Into Eden

The wildflower meadows of Kyrgyzstan are an overlooked glory of Central Asia. At least to outsiders.

In fact, the most democratic of the former Soviet “Stans” celebrates its floral wealth with much the same nationalist pride that less enlightened countries reserve, say, for flippantly sacrificing such natural wonders. According to one botanical website, of the 80 varieties of tulips in the world, 22 can be found in Kyrgyzstan. “Holland is commonly known as the Tulip state,” the site notes testily, “but the original Tulip state is in fact Kyrgyzstan.”

I am walking across the world. I once studied biology.

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Human Journey

Meet the Author
Pulitzer Prize-winning correspondent and National Geographic Fellow Paul Salopek’s 21,000-mile Out of Eden Walk is a multiyear experiment in slow journalism. Moving at the beat of his footsteps, Salopek is walking the pathways of the first humans who migrated out of Africa in the Stone Age and made the Earth ours. Along the way he is covering the major stories of our time—from climate change to technological innovation, from mass migration to cultural survival—by giving voice to the people who inhabit them every day. His words, as well as his photographs, video, and audio, are creating a global record of human life at the start of a new millennium as told by villagers, nomads, traders, farmers, soldiers, and artists who rarely make the news. Join the journey at and on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram at @OutofEdenWalk.