Published: April 29th 2009April 29th 2009
Welcome to Timbuktu!
Camel ride into the Saharan sunset... priceless
"Great! After sixteen long hours, we've finally made it to Timbuktu! Where are we gonna sleep?"
That was the general sentiment that prevailed Friday at five o'clock in the morning. Our growing anxiety however was soon put to rest when we met up with a guy named Ali. Interestingly enough, I had actually talked to him on the phone in Mopti [He's close friends with guys we failed to take the 4X4 from...everybody has a friend in Africa]. Funny thing was we never discussed what time or where in the city we would arrive. So as to how he knew our exact time and place of arrival is still a mystery to me to this day...oh well!
Ali greeted us and told us about accommodations that he had already arranged. They were cheap and we were exhausted, so we readily agreed! He guided us through the city to this really cool private apartment... room... thing, complete with it's own fan, and bathroom...well place to take a bucket shower, and hole in the ground to...well...yeah. But hey, for 3,000 CFA, we weren't about to say no!
We immediately passed out on the beds for the next three hours. When
Like taking a step back into time... Man, I love new and exotic places!
we awoke we grabbed some breakfast, made out our itinerary for the day, and met back up with Ali, who acted as our translator and tour guide for the city.
Okay, so all of the guidebooks, in my humble opinion, really downplay Timbuktu. Often starting out the chapter by saying "Yes, Timbuktu is legendary and historical...but really, there isn't really anything out there." Needless to say, I set my expectations low... Turns out I didn't have to. Timbuktu is awesome!
We spent the day exploring the city learning about the history and architecture of the local mosques, touring a calligraphy museum, shopping at the local markets, and visiting the homes of famous ancient European explorers. Together with Ali, we were able to get our passports stamped, organize our transportation back home, and climax our stay with a sweet Saharan camel ride into the sunset... Life is good.
Definitely the best part was the camel ride. They're so tall!! And tons of fun to ride. Words can't do it justice. When we arrived at the sand dunes, I made a very impressive sand angel, admired the beautiful solitude of the desert, and learned about the local cultures from
our guide. This was for certain, one of the coolest experiences of my life!
It was a jam packed day, and well worth the pains it took to get there. We had conquered the Legendary city of Timbuktu in less than 24 hours... not too shabby, not too shabby at all. So with the first half of goals accomplished we retired to our beds early. Eager to begin preparations for our Dogon Country trek...
There are more photos below