The Cruelest Journey: Six Hyndred Miles To Timbuktu

The Cruelest Journey: Six Hyndred Miles To Timbuktu

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by Kira Salak
     
 

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Kira Salak is a young woman with a history of seeking impossible challenges. She grew up relishing the exploits of the great Scottish explorer Mungo Park and set herself the daunting goal of retracing his fatal journey down West Africa's Niger river for 600 miles to Timbuktu. In so doing she became the first person to travel alone from Mali's Old Segou to "the golden…  See more details below

Overview

Kira Salak is a young woman with a history of seeking impossible challenges. She grew up relishing the exploits of the great Scottish explorer Mungo Park and set herself the daunting goal of retracing his fatal journey down West Africa's Niger river for 600 miles to Timbuktu. In so doing she became the first person to travel alone from Mali's Old Segou to "the golden city of the Middle Ages," and, legend has it, the doorway to the end of the world. In the face of the hardships she knew were to come, it is amazing that she could have been so sanguine about her journey's beginning: "I have the peace and silence of the wide river, the sun on me, a breeze licking my toes, the current as negligible as a faint breath. Timbuktu seems distant and unimaginable." Enduring tropical storms, hippos, rapids, the unrelenting heat of the Sahara desert and the mercurial moods of this notorious river, she traveled solo through one of the most desolate regions in Africa where little had changed since Mungo Park was taken captive by Moors in 1797. Dependent on locals for food and shelter, each night she came ashore to stay in remote mud-hut villages on the banks of the Niger, meeting Dogan sorceresses and tribes who alternately revered and reviled her- so remarkable was the sight of an unaccompanied white woman paddling all the way to Timbuktu. Indeed, on one harrowing stretch she barely escaped harm from men who chased her in wooden canoes, but she finally arrived, weak with dysentery, but triumphant, at her destination. There, she fulfilled her ultimate goal by buying the freedom of two Bella slaves with gold. This unputdownable story is also a meditation on self-mastery by a young adventuress withoutequal, whose writing is as thrilling as her life.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal - Library Journal
Undertaking a journey on the Niger River from Segou to Timbuktu in Mali is an astonishing feat unto itself. Salak's (Four Corners: A Journey into the Heart of Papua New Guinea) expedition is even more remarkable in that she traveled the 600 miles alone in an inflatable kayak. Sponsored by the National Geographical Society, Salak aimed to follow a route similar to that taken by the Scottish explorer Mungo Park in the late 1700s. Stroke by stroke, paragraph by paragraph, readers accompany Salak as she visits sorcerers, dodges hippopotami, fights dysentery, and witnesses slavery-like conditions. Her reception in numerous villages along the river ranged from open arms to open hostility. Throughout, Salak paints a vivid portrait of the land, its people, and their varying cultures. Seamlessly blending her own flowing narrative with reflections on Park's expedition in the l800s, Salak offers readers an exciting anthropological and geographical comparison. With elements of travel, drama, and history, this book leaves readers with respect for the author's incredible stamina and dedication to this most unusual goal. Recommended for public libraries.-Jo-Anne Mary Benson, Osgoode, Ont. Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780792274575
Publisher:
National Geographic Society
Publication date:
11/01/2004
Pages:
320
Product dimensions:
6.23(w) x 9.33(h) x 0.88(d)

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The Cruelest Journey: Six Hyndred Miles To Timbuktu 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
KristyMcCaffrey More than 1 year ago
Having read Ms. Salak's previous nonfiction book, FOUR CORNERS, I was so pleased to find a level of maturity and wisdom in this book that was lacking in the other. In FOUR CORNERS, she seemed both lost and driven in her pursuit to explore Papua New Guinea, and took unnecessary risks that not even she could understand why. But in THE CRUELEST JOURNEY, we have a woman who can articulate why she would undertake such a dangerous journey (traveling the Niger River by kayak, facing village after village of possibly hostile natives). Weaving in the story of an 18th century Scottish explorer named Mungo Park who also undertook this journey, we're given a glimpse into the wonder and madness that accompanies intrepid travelers that spans the ages. I really loved this book, and I appreciate Ms. Salak's candor in sharing herself and her experiences. We may not always agree with or understand her desire to explore remote parts of the world, but her courage (both on and off the page) lets us come along for the ride.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Loved the book it was a great adventure! Kira is a inspiration.