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From Mopti this morning we began our trek to Timbuktu. This road trip provided a full-body experience; it was bumpy, dusty, unmarked, and long - should we have expected anything else? Due to banditry on the main road, we drove on a back route. Believe it or not, a place like Timbuktu has a back route. Our driver constantly scanned the horizon and drove with the pedal pressed to the floor. Two weeks ago a group of Tuareg bandits ambushed a tourist convoy. They shot dead the drivers and guide. Our driver didn't want to be the next casualty (many drivers refused to make this trip) so he drove like a mad man. Each passenger of our three-truck convoy had a concussion from hitting the rooftop and coughing convulsions from the dust. After 10 hours of this offroad bump-a-thon, at times forging a new road through the sandy Sahel, we arrived in Timbuktu. The city's border the guards wanted a 5000 CFA bribe per person ($7 US dollars). Our guide refused to pay and put up enough of a fuss until the guards let us pass for nothing. Our first thoughts upon entering Timbuktu, "Is this it?"
We passed a lone, mounted Tuareg nomad on the way. Camels provide the most comfortable way to travel in this region.
To reach Timbuktu we needed to cross the inland Niger River delta. Never expected to get our feet wet in the desert.
Timbuktu skyline. Take our word for it, this is not a party town.
For safety reasons we camped on the roof of this hotel.