Saga Tours - Travel to Mali and West Africa Bamako, Mali
West Africa
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Dogon masks dancing




baobab trees




Dogon hunters




Djenne mosque




river boat




weavers




local belle




traditional hunters





Mali Explorer Tour

· 3 days in Dogon country
· 2 days sailing the Niger River
· plus Djenne, Mopti, Segou and Bamako


11 days / 6 nights hotel, 4 nights camping
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Every tour is private, scheduled on dates of your choice; there are no fixed-date group departures.

Contact us for prices. Groups of any size are welcome. Be sure to specify the month/year of travel, and how many persons are in your party—prices are digressive, so a better value per person for a party of four than a party of two, etc.


ITINERARY
Day 1 Arrival in Bamako, MALI
International flight arrives in Bamako in the evening; our staff will meet you in the Arrivals hall of Bamako airport, and provide your hotel transfer; overnight in Bamako.
Grand Hotel, or similar (no meals)
Day 2 Bamako – Djenne (570 km; ~7½hrs)
Breakfast, then 08h00 AM departure from Bamako for a scenic drive through the heartland of Mali, to Djenne, ancient sister-city of Timbuktu; with sight-seeing en-route. Overnight in Djenne.
Hotel Campement, or similar Breakfast
Day 3 Djenne – Sevare (120 km; ~1½hr)
Djenne was one of the first commercial centers of the Sahel region: it was the meeting place of the nomads from the Sahara, the local farmers and cattle herders, and the fishermen from the inland delta of the Niger. We will stroll the ancient alleys and narrow streets, and see the oldest house in Djenne, dating from the XIIth century. Also see the magnificent Great Mosque, the world's largest mud brick architecture, originally constructed in the XIIIth century, this is one of Unesco's World Heritage sites. We will visit bogolan (mudcloth) artisans in their workshops. Lastly we will visit the Djenne museum as we depart Djenne, and drive onward to Sevare for overnight.
Hotel Flandre, or similar Breakfast
Day 4 Sevare – Dogon country (110 km; ~2hrs)
Breakfast, then 08h00 onward drive to Mali's fascinating Dogon country. We will visit the Dogon village Songo, with its renowned rock paintings and circumcision grotto. Circumcision rites are held here every three years, and the rock paintings are representations of noble Dogon families. We continue to Sangha, which is a large agglomeration of 10 distinct villages, some animist, others Islamic; we will visit Sangha, Ogols and Bongo villages: see the women's house, the shrine of the Hogon (the Dogon people's spiritual leader); also visit the natural tunnel in Bongo. We have our first camping night, with overnight camping at the Sangha-Tireli crossroads.
camping Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 5 Dogon country
Today we descend the Bandiagara escarpment and visit the Dogon village Tireli, where we will witness a traditional Dogon mask dance; this is an authentic reproduction of one of the Dogon people's mourning rituals, when the masks ask the spirit of a deceased person to depart the village and go join the ancestors. Overnight camping on the dunes of Ireli village.
camping Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 6 Dogon country
We continue our Dogon country visits with the villages Ireli and Banani (option to hike across the cliffs). Then we ascend the Bandiagara escarpment back to Sangha, where we relax and take in the sights and sounds of a large Dogon village as the people return home for the evening: see women pounding grain, children rounding up goats, fetching water, etc. Overnight in Sangha.
Hotel Campement Guina, or similar Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 7 Dogon country – Mopti (120 km; ~2hrs)sail the Niger River
Today we depart Dogon country and drive to Mopti. We will visit Mopti's local market to get supplies, and begin our tranquil two-day private sailing excursion on the Niger River; while sailing we will visit Bozo fishing villages and Fulani nomads' camps along the shore. Overnight camping on the river bank.
camping Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 8 Niger River – Lake Debo
Today is a full day of sailing the Niger River; we continue our village visits, with many photo opportunities. We will arrive at Lake Debo, which is part of the inland delta of the Niger River: it forms (expands and contracts) with the natural flow and overflow of the river. Overnight camping on the beach.
camping Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 9 Lake Debo – Niger River – Konna – Mopti (65 km; ~¾hr)
We will sail to Konna village, where our vehicle will meet us and drive back to Mopti. We check into our Mopti hotel to freshen up, then after lunch begin our Mopti city tour: see the beautiful Komoguel mosque, the fishing port and the bustling market, where we will observe many of Mali's varied ethnic groups: Bambara, Bozo, Bobo, Dogon, Fulani, Tuareg, Songhay and Hausa. Take this opportunity to shop for gold or silver jewelry, hand-made cotton or wool blankets, or some of Mali's beautiful wood carvings (masks, statues, etc.). Overnight in Mopti.
Hotel Kanaga, or similar Breakfast
Day 10 Mopti – San – Segou (405 km; ~5hrs)
08h00 AM we depart Mopti for Segou, with a brief stop en-route in San, to see the beautiful mosque. We will also visit Terekongo village, site of a sacred well of the Bobo people. Upon arrival in Segou we check into our Segou hotel for a late lunch. Afterwards we will visit Segou, Mali's second largest city and former colonial administrative center—see the interesting mix of traditional and colonial architecture. We will visit the market and the Kasobane boutique with its high-end traditional and contemporary textile art; we will stop by the Nieleni cooperative, which makes hand-woven high-quality wool rugs; then visit another women's cooperative that makes traditional millet beer. We end the day with a sunset stroll through the traditional pottery market on the waterfront. Overnight in Segou.
Hotel Independance, or similar Breakfast
Day 11 Segou – Bamako / final departure (235 km; ~3hrs)
On our last day in Mali we return to Bamako, where we will visit the National Museum (see www.mnm-mali.org), with its impressive collections of textiles from the 11th to the 20th century; ancient Bamanan, Dogon and Senoufo sculptures; terracotta objects from archeological sites; and contemporary African paintings and sculptures. As time permits, we will also visit the city market, the artisans' village, and the traditional medicine market. In the evening, transfer to the airport for final departure.
(no day-room) Breakfast

1 km ~ 0.6 mile; driving times are approximate, depending on local conditions and stops

Ideally, Day 3 would be a Monday, to visit Djenne on its colorful weekly market day.

NB: camping is no frills, sleeping on a ground mattress in a small tent; there are no campgrounds, so no running water, no latrines. Camping in Mali is not recommended for inexperienced campers.

NB: Hotels subject to availability; see proposed hotels description.


Tour package includes:

  • 6 nights hotel, double occupancy
  • 4 nights camping; travelers should bring sleeping bags
  • 20 meals as outlined above: 10 breakfasts, 5 lunches, 5 dinners (excluding drinks)
  • bottled mineral water is included with meals while sailing
  • private ground transportation by 4x4 vehicle, with driver and fuel
  • 3 days in Dogon country, including a traditional Dogon mask dance
  • 2 days sailing the Niger River to Lake Debo, by private pinnace with outboard motor, fuel and crew
  • experienced English-speaking guide throughout; with local guides as needed
  • airport transfers upon arrival and departure in Bamako
  • all hotel taxes and local tourism taxes
  • all excursion and entry fees as per tour program

Tour package does not include: international travel to/from Bamako; Mali visas; non-specified meals, drinks/bottled water; sleeping bags, optional day-room in Bamako, tips and personal expenses.

Day-room optional, not included, in Bamako on Day 11; please specify if you would like to include a day-room.


Please note: Saga Tours does not handle international air reservations and ticketing.


Before reserving, please see our Terms and Conditions



Traditional fish harvest at Entogo, in Dogon country (Huffington Post; Jan.2011)



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