René Caillié (rənā´ kāyā´), 1799–1838, French explorer in Africa. He was the first European to visit Timbuktu and return. The son of poor French peasants, he was obsessed with the idea of seeing Timbuktu. After 11 years of preparation, he reached the desert city, disguised as a Muslim trader, and remained there two weeks.
See G. Welch, The Unveiling of Timbuctoo: The Astounding Adventures of Caillié (1938).