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Cruelest Journey: Six Hundred Miles To Timbuktu Hardcover – November 1, 2004
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Salak's second travel memoir--her first, Four Corners (2001), chronicled her trip deep into Papua New Guinea--takes her down the Niger River to Timbuktu, following the trail of Scottish explorer Mungo Park, who more than 200 years before attempted the same journey. Salak decides to take the journey alone on a kayak, hoping to recapture Park's sense of wonder and determination. Her journey gets off to an inauspicious start when she injures her arm on the very first day of her journey. But Salak preseveres, and spends day in and day out paddling down the river. Along the way, she encounters various tribes, some friendlier than others, and grapples with her own reactions to some of their traditions, such as female genital mutilation. She also muses on Park's two difficult journeys down the river, seeking the elusive golden city of Timbuktu. Salak's trip is deeply personal, and she shares her fears, her triumphs, and her thoughts along the way with the reader, making it an accessible, involving journey for her audience. Kristine Huntley
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
About the Author
Kira Salak is a National Geographic Emerging Explorer and contributing editor to National Geographic Adventure magazine. A PEN Award–winning journalist, she has traveled alone to almost every continent, visiting some of the world's most remote places, including locations in Madagascar, Mozambique, Bangladesh, and Borneo. She was the first documented person to kayak solo 600 miles down West Africa's Niger River. Salak was also the first woman to traverse Papua New Guinea, a country she writes about in her New York Times Notable Book Four Corners. She lives with her husband and daughter in Germany.
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Kira Salak is an explorer and a risk taker. She loves to take solo voyages, quite often putting herself in dangers way. She says she is often fearful , but just makes herself accomplish what she has set out to do. This trip is a 600 mile journey she takes from Old Segou, Mali to Timbuktu, in an inflatable kayak and traveling on the Niger River. She wanted to take the route which was inspired by the Scottish explorer, Mungo Park (1771-1806). Throughout the book she would give us insight into his trip and state of mind and compare them to her experiences. National Geographic sponsored this trip, so she would meet up with a photographer every now and again to have her picture taken in different villages along the way, as she did not want someone to be with her constantly on the journey. A grueling trip in the start with an injured arm and constantly being harassed by villagers. Along the way, she found out which tribes were friendly and those who were hostile towards her, and had some pretty touchy situations to deal with throughout the journey. She always has an interesting and very readable story. I cannot wait for her next adventure.
National Geographic needed pictures of her doing so, therefore, at various locations, a photographer friend riding a motor boat would show up at her side and photograph her as she paddled along to her final destination.
She often thought about and envisioned the adventurer Mungo Park, who had tried to tackle this particular route of the Niger River centuries prior. Having studied his journey, she couldn't help wonder about his thoughts while coming across the many elements.
The journey Kira takes us on is quite interesting due to all the obstacles and the pleasures she endured.
Having to eat and sleep on this venture wasn't always easy.
She was truly out of her element with the native people on their river banks watching her.
There was curiosity in their eyes as she, a white woman, traveled all alone without a man,
down their most unique river.
Many villages had haunting histories with prior cruel and ruthless white people, turning their families into that of slavery.
Yet the deeper she traveled down the river, the more accustomed she was at distinguishing whether the people were welcoming or not, judging by their faces. If lucky enough and with the the offering of money to the tribe's leader, she was able to find the comforts of a nice meal, followed by luxury of a good night sleep in a village safe haven.
Unlike her predecessor Mungo Park, she succeeded in finishing her 600 mile destination in her inflateable craft, to a far off place that I had always heard of but never knew of being real.... that of Timbuktu!
But before she leaves final destination to head back home, she takes probably the most valuable time in her life to learn and realize that destinations are not all what they seem, until they are right there in front of you.
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who loves to read.
A real fun summer read of adventure. Its good to read about women explores as opposed to the usual man.