Stalked by crocodiles, charged by hippos, attacked by African killer bees, Mark Jenkins tells of the first descent of the Niger River in West Africa. In 1991 author Mark Jenkins, along with three companions and an intuitive African guide, set out to find the lost source of the Niger. Smuggling in weapons for protection, the team crossed into war ...
Stalked by crocodiles, charged by hippos, attacked by African killer bees, Mark Jenkins tells of the first descent of the Niger River in West Africa. In 1991 author Mark Jenkins, along with three companions and an intuitive African guide, set out to find the lost source of the Niger. Smuggling in weapons for protection, the team crossed into war-torn Sierra Leone, found the fountainhead, dropped in their kayaks and set off. During their journey they passed through villages where every female child has had a clitoridectomy; stumbled upon a brotherhood of blind men living alone in the bush and danced by firelight with a hundred women. And yet To Timbuktu is far more than an adventure book, it is a story about the meaning of friendship, fear, struggle, loss and tragically, death. Interweaving the tales of his own journey with the stories of the early explorers who tried to reach Timbuktu - men of unconquerable will, vanity and perseverance who would die beheaded, speared or eaten alive - Jenkins examines the why of adventure. Why do humans risk their lives for seemingly futile goals? To Timbuktu has the answers.
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Publishers Weekly, 1997-04-07 Mark and Mike are friends, both skilled climbers, swimmers, boaters and explorers, who one day decide to find the headwaters of the Niger River and make their way to Timbuktu. So little is known about this river that it is still uncertain whether it runs east or west, but the dangers of the expedition are attested to by records of many who did not survive starvation, fevers, crocodiles, hostile tribes, heat. With two other friends and mountains of gear, including tents, medical supplies, guns and collapsible kayaks, they set out, leaving their pregnant wives, both of whom were about to go into labor back home in Wyoming. A skeptical but knowledgeable guide safely shepherds them through desert, jungle and native villages where tribal chieftains are hospitable. They join tribal dances, survive exhaustion, blistered feet and attacks from insects and bees and at last stumble on the tiny subsurface pool where the Niger begins. Following it to where they can launch their kayaks, they paddle for days down treacherous, crocodile-infested waters. Eventually bored and exhausted, they decide they've had enough, but rather than abandon their ultimate goal, the author motorcycles across the Sahara to Timbuktu. This is a gripping adventure filled with the ambiance of still-wild Africa, its villages and people, all elegantly described by Jenkins, an editor for Backpacker. Photos. (June) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
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