Wednesday, August 6
Timbuktu, Mali

By the time I disembarked in Timbuktu (click here to see where it is on a map) on Monday afternoon, I was no longer traveling on my own, but in a group of five.

My latest posse included two Americans, a Brit and a German. The latter two were traveling alone like me, but had teamed up two weeks ago in Mauritania.

Our Timbuktu sleeping quarters

Our Timbuktu sleeping quarters

After dropping our bags at the house of a young Malian guide who lets travelers sleep at on his terrace for cheap, we set off to explore Timbuktu. We saw the post office, the mosque and a monument or two, but quickly discovered what other toubabs had warned. Ed, an English university student, was the first to say it out loud: “There’s nothing to do in Timbuktu.”

Nothing that is, except ride on a camel, which the five of us did the following day. Turns out it’s quite uncomfortable, but makes for great photos.

Riding a camel in the desert near Timbuktu

Riding a camel in the desert near Timbuktu

We rode the camels to a nearby village, which consisted of three huts and a water pump, and we spent most of the day under a tent avoiding the hot sun. Lunch was included in the trip, but it was a sore disappointment: sandy rice with bits of something we surmised was goat stomach. Only two of us — myself not included — could choke it down.

Sandstorm approaches.

Sandstorm approaches.

We had hoped to return to Timbuktu at sunset, figuring the setting of the desert sun would be beautiful. But we got something better: a sandstorm!

The sky began to turn orange and suddenly we were in the middle of the storm. I was working hard to keep my face covered, but I managed to get a few shots of our hurried ride back to the city.

Ed and Cedric during the sandstorm.

Ed and Cedric sporting their turbans.

Headed back to Timbuktu in the sandstorm.

Headed back to Timbuktu in the sandstorm.

Advertisements