Planning to walk off a few pounds in the New Year? Whatever your resolution, it’ll be tame in comparison with Paul Salopek’s. Three years ago he set out from Ethiopia intent on retracing on foot our ancestors’ migration out of Africa and across the globe. He’s due to finish in four (or maybe five, or six) years’ time at the southern tip of South America. It’s an exercise in slow journalism in which he aims to immerse himself in the big stories of our time — from climate change to mass migration — by walking alongside those who people them every day.
Salopek is a Pulitzer prize-winning journalist and a Fellow of National Geographic, which is funding his trip and publishing his reports. So far he’s walked nearly 4,000 miles and he’s currently in the Caucasus. I heard him briefly the other night on Radio 4, but the recording doesn’t seem to be available online. You can, however, still listen to a chat he had in mid-December with CBC Radio in Canada. He is, he says, “approaching the news as a form of pilgrimage”.