The African Route (Timbuktu – Cairo – Mecca)

African route map

Matt Bigg

Cairo was a hub for pilgrims travelling to Mecca from North and West Africa. Pilgrims would travel together in great caravans for safety. The Hajj route from Cairo to Mecca rose to prominence in the Mamluk era (1250–1517). The Mamluk sultans ruled from Cairo and had control over the Hijaz and the holy cities. In addition to the pilgrims from Egypt, the convoys also included the Hajj caravans from North and West Africa.

The custom of the caravan is to travel much and rest little...except in some places where for respect of water they sometimes rest a day and a half to refresh themselves. Otherwise both man and beast would die.
Anonymous account, about 1575.


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Arts and Humanities Research Council