Lesson Plan

Lesson 1: Trekking to Timbuktu: The Geography of Mali (Student Version)

Timbuktu from the terrace of the traveller's house in 1858.
Photo caption

Timbuktu from the terrace of the traveller's house in 1858.

The ancient city of Timbuktu lies in West Africa in the present-day nation of Mali. This is a region of varied landscapes, ranging from sizzling desert sands to tropical jungle. The Niger River that flows through Mali has been an important trading highway as well as a source of subsistence for the local people since very early times.

The first thing people back home will ask you is “Where in the world is Timbuktu?” Before you set out, better open up those maps and take a look.

You already know Timbuktu's in Mali, but where's Mali? And what's the landscape like there? How do you get around in Mali? And what's the weather like?

Guiding Questions

Where is Mali?

What are the major geographical features of Mali?

In what part of Mali is Timbuktu?

What critical roles has the Niger River played in the lives of the people of Mali?

Learning Objectives

Identify Mali on a world map.

Analyze the landscape and climate of Mali.

Analyze the effect of local weather on economics and culture in Timbuktu. 

Evaluate the economic significance of the Niger River.

Compare life along the Niger in ancient times to that of today.