Today we’re launching Timbuktu to the world. We’re revolutionizing the way travelers plan their safaris. How? By handing over complete control to the customer, empowering travelers to design their own trips in Africa, their way.
For years, travelling to Africa has been complex and overwhelming to research and more than a little tricky to book independently. In fact, the only viable way to travel to Africa’s wild places has been with the help of a traditional agent. At Timbuktu we’re on a mission to change all that and instead want to empower you, our curious travelers, to easily design your own trip, your way.
So how does Timbuktu work?
Our site allows you to design and customise your own trips from a selection of curated routes across Africa and hundreds of handpicked lodges. Once complete, your individually-designed trip is then sent to our team of travel experts who, using their expertise and knowledge, will iron out the creases and book all your arrangements.
We believe that planning a trip to Africa is easy, fun and exhilarating. The process should be simple and you should be involved from the beginning.
So really, all that’s left to do is start designing your safari! Have look at our routes to get you started or if you’re already an Africa guru, start creating a trip from scratch. Your dream safari really is only a few clicks away…
So please check us out, start exploring Africa and I’m happy to answer any questions.
CEO & co-founder, Timbuktu
P.S. We’re hiring, check out our careers page
@johnny_prince blown away by the website and the amount of information and knowledge you guys provide. I feel like the African travel space has needed something like this for a long time! One question I have is how are you able to provide the same personal service as a standard travel agent if everything is done online?
@vince_dickson I'm so pleased you've enjoyed the experience on Timbuktu. We are very focused on providing the best service possible for our guests. Although we use technology to give people the power to design their own trip, saving them time and money, our travel experts are on hand 24/7 to take care of all the details and help our guests refine their trip until it’s absolutely perfect. Thanks! Johnny
Guys, I love this website. Seen it evolve through the years and it's looking ACE 👌
I was wondering, do you envision it always being high end safaris and get aways, or is this a stepping stone to something like !kayak
@ajmccall thanks so much for your kind words. Our short term vision is focused on Africa travel, changing how safaris are discovered and booked, allowing people to design their own trips. Long term, our mission is to empower travellers to experience the far-flung corners of the world. Whether that be trips to the remote corners of Patagonia or island hopping in Southeast Asia. In the same way that Kayak has made booking flights so easy, we’re wanting to make travel to remote places easy and accessible. Thanks again so much for your support! Johnny
@ajmccall Thanks for the awesome feedback!
Like Johnny said.. We're starting off with african safaris as a niche but expanding into other remote locations soon!
This looks like an awesome platform and I'm planning a safari right now in South Africa as a matter of interest. Just curious how your technology caters for pricing?
@edward_barrow glad you're enjoying Timbuktu and that's exciting you're planning a trip to South Africa! We've developed an algorithm that gives a price estimate for your entire trip based on your dates of travel, including flights within Africa, transfers and your accommodation. We're trying to be as transparent as possible, allowing you to get a very clear indication of cost and allow you to make an informed choice about where to travel and where to stay. Let us know if you need any help or advice with your trip! Johnny
I'm the tech co-founder for Timbuktu and I thought I would give some details on the tech stack behind Timbuktu in case any of you are interested.
The front-end is built in ember.js which has been really awesome for us as we have been able to keep abreast of developments in the software world as ember has been upgraded over the years while still being able to rely on essentially the same core architecture.
On the server side we use node.js to actually serve up the app with an api built using Ruby on Rails.
All the data is safely stored in a Postgres database.
Basically as a team we value convention of configuration and frameworks like emberjs and Rails that have enabled us to be productive even though we're a small team by standing on the shoulders of giants! ... aka the framework contrbutors
Congratulations on the launch Johnny and the team, it all sounds very exciting! I'm a massive fan of African travel and safari in-particular! I was looking through the site and noticed a camp I had visited wasn't listed. Is possible to organise staying at a camp or lodge that isn't on the site?
@ross_johnson1 great to hear from you and thanks so much for the kind words! We're working hard to showcase what we see as the best selection of safari camps and hotels across Africa and we've now got over 1,500 recommended lodges to choose from. That said if there's a lodge we don't have or you're wanting to stay at a friend's place you can click "Add new stage" and choose "Own Arrangements" when you're designing a trip. Hope that helps and let us know how you get on! Johnny
Great platform guys....have used multiple times to organise some amazing trips in Africa. What about the rest of the world? Any plans...
@rhys_evans thanks so much and glad you've already been using Timbuktu to plan your trips in Africa! We definitely see the similarities with what we're building for Africa and the problems that exist for travel to other remote places like Latin America. At this point we're focused on Africa travel but we're definitely looking to expand our product offering to other regions at some point in the future. Thanks again for your support, Johnny
Hey team Timbuktu - Just curious about the name. How did you guys come up with it and what story does it tell about your awesome product?
@alistair_thornton thanks for getting in touch. There's an old saying ‘From here to Timbuktu’ which is commonly used to describe some remote, hard-to-reach, mythical place. Our core mission is to empower curious travellers to experience far-flung corners of Africa, so we felt there was a good fit with the name Timbuktu. Sadly we don't offer trips to Timbuktu yet, but that's in the making!
There’s so much noise out there with booking trips, this is such a great tool to get the best of Africa without the hassle!
@scott_sloan thanks so much for your thoughts and so glad you're enjoying Timbuktu! As you highlight, we're focused on really trying to simplify the process of discovering and booking the best experiences across Africa, no matter how remote or logistically difficult they are to access. Let us know how you get on with your trip creation!
I live in Kenya and organise trips for friends and family a few times a year but always get frustrated with either the cost of an agent or the lack of self-service online options, hoping Timbuktu (nice name btw) can help with my next trip.
One question though, often I can find the safari camps or beach hotels I want to book, but the really fiddly part is sorting the flights, taxis etc in-between... can Timbuktu help with this?
@timwiththebo thanks for getting in touch and glad you like our name! That's awesome you live in Kenya and obviously understand the frustrations we're on a mission to address with planning trips. We're focused on really putting you, the traveller, in complete control of the discovery and trip design, whilst streamlining the booking process to save you time and money along the way. Regarding the logistics, getting from safari camp A to B, we handle all of that, giving you an all-in cost for your entire trip. You design the route and add your lodges, our team of experts do the rest. Feel free to get in touch whenever you'd like any help, Johnny
@johnny_prince this is awesome, will definitely try you guys the next time I'm booking friends or family in for a trip to Kenya and beyond
Looking great guys!
@mine_jonker Thanks! It has been an amazing journey for us! We can't wait to carry on and expand Timbuktu to other destinations!
@mine_jonker thanks so much for getting in touch! Johnny
Hey guys. I'd love to be able to book direct online. Is this in the pipeline?
@thomas_harries thanks so much for getting in touch. In terms of booking we’re definitely working towards making the booking process even easier and at some point we’d love to allow people to book instantly. At the moment we’re focused on the discovery and planning aspect of the product, giving people the choice and control to design their own trips online, with the support from our travel experts. Hope you enjoy using the site. Thanks, Johnny
Selen Bayram Genç
@selen_genc Thanks so much! Have you tried designing a trip?
Ben Flint Hulme
I think this platform is amazing. A great UX and very clean and simple. I imagine this model could be applied to any region globally where the area is fragmented and difficult to liaise directly with accommodation and experience providers. E.g. South America, Pacific Islands, Asia etc.
The one critical thing I think is missing is bringing to the fore the cost saving people make by using Timbuktu vs. boutique travel agents. My brother in law just booked his honeymoon with Timbuktu and was raving about the amount of money he has saved. I think this is such a key benefit.
All in all a great product.