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Kira Salak was born in Illinois in 1971, and has traveled solo to almost every continent, visiting the world's most remote places, including Madagascar, Mozambique, Bangladesh, Papua New Guinea and Borneo. She was the first person to kayak solo 600 miles down West Africa’s Niger River to Timbuktu in Mali and the first woman to cross Papua New Guinea, following the route taken by British explorer Ivan Champion in 1927. In 2003, she completed a 700-mile cycling trip across Alaska to the Arctic Ocean. Book Magazine has called her "the gutsiest—and some say, craziest—woman adventurer of our day." Says The New York Times: "Kira Salak is a tough, real life Lara Croft."
She is a contributing editor for National Geographic Adventure magazine. Her story about the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s civil war and its effect on the country’s mountain gorillas won her the prestigious 2004 PEN Award in Journalism. She has written two books. Four Corners: Into the Heart of New Guinea,One Woman’s Solo Journey (Counterpoint) was chosen by the New York Times Book Review as a Notable Travel Book of the Year in 2001. Her second book, The Cruelest Journey: Six Hundred Miles to Timbuktu, was published by National Geographic Books in November 2004.
Salak was designated by the National Geographic Society as one of its Emerging Explorers, and will soon be profiled by CBS News’ “Sunday Morning” as well as National Geographic TV. She and her work has been featured in The New York Times Book Review, Glamour, Vogue, Vogue U.K., The Observer, London Times, NY Post, Travel & Leisure, National Geographic, Book Magazine, National Geographic Adventure, and many other places.
Awarded a Writers at Work Fellowship in nonfiction and the AWP/Prague Fellowship Award in creative nonfiction, her work has also appeared in National Geographic, National Geographic Adventure, New York Times Magazine, Best American Travel Writing 2002, Best American Travel Writing 2003, Best American Travel Writing 2004. Her fiction was selected for Best New American Voices 2001 (judged by Charles Baxter; inclusion is highly competitive). She was nominated for a Pushcart Prize in fiction in 2002, and her fiction and nonfiction have appeared in various anthologies and journals, including Adrenaline 2002: The Year's Best Stories of Adventure and Survival.
Salak holds a Ph.D. in English literature and creative writing from the University of Missouri in Columbia. She is active in tae kwon do and still holds the Wisconsin State Track & Field Record for the women’s mile. Her interests also include hiking, scaling mountains without climbing equipment, primitive camping, kayaking and kick-boxing.
Read more at www.nationalgeographic.com/emerging/kiraSalak.html
and at http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2002/12/1206_021205_salakkayak.html
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