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A Journey Through West Africa

Timbuktu is the legendary African city known as a land of scholars, splendour, mystery, and a golden age in the Sahara Desert. But in the present day it is little more than a vaguely recognizable name - a flippant reference to "the most remote place on earth." With this fabled city as his goal, author Rick Antonson began a month-long trek. The initial plan? To get a haircut.

Aided by an adventuresome spirit, Rick endures a forty-five-hour train ride, a swindling travel agent, "third world, three-lane" roads, rivers, and a flat deck ferry boat before finally reaching Timbuktu. Rick narrates the history of this elusive destination through the teachings of his Malian guide, Zak, while also coming face-to-face with its modern-day realities: a city gripped by poverty, where historic manuscripts and treasures lie close to the sands of destruction. Both a travelogue and a history of a place long forgotten, To Timbuktu for a Haircut emerges as a plea to preserve the past and open the cultural dialogues on a global scale.

  • July 1, 2013

  • ISBN: 9781620875674

  • Available in hardcover, paperback, eBook and audiobook editions


Rick Antonson’s classic travel memoir

​Chicago Tribune


"Anyone planning a trip to Africa should put Antonson’s book on their packing list right after malaria tablets.

National Post


In the magical-travel-names-department, Timbuktu undoubtedly holds the trump card – Marrakesh, Kathmandu, or Zanzibar are mere runners-up – but Rick Antonson’s trek to the fabled desert city proves that dreamtime destinations are found in our minds just as much as on our maps.

Tony Wheeler, co-founder of Lonely Planet and author of Bad Lands: A Tourist on the Axis of Evil


The remarkable combination of Rick Antonson exploring the ancient mysteries of Timbuktu matched with the rich culture of Mali that he captures so well … makes a page-turner from start to finish.

—Jerry W. Bird, editor, Africa Travel Magazine


Great characters, great stories, and truly great adventures. Not to mention…a great read.

Peter Greenberg, Travel Editor


To Timbuktu for a Haircut is a great read – a little bit of Bill Bryson, a little bit of Michael Palin, and quite a lot of Bob Hope on the road to Timbuktu.

Professor Geoffrey Lipman, former assistant secretary-general of the United Nations World Tourism Organization

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