Timbuktu in Mali was a center of trade and learning during medieval times. Some buildings remain from its heyday, and it’s still an important stop for salt caravans which travel from Taoudenni in the winter. Timbuktu is difficult to get to although the journey is half the fun. Ironically for a desert town, the most common way to get to Timbuktu is by boat down the Niger river.
Best time to go is during the Festival in the Desert in Essakane and also try and catch the festival, Curee Salee in Ingall, Niger across the border.
Coastal Forts, Ghana
Victoria Rd, Cape Coast, Ghana
Ghana’s Atlantic Coast is lined with old forts (castles) built by various European powers during the 17th Century. Initially, the forts were used to store goods for export such as gold, ivory, and spices. Later the slave-trade turned many forts into prison dungeons. European powers fought among themselves for control over the forts and they changed hands numerous times over the next few centuries.
Two forts that shouldn’t be missed are St George’s Castle in Elmina and Cape Coast Castle and Museum. The castle was the headquarters for the British colonial administration for nearly 200 years.
Some of the forts have even been turned into guesthouses offering basic accommodation.
Sine-Saloum Delta, Senegal
The Sine-Saloum Delta lies in the southwest of Senegal. It’s a large area of mangrove forests, lagoons, islands, and rivers. A highlight for visitors to this region is taking a boat ride up the rivers to spot pelicans and flamingos and enjoy the lovely fishing villages along the way. There are baobab trees, sandy beaches, and lots of forest animals including monkeys to enjoy.
Palmarin has some wonderful hotels to stay at. Check out the luxurious Royal Lodge or the Lodge des Collines de Niassam where you can sleep in a baobab tree house. Deeper into the mangroves, you can also stay at an eco-lodge run by several local villages, Keur Bamboung.