Aeroplane SAAB 340 and its interior thats flies Bamako-Timbuktu-Bamako
I wanted to go Timbuktu for so long. First time I know about Timbuktu was in 1992 after reading one article in NST. I think I still have this article kept in one of the boxes in the store room.
Now I am in Bamako, capital city of Mali. Mali is land of Timbuktu. Finally, I decided to go since I am so near to Timbuktu. As I going alone, its better to take aeroplane to Timbuktu rather than travel on land by 4WD. If travel by 4WD, it will take you 24 hours to reach Timbuktu, but if I stop overnight at Mopti for rest and sleep then it will take 2 days. So I booked one return journey air ticket for CAM from Delta Voyages. It cost about FCFA195,000 (EUR300).
Yirimadio, Bamako from the air. The road and land near airport of Bamako Senou
The scheduled departure time is 7.15am, so I reached airport Bamako Senou at 5.30am, but the police did not allowed me to enter as the check-in counter, are yet to open. Around half an hour later then the check-in counter open, I check-in as normal procedure, but one the officer there issued me the disembarkation card and he told me fill up and handed over to the immigration police. I thought this domestic flight not necessary to fill the form but not only that the immigration police stamped ‘depart’ on my passport.
The farm and agriculture plots and a villa from the air
I waited at the departure hall, with about another 20 passengers. Until the specified time to depart, no sign of aeroplane on the tarmac as I look out to the parking apron. Today the weather is not hot but rain drizzling. Then 10 minutes later one CAM’s boeing aeroplane landed and taxing to the parking apron. Oh no that too big for carrying 20 passengers to Timbuktu. At this moment, rain went heavy for next 30 minutes. Actually that aeroplane mean for the President of the Republic for his official overseas trip as the red carpet laid and the parking apron suddenly surrounded by group of army
Niger river and its delta around Segou
Last night I hardly sleep. I worry that I cannot wake early, but with help of the alarm clock I woke up at 4.00am. After shower solat Faj’r and simple breakfast, the time already almost 5.00pm. Idrissa, the chauffeur and my friend, Coulibally actually woke up earlier than me, willing to send me to the airport.
View of villages in Mopti
Finally an announcement was made at 8.30am that the flight to Timbuktu delayed without mentioning the rescheduled time. Around 9.20am I saw one small aeroplane landed. Yes that CAM’s logo on it. 20 minutes later all the passengers to Timbuktu boarded the aeroplane.
View of the land near Airport of Mopti at Sevaré. Landed in Mopti’s Hambodedjo Airport after 80 minutes flying from Bamako. Stop for refuelling and some passengers end the journey and some get in here
Flight from Bamako to Mopti was not really smooth as the flight flown through the cloudy sky. The flight took a stop at Mopti as some passengers took down here and and new passengers come in from Mopti to Timbuktu. The aeroplane also took time to re-fuelling.
The flight from Mopti to Timbuktu was very smooth as the weather here was dry. After 45 minutes later at 1.10pm we landed at Timbuktu’s Airport. Yes finally I landed in Timbuktu. Timbuktu, here I come
Aerial view of land oin Timbuktu. Landed in Timbuktu’s airport at 1.10pm after flying 45 minutes from Mopti
Actually there are three ways how to go to Timbuktu from Bamako:
Option 1 by land – You can come in a 12 to 24 hours trip by car or have a 4WD as some part of the road suitable for 4WD.
The aeroplane waiting at the tarmac and interior view of the Timbuktu’s Airport
Option 2 by boat or pinasse – You can catch one of the many tourist pinasses from Mopti. Cruise by pinasses along Niger River take 3 days and 2 nights to get. During tourist season there will be plenty of people waiting to go so you can group 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.
Option 3 by aeroplane – There are several airlines company flying from Bamako to Timbuktu airport. One of them is Compagnie Arrienne du Mali (CAM) flying to Timbuktu on every Wednesday, Friday and Saturday and flying back to Bamako on every Thursday, Friday and Sunday.
Au revoir Tombouctou. Je reviendrai. AlHadi TOURE, sit proudly with his motorcycle. He is the tour guide and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org and cellphone (+223)6042176
After 4 days in Timbuktu, I have to go back to Bamako. Al hade Toure @ Chicago, my tour guide quite punctual and by 6.00am he already on my hotel’s door and he sent me to the airport with his motorcycle. At first I little bit worry as past experience flying in Africa always encounter something unexpected. When I reached the Timbuktu I saw the aeroplane on the tarmac. I feel relieve, if not the next flight is 3 days later. Infact another passengers flying with another airline went back to the hotel as their aeroplane that suppossed to be landed yesterday did not arrived. I have flown back to Bamako at 7.45am 15 minutes earlier than the scheduled departure.
Tourism Office of Timbuktu provide free service of stamping on your passport to mark that you have visited Timbuktu. Yes, I was in Timbuktu. Finally the aeroplane landed safely in Bamako-Senou ariport.
“For some people when you say Timbuktu it is like the ends of the world, but this is not true. I am from Timbuktu and I can tell you we are right at the heart of the world” – Ali Farka TOURE, music legend of Mali (Ali Farka Touré 1994’s album ‘Talking Timbuktu’ in collaboration with Ry Cooder won Grammy Award and his 2005’s album ‘In the Heart of the Moon’ a collaboration with Toumani Diabaté won his second Grammy Award).