Paul Salopek

A group of 16- to 19-year-old students in Banbasa, India, will participate in National Geographic Photo Camp, March 22-27, 2018. National Geographic Photo Camp is a program that teaches young people from underserved communities, including at-risk and refugee teens, how to use photography to tell their own stories, explore the world around them and develop...

We were walking hard all day long on the Karakoram Highway, and then we came to a restaurant….on the outskirts of Abbottabad, the garrison town where Osama Bin Laden was killed in hiding. Experience Milestone 53 of the Out of Eden Walk here....

Chelas, a mountainous district near the headwaters of the Indus River in Pakistan’s rugged Karakoram, has a hard reputation. Aid agencies tread carefully among the remote villages, where tough Chelasi clans call the shots. In 2012, Sunni extremists, who may or may not have been from Chelas, executed 18 Shiite bus passengers on the Karakoram...

Rivers in the glacial valleys of the Karakoram, the towering mountains of northern Pakistan, swirl ice cold and the color of slate. Along the banks of some of these remote waterways, patchwork tents huddle like flotsam. Inside the tents live nomad families who wander from current to current, panning the dark sands for glints of...

For the past 672 days I have been walking across Central Asia …. And now, after tumbling at last out of Himalayan valleys and onto the lush plains of the Punjab plateau, it is time to turn another page on a foot journey that is slowly connecting the ghostly campfires of the ancestors who first...

We are slogging, my walking partner Naveed Khan and I, down a cruel blacktop highway in the Karakoram range of northern Pakistan. Behind us: the air-blue mountain passes leading to the parched deserts of western China, to the alpine wilds of northern Afghanistan. Ahead of us: the lush green Punjab plateau, and, eventually, the scorched...

As I looked about me I felt that the grass was the country, as the water is the sea . . . And there was so much motion in it; the whole country seemed, somehow, to be running.― Willa Cather, My Antonia The Karakoram range that cleaves northern Afghanistan from Pakistan is a cold desert....

Almost 130 years ago the representatives of two unequal empires faced off inside a royal tent in the remote Gilgit-Balistan region of Pakistan. Sir Francis Younghusband, a British colonial officer and master spy, arrived in full regimental uniform—shining with brass and braid—hoping to overawe the court of the fiercely independent kingdom of Hunza. Safdar Ali,...

Not only is it rare . . . but it is wary and elusive to a magical degree, and so well camouflaged in the places it chooses to lie that one can stare straight at it from yards away and fail to see it. — Peter Matthiessen, The Snow Leopard We are walking the length...

The hut is tiny and windowless and constructed of round river stones, and it stands alone in a high wild valley in Afghanistan. From 20 paces away you can hear it hum: Its walls emit a strange, wavering sound like an extended sigh—a soft, dry, droning song that rarely ceases. Occasionally a man and a...

The bridge over the lime green Panj River at Ishkashem, Afghanistan, is one of our young century’s great invisible hinges. It is a simple bridge. Made of crudely poured concrete. Dusty. Little used. (Indeed, a rusty gate locks access to all traffic from 4 p.m. to late morning.) Yet history—worlds—collide here. On one side of...

Walking through the world, one navigates endless frontiers: real and imagined, old and new, visible and invisible, passable and impassable. In the remote Pamirs of Tajikistan, we skirt the salt surf of Karakul Lake, cupped in a giant meteorite crater, at 13,000 feet one of the highest bodies of water in the world. We walk...

“See them?” It is Mahan Atabaev: skinny, wind-burned, a pastoralist in a baseball cap. He stands in a chilly alpine dawn, urging me look through a spotting scope. The scope is trained on a valley high in the Pamir range of Tajikistan. I crouch to peek, and what I see is this: animals that appear...

The relaunch of the Out of Eden Walk in Central Asia has not been without hiccups. First, barely two days before departing, while chewing into breakfast in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, I cracked a molar in half. (“I’ll try to get you to India,” the dental surgeon said, doubtfully.) Then mountain guide Sergei Gnezdilov fell ill with...