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Timbuktu

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Travel Guide Africa Mali Timbuktu

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Introduction

Timbuktu is one of those names which makes you feel like going to exotic places immediately. Although Timbuktu itself is not as exotic as it may sound, the place itself has many attractions. It is the home of the Koranic Sankore University and other madrasas. The city was a centre of intellectuality and spirituality and for the propagation of Islam throughout Africa in the 15th and 16th centuries. The three mosques are a witness to Timbuktu's golden age. Timbuktu is on the Unesco World Heritage List.

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Sights and Activities

Mosques of Timbuktu

There are three main mosques in Timbuktu which are on the UNESCO World Heritage List. The Djingareiber Mosque (built between 1324 and 1327) is one of the most impressive and largest buildings in Mali. The Sankoré mosque has an impressive minaret and is worth a visit as well. The Sidi Yéhia Mosque is smaller but equally beautiful and all three mosques are within a short walk of each other. All of these mosques are made out of mud brick, which gives it extra charm and integrates perfectly into the surrounding desert. Please pay respect to local customs when taking photos.

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Events and Festivals

Desert Festival

This lively February music event's location may have moved from Essakane to Timbuktu, but the likes of Robert Plant and Justin Adams still perform alongside some of Mali’s most talented Tuareg musicians. The Desert Festival evolved from a traditional Tuareg gathering filled with lively discussions and fun to an international event of peace. To this day, festival attendees celebrate the 1996 Flame of Peace ceremony when over 3,000 firearms were burned in Timbuktu. Unlike many other music festivals, the stage is surrounded by nothing but desert and the audience remains still and quiet. The more lively parties begin at nearby discos during the wee hours of the night.

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Weather

Moonrise over Timbuktu

Moonrise over Timbuktu

© All Rights Reserved alsalis

Timbuktu has a hot and generally dry semi-desert climate with a short rainy season from June to September when there can be severe thunderstorms with occasional flooding. Rains can be unpredictable though and sometimes the rainy season means just a few showers now and then. The coolest time is between December and February. Temperatures still are between 30 °C and 35 °C during these months. April to June are very hot with average daytime temperatures of 42 °C, but maximums of 48 °C have been recorded in all of these months. Nights average between 13 °C in December and January to 27 °C in June.

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Getting There

By Plane

You can fly into Timbuktu Airport (IATA: TOM) from Bamako or Mopti and come by plane, although its schedule is extremely unreliable and unpredictable and flights are difficult to book from outside the country. Because of the conflict in the region, all flights are currently suspended.

By Car

You can come in a 12 to 24 hours trip by car from Mopti or have a hard 4x4 experience from Gao through the desert.

By Boat

You can catch one of the many tourist pinnaces from Mopti (or slightly further downstream if the water level is low) they take 3 days to get there and are comfortable (at least mine was). During tourist season there will be plenty of people waiting to go so you can club together to hire one of the pinnaces. At night you will be camping on the shore and there will likely be a cook on the boat, they even have 'toilets' at the back. There are also local boats running up and down stream regularly but they are a little more cramped, but probably a lot cheaper.

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Getting Around

There are taxis, camels and donkeys - and not much more. That said you can easily walk from one end of the city to the other in under an hour. All the mosques are located in the old town which can be walked across in just a few minutes.

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Eat

There are a number of bar/restaurants around, including one on top of the Grand Marche. There is also a patisserie opposite the post office.

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Drink

You'd better avoid drinks as they are prepared from local tap water and are hazardous to your body. Remember to drink bottled water from shops; if you must drink tap water, it would be wise to boil it first.

A variety of "Western" drinks are available for purchase, sometimes at hotels from the counter. Coca Cola, original, diet or zero will make you lose liquids more quickly than you consume the drink, but the original version of the drink can help to replace sugars. Fanta is also available, but sometimes is lesser supply than Coke.

Remember to keep drinking lots of water and carry a bottle with you at all times, even on short trips. Timbuktu can be extremely hot all year round and there are no bodies of water to cool off in, so your body is doing overtime on keeping yourself at a reasonable temperature.

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Keep Connected

Phone

See also International Telephone Calls

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Contributors

as well as hasbeen (13%), Sam I Am (2%)

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This is version 13. Last edited at 11:08 on May 29, 17 by Utrecht. 4 articles link to this page.

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