A reporter for The Washington Post has a very entertaining and informative article on the road to Timbuktu —
“Then, as the sun dipped below the horizon, the truck beached itself on a mound of hard sand between the tire tracks. We spun the wheels to no avail. We had no shovel and no batteries for the flashlight. As darkness fell, Frabah, looking quite fatigued and coughing miserably, worked to clear a path in front of the truck, using the tire iron for a tool. I wriggled underneath with the butter knife and dug at the sun-baked sand blocking the axles, chipping off chunks the size of grapefruits.”
Sounds taxing. Luckily there’s light at the end of this ordeal:
“I spent two days sifting through several troves of Arabic manuscripts dating back to the 12th century. Abdoul Kader Haidara, a local collector who inherited 3,000 texts from his parents, showed me illuminated copies of the Koran, poems written on camel skin and essays on law, medicine, astronomy and music — evidence of a vibrant cultural life in sub-Saharan Africa at a time when the streets of Europe were overrun with rats.”
Wouldn’t it be much better if you could reach this fabled city by chartered plane flight, after a relaxing cruise aboard an elegant yacht along the rivers of West Africa? We thought so. That’s why we designed our trip The Road to Timbuktu and the Rivers of West Africa — so you can have all of the pleasure, and none of this reporter’s pains.