Co-Pilot Spotlight: Ulyana Nadia Horodyskyj
The Co-Pilot Spotlight navigates into the minds and experiences of travel professionals and professional travelers. Join us in the cockpit with Ulyana Nadia Horodyskyj, CEO of Science in the Wild.
OTPYM: What is Science in the Wild?
ULYANA: Science in the Wild aims to make science accessible for anyone with the curiosity to learn more about the planet’s changing landscapes. What we’re creating goes beyond data collection – we are all about teaching people how to think and experience the wild #likeascientist.
Where was the first place you ever traveled?
My parents took my brothers and me to Europe. I was six years old and experienced my first mountain – Jungfrau in Switzerland, which is nearly 14,000 ft. high. I was hooked!
Where is the last place you visited?
I recently completed expeditions in South America with Science in the Wild – climbing Aconcagua in Argentina (22,841 ft.) and Ojos del Salado, the world’s highest active volcano (22,615 ft.), in the Atacama Desert of Chile.
Where is next for you?
Our next expedition will be to Kilimanjaro (19,341 ft.) in Tanzania, Africa, via a northern approach. It’s a great starter mountain for people interested in climbing with us, while also learning science. Science at altitude can be quite challenging! This will be experiential learning at its best.
Why do you choose to travel?
I was raised with it from a very young age – so there definitely was some imprinting! One could say I’m addicted to it in some ways. I love learning about other cultures first-hand, trying new foods, and having immersive (non-touristy!) experiences.
How has travel helped to define your world view?
The more I travel, the more I realize how similar we all are. We want the same basic things in life – healthy food, clean water and a place to sleep. It’s sad how in many countries, these necessities aren’t accessible. I’ve seen some of the happiest people in some of the poorest countries. We, as Americans, could learn a lot from that. Joy in life comes from experiences and sharing them with the people we love, not in excess material goods. The less we use, the healthier our planet becomes – for everyone’s benefit.
Where is the favorite place you’ve traveled and why?
Iceland has captured my heart! The land of fire and ice, at the edge of the Arctic Circle, draws adventurous souls – mine included. When I first traveled there, I knew it wouldn’t be enough to visit just once. It’s a place where I felt safe, happy, and free to explore.
When on your travels have you felt the most out of your comfort zone?
I’m pretty used to being uncomfortable! Though, I’d say when solo trekking – sometimes it’s inevitable –as a Western blond female, it can attract unwanted attention and that can be challenging to deal with.
Who is the most interesting person you have ever met while traveling?
A nomad couple passing through the Khumbu region of the Nepalese Himalaya. What really impressed me was not only their travel stories from around the world, but that they also were caretakers of the planet. While on the trails, they had been picking up garbage the whole way. I witnessed this firsthand when they came into a local teahouse, bags filled.
What is the most adventurous food you have tried while on the road?
Of what I could identify, that would be kangaroo tail and crocodile.
What’s the next trend in travel?
I think active and adventure trips, as well as trips with purpose, are really taking off. And I think that’s part of the reason we’re getting people signed up for Science in the Wild trips. Why just trek and climb when you can learn the history of the landscape, how it’s changing, and how you can be a part of the solution, not problem, with your travels. Meet the locals, hear their stories, help us help them figure out ways to adapt in a changing climate.
Any funny anecdotes from the road?
I could write a book on this! Once in Nepal (ok, not just once…), I ate something that didn’t agree with me and was sitting in the back of the bus, feeling pretty sick. I couldn’t speak Nepali very well yet so it took a lot of hand gestures to get the point across that I needed the bus to please stop – right away! Then, when we pulled over, I climbed onto the roof to dig out my bag and find my medicine!