Lesson 6: Trekking to Timbuktu: The Search for Timbuktu (Student Version)

After a rich history as a center of commerce and scholarship, the West African city of Timbuktu began a period of decline in the 16th century. In time, like the other major centers along the overland routes of West Africa, Timbuktu was forgotten. In later centuries, stories about these remote "lost cities" piqued the curiosity of many Europeans. Certain intrepid adventurers set out to rediscover them.

Many people think that Timbuktu is a mythical place—even today! Years ago, the search for the “lost city” of Timbuktu brought many adventurers to their deaths! These are the kinds of stories that attract huge television audiences! So, continuing your investigation as a scout for Globe Trekker, you set out to learn more about the search for Timbuktu.

Guiding Questions

What factors contributed to the decline of Timbuktu?

What myths and misconceptions about the city were held by Europeans?

What obstacles made a journey to Timbuktu very difficult?

Who was the first European to make it to Timbuktu in the 19th century?

Learning Objectives

Explain the reasons for the decline and fall of Timbuktu

Describe some of the mistaken views held by Europeans about the city

Discuss the difficulties of getting to Timbuktu

Describe how the first European got to Timbuktu and what he saw there