Monika Hrdinova, nature photographer, was born in Czechoslovakia during the communist regime. Although her family had limited resources to travel, her father made a mobile-home car, Skoda 1203 – former funeral car, which was the family’s “home on the road”. Her father always took pictures of her and her sister and the places they visited – for Monika, this was the beginning of her love for travel and photography.
As a child, Monika dreamed of becoming a Veterinarian. She read the few books about Africa that were available in her native language, Czech, and had visions of going there and taking care of lions and cheetahs. However, not much support was given to her visions. “Who would dare to think about traveling to Africa when we couldn't even go to our neighboring Austria due to political situations?”
As a girl, she saw the movie, ‘Gorillas in the Mist’ and was excited and frustrated at the same time.
“I told myself that meeting gorillas is something that I can never experience.”
After graduating from Silesian University in 2004, Monika started working for an investment company managing mutual funds. With her own source of income, she took her first big trip to Uganda and Rwanda. She fell in love with Africa and had the chance to fulfill her childhood dream of seeing the mountain gorillas.
Currently, Monika runs a travel agency with her father and organizes tours to Croatia (part of former Yugoslavia). This job has been fulfilling as it allows her to work in the travel industry and to continue to discover the world. Since 2009, Monika has traveled to Iran, Madagascar, Democratic Republic of Congo, Borneo, the Philippines, Greece, Oman, and Namibia. She continues to upgrade her camera equipment and add new places to visit.
She has written articles/photo essays about her wildlife encounters which have been published in several Czech magazines. Her interest in photography ranges from taking macro photos of frogs and reptiles during night walks in the rain forests, to using her telephoto lens for African big five animals, to taking pictures of native people. She loves hiking and the “feeling of the wilderness in remote mountainous areas as well”.
Monika’s travels are not approached as just photo trips, “I want to get to know the country and its people as well”. She admits she has often been on a restricted budget so the conditions for taking photos are sometimes far from comfortable; but each destination is somehow “recorded under my skin and maybe this is the reason why I want to return back to everywhere”.