‘Good’ Wolves, ‘Bad’ Wolves—and Genies—Stalk This Land

From National Geographic:

Paul Salopek is walking the global trail of the first humans who migrated out of Africa in the Stone Age. His continuous 21,000-mile foot journey, called the “Out of Eden Walk,” is recorded in dispatches.

The Ustyurt Plateau covers 70,000 square miles of Central Asia. Half of this iron-flat tableland lies in western Kazakhstan. The other half sprawls into Uzbekistan. It is an immense land feature largely unknown to the outside world and, because of its extreme isolation, underappreciated even by Kazakhs. The Ustyurt supports herds of gazelles, antelopes, and mountain sheep. A desert nature preserve on the Ustyurt could qualify as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Its ragged steppes are crisscrossed by ancient migrations: Neolithic hunters, Silk Road camel drivers, and the armies of Scythians, Mongols, Russians. Over the summer I walked across this mostly deserted upland with two men—Daulet Begendikov and Talgat Omarov—and a Kazakh cargo horse. Our journey was possibly the first foot traverse of the Ustyurt in 80 or more years, since the forced settlement of Central Asian nomads under Stalin.

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