Timbuktu, the mysterious; city of 333 saints; synonymous with the ends of the earth or the middle of nowhere; closer to BFE than Egypt ever was; city of legend and fabled wealth, centre of learning; intersection of knowledge and commerce; civilized before the civilized world; the Eldorado of Africa; much talked about, little known - even today many people are unsure if it is a real place of just a myth.

Visitors with high expectations are regularly disappointed while those with none tend to be pleasantly surprised.

Coming from the green of the fertile south and Niger River, entering Timbuktu is like entering another world. Although it, too, is composed of predominately adobe style mud bricks, many of the buildings are faced with limestone blocks giving the town a look unique in west Africa. Metal-studded doors and two-story houses with central courtyards open to the sky are remnants of the Moroccan influence as is the delicious cuisine.

Many visitors do a whirlwind tour swinging past Djingere Ber, the oldest mosque, to snap a photo and the tourist office to stamp a passport; a quick spin on a camel past "Tuaregs" camped out in front of the hotels but to really discover the town it is better to spend a few days. It is best to have a good guide, or rather
not have a bad one who will tag along everywhere interfering with your enjoyment, give you unreliable information, railroad you into activities or places you don't care about at the expense of what you do want to see and do...

Hi, I live in Timbuktu, an amazing, interesting, historic town that is well worth visiting, if you can get past the initial rush of pushy “guides” and “artisans” that crowd the entries to the main hotels in town. If you limit yourself to the hotels and restaurants frequented by tourists you may end up disappointed, thinking Timbuktu is not worth the trouble it takes to get there. Everyone is just trying to sell you something and no one looks farther than your pocket book.

An unfortunate fact is that Timbuktu's tourist industry is growing faster than the understanding of how to manage it. Thus a plethora of untrained unethical purveyors of everything are, in fact, underminding the industry they are trying to profit from.

Don’t let this discourage you. It is still possible to have a wonderful, insightful, educative, inspiring trip. In the absence of a well organized office of tourism, I have started this site to help people make informed choices of where to stay and what to do.

I admit that the people I recommend are often friends or relations. This is partly because in a town like Timbuktu you end up knowing everybody. It is also partly because I will only recommend people I know to be trustworthy; this eliminates the people I don’t know, whether they are trustworthy or not.

Different people have different amounts of experience travelling abroad and different interests or goals while here. This site attempts to be exhaustive, answering all the possible questions a traveller could have, and giving all the different possibilities of what to do or see. If some sections don’t appeal to you, skip them.

Besides giving detailed visitor information, I am attempting to give plenty of cultural and ethnographic insights as well. Information that should be useful to the student researcher and interesting to the casual browser. If you are researching Timbuktu for information instead of travel, check out the
culture and myths section and feel free to contact me for more information and sources to back up what is stated here. If you want more details on life in Timbuktu today see my blog. If you are wondering who the heck I am check out the page about me.