Timbuktu trans-Sahara via France/Spain/Morocco/Western Sahara/Mauritania/Mali:
February - March 2002
The mission: The sign was not turned
around to be read until we reached
Timbuktu - so as not to tempt fate
Hand-painted road sign, Mauritania
Click on Thumbnails to enlarge photos
Proof of mission accomplished - 'welcome to Timbuktu'
Timbuktu is considered to be one of the most difficult places to get to on Earth by surface travel. Apart from the long distance, you have to contend with such things as
the planet's biggest desert, extreme heat, choking talc-fine dust, remoteness, desert anxiety, plagues of insects, sand-storms, flash-floods, red-tape, corruption, swamps,
malaria, minefields and bandits etc.
Me, Sue and Roger took 5 weeks to drive to Timbuktu and back - over 10,000 miles, passing through some of the most difficult environment on Earth. To achieve the
ambitious schedule we had to typically drive 10-12 hours per day, often a dusty 55 degrees Centigrade/131 degrees Fahrenheit behind the wheel - phew, what a scorcher !
Farewell Europe and hello Africa - Gibraltar
The 'kissing camels' of Tan-Tan in Morocco
This is the 'Old Spanish Road' - the only
open route cross-border between Morocco
and Mauritania, but best not to stray off it
as this is a minefield !
This Land Rover strayed off the 'Old Spanish
Road' and paid the ultimate price in the
Waiting for the Landy repair man - Mali
Mosque in Timbuktu, circa 1500 AD
Landy being checked out in Bamako, Mali
Overnight camp in Mali
Tree climbing goats in Morocco
Got stuck in Mauritania, with local policeman
as a guide - ever get that sinking feeling ?
Sue & Roger kindly towed me out
Using a satellite-phone to call Land Rover
Assistance, Mali - excellent service received
Checking a well for water - Sahara desert,
Sue very kindly brought along a surprise
cake and candles to mark my 40th birthday
Termite hills - sub-Sahara, Mali
Roger helps me repair my 12 volt mosquito
killer for night use sleeping in Landy - this is
malaria country
Jacques Gandini's Toyota - we met the
famous French author of many books on
Saharan overland travel - he said we could
not possibly make it in 5 weeks, but we did !
Overnight camp - Sahara desert, Mauritania
Sue & Roger's Toyota gets stuck and then
overheats - Sahara desert, Mauritania
Nomadic herders in Mali - very nice blokes.
We gave them some food in return for
camping on their undefined 'patch'
The incredibly long ore train between
Nouadhibou and Choum in Mauritania - you
follow the train track to avoid the minefields
The only way through Mauritania is a
100Km stretch along the beach - check the
tide tables, otherwise you get swamped
Overnight camp - Sahara desert, Mauritania
Roger perfects his technique of making tea
with his Volcano kettle using twigs and paper
Many ship-wrecks along the Atlantic coast -
Tan-Tan Plage fishing town in the background
Sue & Roger prepare dinner after our  
typical 10-12 hour daily drive
Sue presented these Malians with Polaroid
photos of themselves - they were very
pleased indeed
Marrakesh - Morocco: Koutoubia
mosque circa 1150 AD, the minaret is
75m high, a height to width ratio of 5:1,
defining the classic Moroccan design
Typical Timbuktu street scene
These Landys in Timbuktu are being used
for spare parts
These Landys in Timbuktu are bush taxis
and are still going strong after more than
30 years service
Roger & me discussing route, Mali
Sue made this mosquito cover for the rear
of the Land Cruiser - very useful indeed
Waiting for low tide before the beach run in
Mauritania - the run must be completed
before the next high tide !
Bay of shipwrecks, Nouadhibou, Mauritania
Bay of shipwrecks, Nouadhibou, Mauritania
Many thanks to Sue & Roger Shuttleworth for the
kind reproduction of many of these photos