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The Cruellest Journey: 600 Miles By Canoe To The Legendary City Of Timbuktu

The Cruellest Journey: 600 Miles By Canoe To The Legendary City Of Timbuktu

Author(s): Kira Salak

Location(s): Mali, Timbuktu

Genre(s): Autobiography/Memoirs

Era(s): Contemporary

‘In the beginning, my journeys feel at best ludicrous, at worst insane. This one is no exception.’ Kira Salak recently became the first person to successfully canoe 600 miles down the River Niger from Old Ségou to Timbuktu – the golden city of the Middle Ages, and, legend has it, the doorway to the end of the world – in Mali, West Africa. Enduring tropical storms, hippos, rapids, the unrelenting heat of the Sahara desert and the mercurial moods of this notorious river, she travelled alone through one of the most desolate regions in Africa where little had changed since British explorer Mungo Park was taken captive by Moors in 1797. Dependent on local people for food and shelter, each night she came ashore to stay in remote mud-hut villages on the Niger’s banks, meeting Dogon sorceresses and tribes who were alternately welcoming and hostile, so remarkable was the sight of an unaccompanied white woman paddling all the way to Timbuktu. In one instance she barely escaped from men who chased after her in wooden canoes, but she finally arrived, weak but triumphant, at her fabled destination. There, she fulfilled her ultimate goal by buying the freedom of two Bella slaves with gold. THE CRUELLEST JOURNEY is a compelling memoir and a meditation on self-will by a young adventurer without equal, whose writing is as thrilling as her life.

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Enter the 2021TripFiction 'Sense of Place' Creative Writing Competition!

A story in which the location plays as important a role as the rest of your words.

2,500 word maximum, 750 word minimum

Judges include Victoria Hislop and Rosanna Ley

First Prize of £1,000 / US$1,350

Prizes total £1,750 / US$2,362 

Winning entry published on TripFiction site and publicised on Social Media

Entries close 6th November 2021