Paul Salopek: Going for a seven-year walk


US journalist Paul Salopek is going to spend the next seven years walking from Ethiopia to the tip of South America, retracing the journey of early humans out of Africa and around the world.

Along the way he will be writing articles, shooting video and tweeting.

Salopek will take some 30 million footsteps during this journey, which he calls “the long walk into our becoming”. So there is a lot of potential for blisters.

But he insists he is not doing this as some kind of extreme sport – he will be thinking hard, en route, about human evolution.

The starting point for the trek is Herto Bouri, a site in north-eastern Ethiopia populated by early humans in the Middle Stone Age.

“Paleoanthropologists have found an extremely old Homo sapiens fossil there, which might be as much as 160,000 years old,” says Salopek.

This was how we were designed to absorb information, at 5km an hour (3mph)”

“Since the group of people whose footsteps I am following are early homo sapiens, the fit is pretty good.”

Written By: Robin Banerji
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  1. Perhaps I’m being pedantic but I do wish journalists would stop using phrases like “This was how we were designed to absorb information…”, unless, of course, they actually do think we were designed. Surely substituting “evolved” for “were designed” would not only be more accurate but a better representation of what he was trying to say.

    That aside, it should make for an interesting story, although it will be challenging to create a picture of what the journey must have been like for our ancestors thousands of years ago compared to the current world landscape.

  2. I like that he wants to document little known tribes/peoples. By the same token, he will have a golden opportunity to observe flora and fauna too, maybe some that is unknown to science!

    Bon Voyage.

  3. did the early humans do it all in one go, too? i mean, did they all spend seven years on the move, or did they do it in stages, say 10 million footsteps over 3 generations or so? i ask this with only half a tongue-in-cheek!

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