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Hidden Compass is not a travel magazine telling you what to buy or where to take a selfie. It’s a place to find courage and curiosity. Our stories are rooted in travel. But venture deeper, and you’ll find more.

Inspired by the farm-to-table movement, we make journalism personal. We’re forging an alliance to turn storytellers and explorers into heroes and champion a new age of discovery. Not only will you meet the people behind our stories, you’ll be able to support each of them directly. Learn about our fundraising model here.

Our grassroots movement supports the spectacular. Every year, a quarter to a third of our stories are recognized as some of the world’s best travel features. And it’s no wonder: These are stories that seduce the mind and spirit. They unravel the world — then sew it back together.

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You’re helping create a sustainable future for journalism. Every Hidden Compass story is published alongside a fundraising campaign. 50% of proceeds support Hidden Compass, and 50% go directly to each storyteller — on top of their pay. Every dollar brings us closer to a future that recognizes and honors the partnership between journalists, publications, and you. Look how much we’ve raised so far!

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Explore the Latest Issue

Autumn 2021

Riddles of Devotion

A Note From the Editors

Every journey begins with a puzzle. Some quandaries captivate the mind, coaxing us into labyrinths of introspection. Other inquiries launch far-reaching missions. What compels us forward can prove as perplexing as the terrain we encounter. In the autumn 2021 issue of Hidden Compass, we bring you riddles of devotion — stories that delve into…

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Painting by Scott Denholm.
Painting by Scott Denholm.
Painting by Scott Denholm.
Painting by Scott Denholm.
Autumn 2021

Riddles of Devotion

A Note from the Editors

Every journey begins with a puzzle. Some quandaries captivate the mind, coaxing us into labyrinths of introspection. Other inquiries launch far-reaching missions. What compels us forward can prove as perplexing as the terrain we encounter.

In the autumn 2021 issue of Hidden Compass, we bring you riddles of devotion — stories that delve into curiosity and seek to decipher meaning.

The River Has No Hair — koan, or cautionary tale? That’s the enigma at the heart of J.R. Patterson’s Time Travel exploits along Brazil’s snaking São Francisco River. In pursuit of 19th-century explorer Richard Francis Burton’s legacy, Patterson probes the waterway’s past and present while navigating perceptions and reality, obstructions and guidance.

Thousands of miles to the north, Lauren Napier faces fenced-off histories in her Quest to access the truth of Camp Naco and the Buffalo Soldiers stationed there during the Mexican Revolution. From this crumbling adobe outpost, she traces sometimes overlapping Lines of Duty along the desert roads of Arizona and the fertile byways of Virginia, encountering variations on enslavement and the promise of presence.

Also searching for understanding, semi-professional dancer Megan Taylor Morrison follows her passion for Lindy Hop and jazz dance to the West African country of Guinea, where lessons in doundounba, the dance of the strong man, await. Her Portrait of Africa’s first national dance company, Les Ballets Africains, moves to the beat of the djembe drum and balafon, revealing a call and response pulsing with cultural resilience and adaptation. From the stage to the streets, she depicts a tireless tradition of Roots in Motion.

Balancing risk and impulse, Cherene Sherrard carries The Weight of Paradise into the surf. Her Chasing Demons feature rides a wave of racially informed limitations and historic precedent, buoyed by the spirit of Mami Wata and the literary voices of Jesmyn Ward and Toni Morrison. The peril and possibility of boundless freedom saturates the accompanying paintings by Scott Denholm.

In his Human & Nature photo feature, Olivier Guiberteau documents his shifting perception of shinrin-yoku, the Japanese practice of forest-bathing. After more than a year of edification — both inadvertent and intentional, anecdotal and academic — he arrives at A Clearing in the Forest.

As always, we extend our deepest gratitude to our readers, who share our vision of powerful storytelling, and to our contributors, who bring us stories from the frontiers of exploration.

Until the next voyage,

Katie Knorovsky, Managing Editor

Sabine K. Bergmann and Sivani Babu, Hidden Compass Co-Founders

Read Past Stories

Meet Your Heroes

This Issue’s Featured Journalists and Storytellers
Buckaroo Portrait, Photo by: Kim F. Stone

Find your story.

Choose a Theme to Explore
Journey alongside characters in pursuit of elusive truths. Travel through extreme landscapes, to the far reaches of the planet, and into the unknown.
Get to know extraordinary characters from around the world — individuals, cultures, places, creatures, and even objects.
Investigate the relationship between humankind and the planet. Come face-to-face with Nature as an unpredictable danger, a wise teacher, and a precarious organism.
Delve into the dark and difficult aspects of a place, even when the darkness exists only in the narrator. Investigative pieces, historical exposés, and tales of narrators immersed in danger.
Inhabit the past, present, and future of a place. Unearth layers of ancient legends and traditions; probe the transient nature of the current moment; and venture out into prediction, peril, and possibility.

Photo: Dr. Gilad Fiskus

Photo: Sivani Babu

Photo: Kim F. Stone

Photo: Sivani Babu

Photo: Sugato Mukherjee

Photo: Geraint Rowland

Find your story.

Choose a Theme to Explore

Photo: Sivani Babu

01

Quest

Journey alongside characters in pursuit of elusive truths. Travel through extreme landscapes, to the far reaches of the planet, and into the unknown.

Photo: Sivani Babu

Buckaroo Portrait, Photo by: Kim F. Stone

Get to know extraordinary characters from around the world — individuals, cultures, places, creatures, and even objects.

Photo: Kim F. Stone

Investigate the relationship between humankind and the planet. Come face-to-face with Nature as an unpredictable danger, a wise teacher, and a precarious organism.

Photo: Sivani Babu

Delve into the dark and difficult aspects of a place, even when the darkness exists only in the narrator. Investigative pieces, historical exposés, and tales of narrators immersed in danger.

Photo: Sugato Mukherjee

Inhabit the past, present, and future of a place. Unearth layers of ancient legends and traditions; probe the transient nature of the current moment; and venture out into prediction, peril, and possibility.

Photo: Geraint Rowland