Paul Salopek



Picture of Paul Salopek

Photograph courtesy Paul Salopek


Photograph by Becky Hale

Beginning in January 2013, Paul Salopek takes the first of 30 million footsteps for the Out of Eden Walk, an epic trek following the pathways of our ancestors. Pacing across three continents, he will tell stories—via online and long-form literary journalism—of humanity's ever unfolding journey. People can follow Salopek's trek through dispatches he will write for National Geographic and by visiting the project's website.

From the Great Rift Valley in Ethiopia, Salopek will walk through the Middle East, over the Asian steppes to China, and on to the tundra of Siberia. Following a ship passage across the Bering Strait to Alaska, he will continue down the length of the New World to Tierra del Fuego—the last corner of the world where our forebears ran out of horizon roughly 11,000 years ago. The Out of Eden Walk, a unique storytelling journey, spans 2,500 generations and crosses 21,000 miles of our planet's surface. It will occupy seven years of Salopek's life.

As a foreign correspondent, Salopek has worked in Africa, the Balkans, the Middle East, Central Asia, and Latin America. His stories have appeared in National Geographic, the Chicago Tribune, The Atlantic, Foreign Policy, The American Scholar, Conservation Magazine, The Best American Travel Writing, and many other publications. His work has won most of the national print journalism awards in the United States, including two Pulitzer Prizes; the George Polk Award; the National Press Club Award; the Overseas Press Club Award; the Daniel Pearl Award for Courage in Journalism; a Princeton Ferris-McGraw Fellowship; a Nieman Fellowship at Harvard; and other honors. In addition, he has appeared as a commentator on the PBS NewsHour, NPR's Fresh Air, and other national news programs.

Salopek has spent most of his career in print journalism, often undertaking long, solo, muscle-powered journeys through the stories he covers. He canoed for weeks down the Congo River to report on the Congo civil war for the Chicago Tribune. He has clerked at a Chicago gas station for a story on global oil. And he once rode a mule for a year through Mexico's Sierra Madre to write a personal meditation about the place and people.

Salopek was born in California and raised in central Mexico. He holds a B.A. in biology from the University of California, Santa Barbara.

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I am going to swim upstream against the flow of information and try to slow people down to have them observe stories at a human pace—at about three miles per hour.

—Paul Salopek



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