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
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
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
If you are wondering who the heck I am check out the
page about me.