Timbuktu City Mali

Timbuktu City Mali

Timbuktu is a city in Mali, situated north of the Niger River. The town is the capital of the Timbuktu Region, one of the eight administrative regions of Mali.

Twenty km north of the River Niger is the ancient city of Timbuktu. What started out as a seasonal settlement in the 12th century soon became an important part of the Mali Empire by the 14th century. The trade-in gold, ivory, slaves, and salt helped the city to flourish, establishing it as an important learning and cultural center. However, over the centuries the city soon fell into decline as trade routes shifted, and today is a land that bears little resemblance to its past glory. Three of the oldest mosques in West Africa are found in Timbuktu as well as ancient manuscripts and books that are stored at the Centre de Recherche Historiques, Ahmed Baba, and several other libraries.

Things to do in Timbuktu City Mali

Timbuktu is real, and you can find it on the southern edge of the Sahara Desert in Mali, often called the “Crown of West Africa.” The city was an important center for Islamic thought in the 15th and 16th centuries. Although Timbuktu lost its status when conquered by Morocco and colonized by the French

The National Ahmed Baba Center for Documentation and Research in Timbuktu

Since its opening in 1973, the National Ahmed Baba Center for Documentation and Research (sum.uio.no) in Timbuktu plays a vital role in preserving the Islamic history of the Sudano-Sahelian zone of Africa through the conservation and dissemination of historical manuscripts.


Timbuktu is home to three mosques that aided in the spread of Islam throughout Africa in the 15th and 16th centuries. The most visible marker on Timbuktu’s skyline is the largest minaret of the Mosque of Djinguereber, which was built by Sultan Kankan Moussa in 1325 after he returned from a pilgrimage to Mecca.

Musee Municipal de Tombouctou

The Musée Municipal de Tombouctou (no website; Mali; 011-223-820-031), Timbuktu’s municipal museum, is an ethnographic museum that offers visitors the chance to view traditional items from Mali’s various ethnic groups, including weapons, ornaments, and musical instruments. Additionally, the museum displays examples of traditional clothing and jewelry.

Heinrich Barth’s House

One of the homes of famous German explorer Heinrich Barth is located in Timbuktu. Barth stood out from other European explorers who visited Africa in the 1800s because he was more interested in African culture and history than colonization, and he spent time exploring most of North and Central Africa.

Grande Marche

The Grand Marche, or “large market,” marks the center of Timbuktu. The Grande Marche is a covered market where locals gather on Mondays to trade goods. Although the market is not as glamorous as the souks that you find in North African countries such as Morocco, it is the best place to buy local goods as souvenirs.

How to get to Timbuktu City Mali

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

You can catch one of the many tourist pinasses 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 the tourist season, there will be plenty of people waiting to go so you can club together to hire one of the pinasses. 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.

Where to stay in Timbuktu City Mali

Hotel le Colombe, Bd Askia Mohammed Offers decent air-conditioned rooms.

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