"Timbuktu, the forbidden city" Timbuktu by F_Meignant

Timbuktu Travel Guide: 95 reviews and 400 photos

Timbuktu… « La Ville 7 fois sainte »… « la Cité aux toits d’or »… « La Ville aux 333 Saints »…
Nowadays, the mythic city is only a pale shadow of its legend. Already in 1828 when he arrived there, the French René Caillié was a bit disappointed: according to the city’s fame, he was expecting lots of treasures. He just found houses built of earth, a large city surrounded by desert…
Caillié was the first Occidental who reached Timbuktu and came back alive. Several explorers tried to reach the city before him. In 1790, Major Daniel Houghton, recruited by the “African Association”, left Gambia and went East... He died before having reached the Niger River, probably killed by the Moors.
Major Gordon Laing tried another route: he left Tripoli in February 1826. He is the first European who reached Timbuktu. It was in May 1826. But he had to flee the city, which was forbidden to foreigners. He was finally killed by Tuaregs in the desert a few days later.
René Caillié left Guinea in April 1827. He put on a disguise of a Muslim pilgrim and said he was an Egyptian boy, raised by a soldier of Napoleon’s army and taken by him to Senegal… Thanks to his disguise, he could reach Timbuktu in April 1828. But he was very sick and only stayed 13 days in the city. He then joined a caravan, crossed the Sahara and finally reached Morocco, from where he was sent back in France, half dead because of sicknesses and starvation. He never recovered completely, and died in 1838. He was only 39 years old.

Attending the "Festival au Désert"

To visit the festival of Tuareg and West-African music of Essakane, click here:

"Festival au Désert"

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:Myth and the mosque of Djingereyber.
  • Cons:Sewage, rubbish...
  • In a nutshell:Dig hard...
  • Last visit to Timbuktu: Jan 2003
  • Intro Updated May 9, 2016
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Reviews (2)

Comments (8)

  • caffeine_induced78's Profile Photo
    Nov 18, 2004 at 7:50 PM

    Does it make it beckon more when it's so hard to get to?

  • grets's Profile Photo
    Jun 30, 2004 at 1:36 PM

    We spent three days on a pinasse from Mopti to Timbuktu - uncomfortable and boring but an almost life-changing experience. Sleeping under the stars at night on the river bank, waking to find a hippo close by....

  • cadzand's Profile Photo
    Jan 27, 2004 at 10:34 AM

    What a pity hassling shop keepers, guides and beggars are all around. Almost sure, it is our' (tourists) own fault.... don't you think so ?

  • kasparek's Profile Photo
    Jan 17, 2004 at 2:47 AM

    great pictures!

  • kenHuocj's Profile Photo
    Jan 8, 2004 at 1:50 AM

    your photos and words are indeed, those of a well versed traveller ;-)))

  • craic's Profile Photo
    Oct 23, 2003 at 8:19 PM

    Amazing stuff.

  • nomada's Profile Photo
    Oct 21, 2003 at 2:36 AM

    Another great page, Francois. Love Africa, even with all the problems.

  • titti's Profile Photo
    Oct 20, 2003 at 11:49 PM

    Magical page! I love your african pages, Francois, and I'd love to travel following your tracks. Thank you for the tips.


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