On 18 August 1826 Alexander Gordon Laing became the first European to reach the city of Timbuktu, having crossed the Sahara to do so. He'd survived a savage attack by Tuareg nomads on his journey from Tripoli to Timbuktu, but was murdered two days after leaving the city (23 September 1826).
"My Dear Consul:- A very short epistle must serve to apprise you, as well as my dearest Emma, of my arrival at ... the great capital of central Africa ... which events took place on the 18th ultimo ... I have abandoned all thoughts of retracing my steps to Tripoli, and came here with an intention of proceeding to Jenne by water; but this intention has been entirely upset, and my situation in Timbuctoo rendered exceedingly unsafe by the unfriendly dispositions of the Foulahs ... whose sultan, Bello, has expressed his hostility to me in no unequivocal terms in a letter [to] Al Saidi Boubokar, the sheik of this town ... Al Saidi Boubokar, who is an excellent good man, and who trembles for my safety, has strongly urged my immediate departure. And I am sorry to say, that the notice has been so short, and I have so much to do previous to going away, that this is the only communication I shall for the present be able to make. My destination is Sego, whither I hope to arrive in fifteen days; but I regret to say that the road is a vile one, and my perils are not yet at an end; but my trust is God, who has hitherto borne me up amidst the severest trials, and protected me amidst the numerous dangers to which I have been exposed. I have no time to give you any account of Timbuctoo, but shall briefly state, that in every respect, except in size, (which does not exceed four miles in circumference), it has completely met my expectations ... I have been busily employed during my stay, searching the records in the town, which are abundant, and in acquiring information of every kind; nor is it with any common degree of satisfaction that I say my perseverance has been amply rewarded."
From a letter written by Alexander Gorden Laing to his father-in-law, Hanmer Warrington, the British Consul in Tripoli, September 21, 1826.