be damned.

Something was missing. We both knew it. Maybe you do, too. We could spend hours surfing the internet and end up feeling empty.

But something was tugging at us. Maybe it’s tugging at you, too. Don’t be afraid. Let it pull you where it wants you to go: North. South. East. West. Down the rabbit hole …

What are you heading towards?

How will you know when you’ve arrived?

… you’re already here.

Welcome to Hidden Compass.

Where we challenge the notion that readers only want mindless, clickable content.

Hidden Compass is for the journalist chasing big questions, complex connections, and meaningful exploration. It is for the reader hunting profound stories that immerse, inspire, and inform. It is for anyone aching for substance and longing to celebrate collective human endeavor.

Here, the nuance of the world is within reach. Hold on to it …

Hidden Compass is the antidote to clickbait.

How It Works

Explore the model and support the mission.



Start by reading our stories with no ads or paywalls blocking your exploration.



Go behind the scenes and meet the storytellers.



Share and contribute to the journalist’s patronage campaign.



The next adventure awaits! Subscribe to Hidden Compass.

  • “One thing I really appreciated about working with Hidden Compass is that it is a space where there is time for nuance and complexity. By donating, that is also what you’re supporting…”

    -Anna Polonyi , Author of “Proving the Love of Rosa Bonheur”

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  • “I have found as a freelance writer that it is getting harder to tell these stories that aren’t about the topics that people are talking about all the time…”

    -Allison Torres Burtka , Author of “Beyond the Waves”

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  • “The money is one thing but really thank you for feeling that the story is important enough that you wanted to contribute.”

    -Mike Bernhardt , Author of “The Tides of War”

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Ally Testimonials

“Hidden Compass continues to deliver intriguing, thought provoking content with every issue. Their commitment to primary research coupled with creative storytelling is not easily found today.”


“In an industry full of hot takes, quick hits, and roundups, it’s refreshing to have an organization like Hidden Compass support adventurous journalism and exploration.”


“I don’t just go to Hidden Compass to hop around and glance at a few things. I plan my time to go and sit down and read and digest and think about what that writing says and how it makes me feel. It’s a very intentional, deliberate, time-intensive act and that’s really pleasurable.”


Awards & Recognition

When we founded Hidden Compass in July 2017, we were just journalists who got together in an empty San Francisco café and vowed to push the boundaries of the travel genre. At that moment, we had no idea what lay ahead. But since then, we’ve caused a bit of a stir and surprised a lot of people — including ourselves.
Our Contributors Are Also Featured In
March 2024:

In a Hidden Compass first, our inaugural Pathfinder Prize team’s short documentary, In Tété’s Footsteps, was nominated for Best Documentary Short at the Cannes World Film Festival! It is also an official selection at the New York International Film Awards and the North Film Festival.

In the 2024 Solas Awards competition, presented by “Best Travel Writing” publishing house Travelers’ Tales, four Hidden Compass stories won gold and bronze awards. Winners included “The Tides of War” by Mike Bernhardt, “The Time of the Painters” by Craig K. Collins, “A Tempest of Dread at the End of the World” by Ellen Murray, “Mayday at the Bottom of the World” by Jane Ellen Stevens.

March 2023:

In the 2023 Solas Awards competition, presented by “Best Travel Writing” publishing house Travelers’ Tales, nine Hidden Compass stories won gold, silver, and bronze awards, including the grand prize. The winning stories represented 45% of the stories we published during the award year and more than 80% of eligible stories (stories must be written by U.S. residents to be considered). Cherene Sherrard took home grand prize gold for her story, “The Weight of Paradise.” Winners also included “The New Ascensionists” by Kang-Chun Cheng, “Pteropods in the Balance” by Laine Gonzales, “Lines of Duty” by Lauren Napier, “Enduring the Promised Land” by Shoshi Parks, “Beyond the Lid of the World” by Amanda Castleman, “Finding Valentina” by Melinda Misuraca, “Only the Stones Remain” by Rebecca Deurlein, and “Roots in Motion” by Megan Taylor Morrison.

December 2022:

Paul Fischer’s story, “Gazawood Dreams” was selected by Longreads as one of the five Best Features of 2022. His story was named alongside stories from The New Yorker, the Walrus, Los Angeles Magazine, and Esquire.

March 2022:

In the 2022 Solas Awards competition, presented by “Best Travel Writing” publishing house Travelers’ Tales, seven Hidden Compass stories won gold, silver, and bronze awards. The winning stories represented 35% of the stories we published during the award year and more than 40% of eligible stories (stories must be written by U.S. residents to be considered). Winners included, “Honor and the Sea” by Janna Brancolini, “The Medusa of Time” by Daniel Hudon, “Eroded Myths” by Robert Annis, “Blue in Toulouse” by Moriah Costa, “A Spark of Hope” by Michele Bigley, “The Alchemy That Binds” by Cecilia Hae-Jin Lee, and “No Dog Is an Island” by Richard Pallardy.

October 2021:

“When the World is Withdrawn” by Sivani Babu was listed as a Notable Mentions in the 2021 edition of the Best American Travel Writing. The story took its place alongside pieces from the Atlantic, the New YorkerSmithsonian Magazine, and the New York Times Magazine.

August 2021:

Hidden Compass was named a finalist in Newsweek magazine’s Future of Travel Awards, which “highlight those who are creating a travel industry for the future—one that’s more adaptable, sustainable, responsible, innovative and inclusive.”

March 2021:

In the 2021 Solas Awards competition, presented by “Best Travel Writing” publishing house Travelers’ Tales, eight Hidden Compass stories won gold, silver, and bronze awards. The winning stories represented 40% of the stories we published during the award year. Winners included, Alexandria Scott’s “Wade in the Water,” Hayli Nicole’s “People of the Forest,” Sivani Babu’s “When the World is Withdrawn,” Sabine K. Bergmann’s “Awakening the Canopy,” Jacqueline Kehoe’s “The First and Final Days of Denali,” Martha Ezell’s “Journey of a Golden Soul,” Kelsey Camacho’s “Old Clocks,” and Sonya Pevzner’s “Sweet as Challah.”

December 2020:

Two Hidden Compass stories were listed as Notable Mentions in the 2020 edition of the Best American Travel Writing. Hayli Nicole‘s “People of the Forest,” and Chase Nelson‘s “Dark Train to Cusco” were listed alongside stories from the New YorkerSmithsonian Magazine, and the New York Times Magazine.

Ocotber 2020:

Love in a Time of Abundance” by Amanda Castleman won a silver Lowell Thomas Award from the Society of American Travel Writers. Amanda and her story took their places alongside legendary travel writer Pico Iyer and stories from the New York Times, BBC, and Smithsonian Magazine.

Two of our stories were selected for volume 12 of the Best Women’s Travel Writing. “Wade in the Water” by Alexandria Scott and “Our Ravaged Lady” by Erin Byrne were published in the anthology alongside stories from ViceSierraAFAR, and Smithsonian Magazine.

March 2020:

In the 2020 Solas Awards competition, awarded by “Best Travel Writing” publishing house Travelers’ Tales, our stories won Grand Prize Gold, Silver, and Bronze for best travel stories of the year — as well as three category awards and one honorable mention. An honorable mention also went to a story that first made its appearance in one of our workshops.

August 2019:

In 2019, our first year of consideration, two of our stories were recognized as Notable Mentions in the Best American Travel Writing series! Sivani Babu’s “Ice Bear” and Annelise Jolley’s “Trick of the Light” took their places alongside stories from the New Yorker, National Geographic Traveler, Outside, and the New York Times.

March 2019:

In the Solas Awards competition alone we won Gold, Silver, and Bronze prizes — as well as three Honorable Mentions — for our stories.


30% of our stories won travel writing awards.

About Our Founders

Powerful storytelling and oral traditions meet nuanced ideas and boundless exploration.

Sabine was once stranded in the Bolivian Andes during a period of political unrest. She discovered the power of storytelling by seeking out keepers of the oral traditions passed down through millennia of indigenous Quechua history.

Sivani tabled a career as a public defender to sail across the most brutal sea on earth. She spent weeks exploring Antarctica by boat and on foot, all the while writing, photographing, and pursuing stories to bring home.

They met one day at a bookstore and connected over the lack of substance in travel media. Where was the nuance? Where were the challenging ideas? They weren’t interested in the mass-produced content that bombards us daily and they knew they weren’t alone.

That’s why they founded Hidden Compass, a place for stories of exploration — stories that make us question what we think we know, transport us to places we’ve never been, and kindle a fire for us to stoke.

Sivani Babu and Sabine K. Bergmann, Hidden Compass co-founders.

 Sivani Babu and Sabine K. Bergmann, Hidden Compass co-founders.

Meet Our Team


Sivani Babu

Co-founder / CEO


Sabine K. Bergmann

Co-founder / COO

Woman with long hair holding a container of strawberries in front of a canal with a rowboat and old buildings in the background.

Nicolette Holmes

Alliance Relations Manager + Digital Marketing Manager


Katie Knorovsky

Editor at Large


Pier Nirandara

Storyteller in Residence


Marisa Larson


Headshot of a young woman in front of the coast.

Vivian Randall

Submissions Manager


Liz Shemaria

Founding Editor

Sivani Babu


Sivani Babu is the co-founder, co-CEO, and creative director of Hidden Compass. She is an award-winning journalist and nature photographer who has contributed to BBC Travel, CNN, Backpacker, Outdoor Photographer, Iron Horse Literary Review,and numerous other publications. Her work has been recognized in the Best American Travel Writing series and has appeared in exhibits from San Diego to the Sorbonne. Sivani graduated from the University of Chicago with three majors — economics, public policy studies, and political science — and one Lazarused newspaper, the Chicago Weekly News. At the University of Pennsylvania Law School, she taught high schoolers about their constitutional rights. As a Teach for America corps member, she taught eighth graders about the tangency of math and literacy. After working on a Supreme Court case and occasionally using unicorn metaphors to explain the realities of sentencing to hundreds of indigent criminal defendants, Sivani left her career as a federal public defender to sail across the most brutal sea on earth. Since then, she has chased storms through Tornado Alley, searched for polar bears in the Arctic Circle, and survived a broken neck and a concussion while sailing through a lightning storm in the Bermuda Triangle. Sivani is working on her first book, Saving the Night: Shedding Light on the Importance of Darkness.

Job Openings

We’re a small but quickly growing company. Occasionally, we have openings for new full- and part-time staff members. Check back again for job listings.

Digital Marketing Manager

Foster an online community of badass nerds by building and managing the social media presence of Hidden Compass.

Digital Marketing Manager

Editorial Director — Full Time

Helm our quarterly, award-winning magazine on exploration — our pride and joy — which is the doorway through which we invite tens of thousands of readers each year to step and join our movement.

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Membership Coordinator — Part Time (10 hrs/wk)

Support pioneering members of Hidden Compass’s modern society of exploration — The Alliance — as we build a community that celebrates discovery.

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Managing Editor — Part Time (20 hrs/wk)

Shepherd stories from concept to completion for our award-winning quarterly magazine on exploration.

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