|DR. KIRA SALAK
Kira Salak has traveled solo to almost every continent, visiting the world's remotest places. In 2002, Salak became the first person in the world to kayak solo 600 miles down the Niger River to Timbuktu in Mali. The first woman to cross Papua New Guinea, she also cycled 800 miles across Alaska to the Arctic Ocean. In 2007, Salak became one of a rare few to successfully complete Bhutan’s 216-mile Snowman Trek—the hardest high altitude trek in the Himalayas (more people have reached the top of Mt. Everest than have completed the Snowman). 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."
Salak is the author of three books. Her novel, The White Mary, published by Henry Holt in 2008, was Publisher’s Weekly “Pick of the Week.” Her nonfiction adventure book, Four Corners: A Journey into the Heart of Papua New Guinea (National Geographic Books), was chosen by The New York Times as a Notable Travel Book of the Year. Salak’s second travel book, The Cruelest Journey: Six Hundred Miles to Timbuktu, was published by National Geographic Books in 2004. Her books have been translated into several different languages.
Salak was one of five people in the world to receive a 2005 National Geographic Society Emerging Explorer Award, and she has led expeditions to such places as Libya, Iran, and Burma. A contributing editor for National Geographic Adventure magazine, her article about the Democratic Republic of Congo’s civil war won her the prestigious 2004 PEN Award in Journalism. The United States Library of Congress chose Salak for inclusion in its “Women Who Dare” publications, highlighting the world’s top women explorers and leaders. Her work has appeared five times in Best American Travel Writing, and she was awarded Lowell Thomas Gold Awards for Best Foreign Article, Best Adventure Article, and Best Environmental Reporting. Salak has written for such publications as National Geographic, The Washington Post, National Geographic Adventure, New York Times Magazine, Travel & Leisure, and Backpacker. Her fiction was chosen for inclusion in Best New American Voices. Her writing has been selected for various anthologies, including Adrenaline 2002: The Year's Best Stories of Adventure and Survival, The Best Women’s Travel Writing, and Nixon Under the Bodhi Tree and Other Works of Buddhist Fiction.
Salak has appeared on such shows as the CBS Evening News, Canadian Broadcasting Corporation’s The Hour with George Stroumboulopoulos, and ABC’s Good Morning America. She has been featured in many publications, including: The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times Book Review, Glamour, Vogue, The Observer, London Times, New York Post, Travel & Leisure, National Geographic, Book Magazine, Oprah Magazine, and National Geographic Adventure. In 2011, Salak was invited to Frankfurt, Germany as a guest speaker for Deutsche Bank’s presentation, “The Scope of Risk: Leaders between Courage and Caution.”
Salak holds a Ph.D. in English Literature and Writing from the University of Missouri-Columbia, and a M.F.A. in Fiction Writing from the University of Arizona. A state champion in cross-country and track while in high school, she currently enjoys hiking, backcountry camping, kayaking, and exploring non-dualistic alternative realms. Salak lives in Germany, in the Bavarian Alps.