Audacious Explorer. Man Out of Eden. Chief Listener.
After traveling to 50+ countries and earning most of the top media awards in the United States—including two Pulitzer Prizes for his work on human genetics and life in Africa—Paul dreamed his biggest dream. His idea? To walk roughly 24,000 miles, following Homo sapiens ancestral migration path out of Africa. Why? To check in with us, break bread, see how we work and live, and to tell the story of us, today.
He calls this sweeping project, the Out of Eden Walk. He figures that he is about halfway through the historic 15-year-long foot journey. Along the way, moving at about 3.5 mph, he has recorded thousands of conversations, and tens of thousands of photos and videos. The Walk has been called one the most audacious narrative projects in the world today. Its mission is simple: To record life on Earth at the unhurried pace of a walk, to illuminate—across borders and cultures—the deeper, if often overlooked, connections that bind together all humanity at the dawn of a new millennium.
Paul has been a leading voice in global media for more than 30 years, producing award-winning work about culture, the environment, mass migration, the arts, conflict, deep history, economic development, and many other topics. He is a National Geographic Explorer, and has been a McGraw Visiting Professor at Princeton University and a Visiting Fellow at the Nieman Foundation at Harvard University. With his education partners at Harvard and the National Geographic Society, Paul has developed an innovative ‘slow storytelling’ curriculum that reaches tens of thousands of students in 62 nations. This coursework encourages kids worldwide to rediscover home, and themselves, by walking their communities and documenting local stories.
While on the walk, Paul focuses on a common touchstone of human dignity and identity: people’s work. Personally, Paul has worn a lot of hats in the name of work. In addition to his incarnation as a journalist, he has labored as a commercial fisherman in the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, mined gold in Australia, and managed a remote cattle ranch in Mexico.
Raised in rural central Mexico, Paul graduated with honors from the University of California at Santa Barbara with a degree in Environmental Biology. He was awarded an honorary Ph.D. by Colby College in Maine. He is fluent in English and Spanish, speaks survival Russian, and is studying Mandarin. He is married to Georgian filmmaker Ana Jegnaradze and currently lives out of his rucksack.
Photos: courtesy Paul Salopek and John Stanmeyer / Out of Eden Walk
The Out of Eden Walk: 24,000+ miles around the Earth
Moving at the pace of footsteps, Paul is walking the ancient pathways of the first humans who migrated out of Africa in the Stone Age and went on to populate Earth. Along the way he is checking in with us—not so much to document hard data, but to understand the pulse of world’s people today. He has beared eyewitness to climate change, mass migration of humans and animals, ancient ruins and modern wonders, listening to and sharing the stories of everyday humans. These conversations, photos, videos and his reflections are creating a 21st century totem pole of human life. Hear the stories of your neighbors near and far - a mix of farmers, soldiers, artists, and nomads who rarely make the news.
Available via Zoom, from wherever he hangs his hat each evening.
Fall/Winter 2022 events will be from China and Russia
Photos: courtesy Paul Salopek and John Stanmeyer / National Geographic
Seen & Heard
The China Travel Podcast:
The Limehouse Podcast:
Techtonic podcast with Mark Hurst (WFMU):