Top 5 Must Do's in Timbuktu

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Timbuktu has become an iconic expression for a faraway, inaccessible exotic land and that is exactly what this mystical north African region is about. Here are some of the best places to see in this impoverished albeit curiosity-generating town.

1. Mosques of Timbuktu

There are innumerable mosques that tower the landscape of humble Timbuktu to offer some spectacular vistas. The main mosques worth visiting are Djingareiber Mosque that is also declared a world heritage, the Sankore Mosque, which has a imposing and impressive minarets and Sidi Yehia Mosque. The three mosques are located a stone’s throw away from each other. Tourists please note- some mosques don’t allow non-Islamic visitors, so check in advance with hotel staff or locals. 

2. Historic Houses of Early Explorers

Visit the quaint and charming abodes of erstwhile western explorers that graced the soil of Timbuktu. The structures have been beautifully preserved with commemorative plaques and traces of grand African exploratory voyages. The Heinrich Barth House has a small museum with vintage photographs and ancient memorabilia recounting tales of the explorer’s tryst with an exotic African land.

3. Timbuktu Museum

An interesting although not very well-maintained destination that features stunning ancient artifacts and items of contemporary folk art from the land’s ethnic artistic heritage. Watch out for the iconic cultural masks and quirky ritual objects that adorn the museum.

4. The Grand Marché

A typical exotic African market that is straight out of a fairytale, Grand Mache is a mammoth two-storied bazaar selling just about anything that can be purchased. Visitors can pick up an interesting mix of local relics along with traditional attire, jewelry, fresh local produce, exquisite handcrafted artifacts, household knickknacks, rare curios and other iconic African desert objects. Be sure to bargain to bag the best deals as local merchants always quote a higher price for tourists. The roof of the market offers the most vantage point view of Timbuktu town and the desert stretch.

5. Sunset Camel Tours

Hire a camel and Tuareg and embark on a beautiful sunset tour to wander through the charming dunes of Timbuktu and visit the Tuareg camps and town bordering regions. If you have the time, take a tour of several days to relish the true magic of a nomadic desert life.

Timbuktu is a dramatic mass of a desert landscape that, though not economically prosperous, is a striking cache of cultural exotics and an epitome of the unreachable African land.

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