Paul Salopek

Global Walker Forced Off His Feet for 78 Miles in Northern Pakistan

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…

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Unknown Pakistan

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,…

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Ghost Sea

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…

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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…

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