Trip Start Sep 28, 2005
103Trip End Jun 24, 2006
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Yes, we're here in Timbuktu (Tombouctou in French), on the southern fringe of the Sahara Desert. The place does exist, and was a major terminal for trans-Sahara camel caravans trading salt and spices, beginning in about 1100 and continuing through the Songhai Empire. One of the first universities was based here, and at its zenith Timbuktu had over 100,000 residents. Word of the fabled city reached Europe in about 1500, and the name became (and still is) synonymous with exotic mystery and wealth at the end of the known world. The first Europeans reached here in 1824.
Nowadays, it is just a small, dusty town at the edge of the Sahara, whose name far outpaces its actual importance. Nevertheless, we can say we've been to Timbuktu! And the next time you get upset with someone and want to send them to Timbuktu, contact us and we can point them to a place to stay and get a cold Coke.