Journalist Paul Salopek is preparing to set off on an amazing journey that he expects to take roughly seven years to complete. Along the way he’ll be covering more than 22,000 miles (35,400 km) almost entirely on foot, as he attempts to trace the route that our earliest ancestors took as they migrated away from Africa and went out to settle the rest of the world. He calls this expedition the Out of Eden Walk.
The two-time Pulitzer Prize winning writer is planning to start his ambitious project in January when he’ll set out on a grand trek from the Great Rift Valley in Ethiopia. The valley is the place where most scientists believe man had his origins, spending some time there before spreading out across the globe. After departing Africa, Salopek will then walk across the Middle East and Asia before hopping across the Pacific Ocean to Alaska. At that point, he’ll already have covered thousands of miles and spent months on the road, but he’ll hardly be finished yet. The next stage of the expedition will take him south all the way to Patagonia at the extreme end of South America.
Salopek says that this is a very personal project for him and he intends to tell numerous stories from the road, chronically the people that he meets and the places that he sees along the way. The list of topics he intends to cover while on this journey includes climate change, the impact of foreign aid from the west on various locations, cultural change in the 21st century and much more.
The Nieman Journalsim Lab at Harvard posted a story about the journey earlier today garnering some insights into what Paul hopes to accomplish and what gear he expects to take with him when he gets underway. Amongst the items he’ll be taking with him are a MacBook Air, cameras from GoPro and Sony, a handheld GPS unit and a satellite phone. Fairly standard gear for an expedition of just about any length.
This looks like it will be a fascinating journey to follow and it certainly will be long enough. I look forward to reading Salopek’s reports from the road. I’m sure they’ll be fantastic.
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