.com with my husband Mark. We’ve created this digital database of free guides for avid trekkers to get all the information they need to conquer their mountains safely.
We went to the same university and started our adventures around the world in 2013; a perfect timing some might think – travel blogging wasn’t yet mainstream, and we were in the right place in our lives to try it out, financially and philosophically. For us, traveling is not something we do; it’s more of a lifestyle.
It started very early. I was born in St Petersburg and lived in Europe until I turned 17, while Mark was born in Cape Town and also relocated frequently. This is why moving around never felt unusual to us – it’s the most natural state for our family (and a huge point of pride).
To make every year count, our goal is to always learn more through tough experiences together!
2. How did you become travel bloggers?
After uni, I worked in a very demanding agency servicing EU communications, many of which were truly global campaigns. When I toiled on the EU satellite launch, my working hours were 9-5: 9 am in Berlin till 5 pm in Chile.
Although these professional challenges were exciting, I realized that I could face similarly rewarding challenges and enjoy myself too, without having to work till 11 pm on Saturdays.
This is when Mark and I decided to try a different approach to life – not without the help of the at the time influential 4-Hour Work Week by Tim Ferris. We sold everything, reduced our possessions to two bags and moved to Vietnam to save on rent. This is where our travel blogging began.
For two years we kept spending our savings without much success in earning. So, although it was a great testing and bonding time for our relationship, our finances and professional aspirations were in dire straits.
Eventually, we did a few mountain treks around the world and realized we could help other hikers to prepare much quicker by sharing succinct and practical notes on various mountain hikes online. This is how we stumbled into blogging. Thankfully, the blog took off, and we are very proud of how many people it has already helped!
3. What is your ultimate dream destination?
Going to the only places on Earth without real governments, permanent population and WiFi is what most of us would find invigorating, right?
This June we were planning on going to the Arctic on a polar bear tour, but since I found out at the time that I was pregnant this exciting destination will have to wait until next summer. Next winter we are also hoping to go to Antarctica after a two-week trek in Patagonia.
Let’s hope our new family addition allows that. I’m very excited to start traveling as a family, which means facing new challenges – this is what makes us feel so alive.
4. Show us your three favorite travel photos…
Here we are on top of Mount Toubkal in Morocco. The entire trip was a dream: a perfect combination of immersion into the unfamiliar culture with its hammam baths, delicious Tagines, and sweet Moroccan teas, and inspiring nature with its gorgeous valleys and mighty mountains.
Diving in Thailand was totally frightening and magical!
Here I’m with an orphaned elephant, whose mother was murdered by poachers. This is a Knysna sanctuary in South Africa, where these babies get shelter and the care they need. By visiting the center and walking with them you can donate to help the staff keep the sanctuary running.
Here’s a truly hidden gem. After the Chernobyl series became such a hit and bloggers infiltrated the Ukrainian sights of this tragedy, I’d advise going to Lithuania instead.
The place called Ignalina Nuclear Plant is where a lot of the scenes were actually filmed and because there was never a tragedy here you can take Instagram photos without shameful guilt of violating people’s painful memories. You can book a tour in advance by emailing the administration.