The popular statement, " From here to Timbuktu." conjures up images of remote, isolated and distant parts of this earth. The actual Timbuktu is in Mali, but Wikitravel doesn't offer much in terms of getting there.

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Obviously it's remote, in some ways it's 'the ultimate destination' for people looking to get lost in isolated places. I've only met one person who has been there, and his trip involved several vehicles and camels(!).

So let's take a starting point reasonably far away - Vancouver, Canada. Where I happen to be right now. I'm considering a NW Africa trip next year, and if I do, I'd dearly love to get to Timbuktu. What would be the most efficient / sensible way of getting there, while on a minimal budget?

  • If it was easy to get there there wouldn't be much point in the saying, now would there?:)
    – littleadv
    May 15, 2012 at 22:55
  • 4
    I would wait a few more years. Northern Mali is controlled by a Tuareg rebellion, and westerners are at serious risk of of being abducted or killed. May 15, 2012 at 23:01
  • Oh I never said it'd be easy ;) Allegedly the name comes from 'tin' being place and 'baktu' being the woman who lived there, but like many its true origins have probably been lost.
    – Mark Mayo
    May 15, 2012 at 23:01
  • (that was addressed to littleadv). To Gilles - yes there's a giant warning on Wikitravel, but things could improve, and in the meantime, nothing like a little dreaming and a little planning.
    – Mark Mayo
    May 15, 2012 at 23:09
  • 1
    Maybe off topic, but I would think twice before going to Mali in 2012.
    – mouviciel
    May 16, 2012 at 7:08

1 Answer 1


First, your picture shows the Great Mosque of Djenne, which is not in Timbuktu but in the city of Djenne, also in Mali but a good 500 km away.

At any rate, pretty much the only sensible route for access to Timbuktu is to fly from Vancouver to Paris (seasonal direct flights on Air Transat, otherwise you'll need to transit in Toronto/Montreal), from there to Bamako, and then to Timbuktu. Given its location smack dab in the middle of the Sahara, getting there overland will cost you way more. You could conceivably do the last leg from Bamako to Timbuktu on local transport, but it's a long, long way on really, really bad roads. And of course this all assumes the rebellion is sorted out.

  • that's what I get for google image searching. I thought it looked familiar :/ I'll change the image now.
    – Mark Mayo
    May 15, 2012 at 23:37

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