In the many years, I’ve been doing the Traveler Tuesday series I’ve met lots of travel bloggers with very interesting niches, I have to say that I think that Margarita of probably has one of the coolest, wild cats. Not a cat person by nature, although my beloved cat Jessica did change that for the 15 years she was with us, still, I got sucked into article after article on Margarita’s site and was fascinated by reading about the many species of wild cats in the world.
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Let’s meet Margarita!
 When and how did you become a traveler?
I started traveling long before I became a traveler. I grew up in Russia, and through circumstance, I spent a few years in China and then settled in Australia.
None of that, however, prepared me to my first independent trip – a backpacking adventure to India to see tigers in the wild. In the first few days in Delhi, I went through such an intense culture shock, that if it wasn’t for my obsession with tigers, I might have thrown in the towel.
Thankfully I didn’t, and after the initial adjustment period, I had a life-changing trip. Seeing wild tigers in Kanha National Park had such a profound effect on me, that I decided to embark on a quest to see all species of wild cats in their natural habitat. It was one of those defining moments that mark the starting point of the rest of your life.
 What kind of traveler do you define yourself as?
Most of my travel revolves around looking for wild things in wild places. I guess this makes an adventure traveler. I enjoy traveling to ‘off the beaten path’ destinations, which is generally where the wildlife is.
 Which country do you come from/call home?
I feel myself to be both, Russian and Australian, in equal measure.
 What do you crave from home when you are traveling?
Many of my trips involve spending a lot of time in the field. And while I love being outdoors, it often means dealing with scorching heat, suffocating humidity, biting wind, torrential rain or freezing cold, not to mention the lack of many creature comforts.
So, sometimes, I crave the comfort of the city lifestyle. And then immediately feel ashamed of myself.
 Tell us about your blog
The Wildlife Diaries is a collection of trip reports, wildlife guides, suggested itineraries for wildlife watching trips and image-rich travel stories (I am a keen wildlife photographer). What I hope to achieve is to connect people to nature through storytelling and images.
It is also a record of my quest to see all 40 species of wild cats in the wild (so far, I have seen 17). In a way, it is a showcase of what we have to lose if we don’t get serious about protecting our wildlife and wild habitats.
 What do you love most about traveling?
It is tough to pick just one thing. Everything seems better on a journey. I love discovering new ways of living and looking at life. I love finding myself in situations that are so dramatically different from my everyday life, that they have that surreal air about them.
I also love getting a different perspective on familiar things. Basically, anything that takes me out of the ‘autopilot’ mode and pulls me into the present moment.
And of course, I love searching for and finding the cats! I love staring into the eyes of some of the most elusive predators on earth and sharing that brief moment of mutual acknowledgment.
 What do you dislike about traveling?
The one thing I dislike is over-tourism. Suddenly, one year, everyone decides to go to Iceland or Jordan, and you end up with a sea of people obstructing the very things they came to see. I believe in following your passion, not Instagram when traveling.
 How do you prepare for a trip?
I love researching trips! I spend days, planning itineraries, discovering all the possible side trips and quirky facts. Sometimes I think I derive as much joy from planning the trip as I do from taking it.
I select destinations that promise sightings of wild cats. Then I decide what kind of environment I feel like visiting this time: is it the Himalayas for the snow leopard or the Sahara Desert for the sand cat? Or maybe Borneo jungle for the clouded leopard.
Then I figure out which trip is more financially viable. Some destinations can be explored independently, others require a custom tour. If it has to be a tour, I look for travel partners to share the costs.
And then I hit the books, the websites, and the forums and learn as much as I can about the place. This research also helps me come up with story angles for writing up my trips later.
 You have won the lottery, now tell us where you want to live.
Napoleon once said: “If the earth was a single state, Istanbul would be its capital.” I feel the same way about Istanbul. One city, two continents, two epic empires and thousands of years of history. I would love to base myself in Istanbul. It feels like it has such an old soul.
 Travel essentials – 3 things you always travel with.
As a photographer, I always carry my camera gear with me. As well as a raincoat and a dry bag to keep all the electronics safe during any kind of water activities and rainy weather.
 What is your favorite article of clothing?
For cooler climates, I love my fleece. I get cold quite easily, so a quality fleece is a game changer for me. For tropical destinations, I love my pair of keen sandals – you can walk across creeks and puddles and not worry about your footwear getting wet.
 Your single most treasured personal possession.
That would probably be my blog with all the stories, images, and memories. It really is a labour of love for me.
 Do you have a piece of advice for bloggers starting out?
Yes, for both, traveling and blogging. Find your passion and your niche. And become an expert in it. This way you will avoid simply following the trends (and hopefully the crowds) and will have something unique to offer through your blog.
 What are three other blogs that inspire you?
 Your favorite travel resource on the web?
I probably wouldn’t get anywhere without Mammal Watching. It is a website dedicated to finding wildlife (mammals specifically) in the wild. Whatever mammal you might want to see, chances are there will be a trip report on Mammal Watching that you can follow.
Margarita’s Lightning Round of Favorites
Mode of Transportation: a boat or a canoe
Window or aisle: Window
Travel Gear: Sea to Summit Dry Bag
Travel snack: coffee
Book: Anything by Conan Doyle
Movie: The Lord of the Rings
Song: Right now, anything by Lindsey Sterling
Quote: “The hardest thing of all is to find a black cat in a dark room, especially if there is no cat” Confucius
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