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There are many ways to get to Tombouctou, also known as Timbuktu!  We chose the hardest piste from the end of the Route de l'espoir in Mauritania, not because we are masochists, but as it seemed at the time to be the shortest (overland) route.  Of course, for total wimps and geriatrics (and sensible people) you can fly to Bamako from anywhere then get a short hop to the local airport, but where is the challenge in that?  It is like getting a helicopter to the South Pole! 

But having made the effort, you would have thought they might be a little more welcoming, even throw a party...but no, just the parasitic tourist stuff.  At least they have air-conditioned hotels with showers and cold beer which is more than welcome after a few days in the desert.

It is supposedly mysterious, but I reckon that is only because nobody who writes the guide books has ever actually been there.  You get all kinds of rubbish about having to register with the police, that they will only sell diesel to locals (or that there is none available) and that it is ..."mysterious".  

Only mystery is why anyone thinks it is!  For the record, you don't need any special paperwork, you can buy diesel, you can stay in comfortable hotels, you can buy booze and you can get reasonable food in the restaurants.  Main recommendation though is to ignore what "Rough Guide" says about virtually everything.

Return to Sahara Itinerary 2005

Tombouctou, Mali (51).jpg (39987 bytes)
Buildings Mosque Street Scene Nearby


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© Jeremy Harrison 2005-2013