How do you chose from the plethora of youth outside the hotels and crowding around your table at the restaurants? You don’t necessarily have to choose any. Remember if all you want to do is wander around and soak up the ambience you don’t
need a guide.

However a guide can improve the experience by adding that extra dimension of understanding to what you are seeing.
A skilled guide can give you a fascinating in-depth history of all the sites you visit as well as on the town and the population in general. He can create an opening in the true population of Timbuktu through which you can view and taste the reality, not just the facade most tourists can never get past. He can also make sure you don’t get lost and if you don’t have a lot of time make sure you get from one site worth seeing to the next without a lot of confused wandering around trying to decipher the miniscule and incomplete map in your guide book. And finally he can protect you from the other guides, artisans and children who might otherwise tag along pestering you.

Regional Bureau of Tourism (OMATHO)
located on the west side of the main drag of town just north of the Grande Mosque and before you arrive at the first hotel Colombe. Tel: 21 92 10 77. The office is not very complete but they should have a list of official guides. Those who have been certified and carry a professional card with photo indicating that they are in fact guides. You can also get your passport stamped here free of charge. They are open Monday through Friday regular business hours.

Union Regional des Guides et Chameliers de Tombouctou
This recently created association unites all the official guides both of the city and the desert. Their goal is to put more order and professionalism into the guide industry of Timbuktu. The unanimously elected president of the association is Shindouk Mohamed Lamine. The office is located at the very southern extremity of Timbuktu in the first block of buildings you encounter when coming into town from the port or airport on the right (east) side of the road facing a big petrol station. For a list of all the official guides for Timbuktu click here.

Shindouk (00 223) 76 31 91 45
The single best guide in Timbuktu is Shindouk. He is also the only Berabish Tuareg in tourism and chief of his tribe, the Oulad Najim. The profits of his own work go directly or indirectly to help his community. When he isn’t drumming up money to put in a well, a school, a dispensary in their territory North of Timbuktu, he is using his contacts to see that some of the food aid makes it out there instead of into the shops of the rich people in town. With his earnings he purchases grain or animals to help rebuild the herds decimated by droughts and the rebellion. When he has clients he employes he relatives who would normally have nothing to do with such things, to give them a chance to earn some income and giving the tourists a look into a real nomad’s life. For more information on what he is doing for his tribe see his website created by a Swiss NGO, ICVolonteers:

Shindouk can arrange camel rides and outings in the desert by camel or 4x4 of any duration, outings on the river, visits of the town, or entire circuits from Bamako through Segou, Djenne, Mopti, Dogon country, and of course the north. He speaks French, Berabish (moor), Songai, Tamacheq, and Bambara, and a small amount of English. If you are interested in his services and don’t speak French, his wife can translate, she speaks English, French, Pulaar (fulani), and some Songai and Berabish.

He is a historian and often works with researchers, writers, and students, on their projects. He is sited in numerous books, magazines, and newspaper articles on Timbuktu for which he was also was a primary source of information as well as aiding the researchers to encounter the people they wanted to interview and interpreting for them, and appears in several documentaries:

  • Author Unknown, (2006) Une mission pleine de promesses pour "Les Amis de Bamba", L'Independant 26 avril 2006.
  • Bradt Guide - Mali (2009) pages 241-42, 249
  • Baxter, Joan (2005) Girl From Whycocomagh, How a Nova Scotia girl ended up in Timbuktu, married to a village chief, The Sunday Chronical Herald, The Nova Scotian cover article, 6 Nov., 2005, pp 1, 3-4.
  • Brunner, Mirjam (2008) A Teacher's experience in the Sahara. (Schools and Students, what you can do to make the difference), Earth Focus One Planet-One Community. 22 jun, 08 (
  • Decoopman, Jeremie-Mehdi (2001) Tombouctou, l’Afrique s’éveille au net pg 131-133 Web Magazine, No 26, Jun. 2001.
  • De Villiers, Marq & Hirtle, Sheila (2007) Space, Time and Timbuktu, Natural History Magazine Aug. 2007, pg. 22-26 and cover photo.
  • De Villiers, Marq & Hirtle, Sheila (2007)Timbuktu: The Sahara's Fabled City of Gold, Walter and Company
  • Djian, J.M. "Nouvelle merveille du monde", Jeune Afrique No 2410, 18-24 mars, 2007 photo pp. 79.
  • Doucet, Stephanie (2006) En Pays Touareg, Les Bijoux Racontent: 80 jours chez les hommes blues, L'Harmattan
  • Fraser, Laura (2007) From Whycocomagh to Timbuktu, Cape Breton woman finds a life and love with nomadic community in West Africa, The Chronical Herald, 20, Dec. 2007, front page.
  • Jaton, Nicole. & Jaton, Sophie (2006) Impressions de Tombouctou, Bulletin d'information de l'Association Tam Tam de Tombouctou, No. 7, Oct. 2006.
  • La Meslee, Valerie Marin (2006) Tombouctou, Les Pistes du Savoir, Magazine Littéraire, No. 450, Feb. 2006, pp. 10-13
  • LeGloahec, John Pierre (2006) Cadet reflects on African immersion trip, Academy Spirit, USAF Academy, Colorado, USA, 18 Aug., 2006, pp.6-7.
  • Le Petit Futé, editions, 2007 photo pg.
  • Lonely Planet (2009) West Africa Guide, Section Timbuktu pp.521
  • Loude, Jean-Yves (2006) Les lettres de Tombouctou et de Gourma-Rharous, Paris, Editions Donniy / la passe du vent, pp 35-39, 50-51.
  • Millet, Eric (2005) Découverte Mali, Magie d’un Fleuve aux Confins du Désert, Geniva: éditions Olizane, pp. 271-272.
  • Millet, Eric (2005) La Quête du Désert, d’un rêve à la réalité, Paris: éditions Arthaud, pp. 265.
  • Millet, Eric (2001) Objectif Aventure Mali, Paris: éditions Aruthaud, pp. 268-269.
  • Millet, Eric (2006) Tombouctou, La Réalité d’un mythe, Geniva Editions Olizane, pp.168 Also sited in preface by Michel Onfrey, pp.9
  • OMATHO (2007) Shindouk [photograph] "Votez Tombouctou", Afrique Magazine No. 262, julliet 2007, pg. 104.
  • Routard West Africa Guide (2009) Mali section see hotels, and camel outings in Timbuktu, pp.273
  • Ruozi, Roberto, (2003) Lettera da Tombouctou, Notiziario della Banca Popolare di Sondrio, No. 91 avril 2003
  • Shindouk, Mohamed Lamine, L’occident vu par les yeux d’un Touareg, travel log, photos by Viola Krebs, 2006. See book
  • Stephan, Caroline (2003) Shindouk, Tuareg et internaute, 24Heurs, No 287, 10, Dec. 2003, pp.6
  • Togola, D. (2008) Tombouctou, Le Ville a Mille Ans, Le Quotidien de Bamako, No 0148, 29 jan, 2008 pp. 4.
  • UN Volunteers Annual Report 2003/2004, Back cover Picture
  • Vann, Carole, "SMSI: A MEYRIN, BERCEAU DU WEB: Touregs, Dogons, HImbas dans le cygberespace", InfoSud, 11, Dec, 2003
  • World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) Volunteer Family, Phase I Report, Geneva Switzerland, 2003, photo pp.37

  • L'Etranger du grand fleuve, (2003) Documentary. Directed by Annick Colomes (France 2003) [Photo dans le Telerama du 2 au 8 dec. 2006 p. 105]
  • Moi Sekou mon exil mon village mon combat, Documetary. Directed by Eric Mounier, ADN Productions, IRD France 5, 2007
  • Something from Nothing, a Trip on the Tracks of Internet in Africa, (2003)Documentary. co-production CERN/ICV 2003. see film
  • Tombouctou d’un mythe européen à la réalité africaine, (2006) Documentary. Directed by Thiery Fumey, Switzerland.
  • Un visite sur les routes de savoir, Documentary for TV5, directed by Patrick , 2008
  • Documentary on the salt trade SWR Südwestrundfunk (German television station), directed by Tilman Bütner, 2007

List of licensed guides for the Timbuktu Region
This section is under construction. Please check back later for updates
This is a list of the officially licensed local guides as posted at the bureau of tourism
02 Bouba Alhadj 76270702
03 Ahmad Ag Med Acheik
04 Alamir Abdoulaye 76024006
05 Aiassane Coulibaly 79496591
06 Alfaki Ag Abdourhamane 76208926
07 Alhadi Toure 76042176
08 Alkeidi Toure 76240105
09 Almouazer Ag Mohamed 79058287
10 Alphadi Ascofare 79426930
11 Aly Dicko "Gossi"
12 Ahmadou Traoure 79097132
14 Bamaye Baba Dicko 76271013
15 Barka Albousseini 76239428
16 Boubacar Abdoulaye Cisse 75038463
17 Dramane Mahamane
18 Hama Ag Mossa
19 Ibrahim oyahatt 76042195
20 Idrissa Maiga 76023488
21 Khalifa Ag Imama 79157881
22 Khalil Baber 76042123
23 Moctar Ben Sidi 76051017
24 Mohamed Cisse 76025273
25 Mohamed Ag Litri
27 Mohamed Ali Ag Attaher dit Bagna 76023623
28 Mohamed suffice Ag Med Ousmane
31 Oumar Maiga
32 Mohamed Ousmane Ag Almostapha
33 Sana Sibily 76145831
34 Shindouk Med Lamine ould Najim 76319145
35 Youssouf Coulibaly 76050934
36 Aboubacrime Ag Moha 76032923
38 Hassaya Ag Bacreme
39 Cheibany Baby 66883019
40 Issa Hamidou Cisse 76208904
41 Salem ould elhadj 76023101
42 Aboubacrine Ag Hamakel 79123109
43 Frederic Gardey
44 Mahamane Abdoulaye Traoure
45 Mohamed Salah ould Mohamed
46 Ahmadou Mahamen Toure
47 Ahmadou Mahamane Maiga 76240093
48 Baba Toure 76177499
49 Nouhaoum Yaye 79427049
50 Boubacar Baba Dicko 76187022
52 Abdourahmane __ Maiga
55 Dahamene ould Med Ali
56 Seydou Baba 76023110
57 Issa Cisse 79095090
58 Baba Mikila Dedeou
59 Assoumane Hama Djitteye
60 Med Elhassane Ag Elmoctar 76023647
61 Sane Mohamed Haidara 76270719
62 Mohamed Hamzata 78023622
63 Mohamed Aboubacrine Ag Med Mutta 79811199
64 Ayouba Ag Moha 76023984
65 Mohamed Ahmad Ag Med El Maouloud
66 Mohamed Ag Mossa dit Bebe 76145912
67 Allimam Oumar 76032355
68 Mahamane Abdou Troure 76020312

These guides are listed as country guides by the office of tourism

01 Alhouseini Ag Tajoudine 76023414
02 Mahamoudou Djitteye 76042193
04 Mohmaed Ali Baby
05 Mohamed Lamine Chirifi
09 Sankoum Sissoko 76023855
11 Pasteur Noch Ag Fafa Yattara 7602 30 73
18 Oumar Dicko
19 Azima Ag Mohamed Ali 7602 35 47
20 Moussoudou Mahamane Baby 76023619
21 Mohamed Aly Ag Mohamed al Ansar 79183177
22 Abdoul Kassoum Haidara