Saga Tours - Travel to Mali and West Africa Bamako, Mali
West Africa
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giant baobab trees



water for the village



village elder



fulani women



going to market



Dogon masks



shea butter processing



Dogon masks







voudou dancers in Ouidah



Ganvie stilt village



Lome fetish market



Markala Tour

Mali · Burkina Faso · Benin · Togo

Journey through the wonders of West Africa !

13 days / 12 nights hotel, no camping
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Every tour is private, scheduled on dates of your choice, beginning on a Saturday in Bamako, MALI and ending on a Thursday in Lome, TOGO; 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

NB: Alternatively, Mali can be omitted; tour can start in Ouagadougou and end in Lome for a total of 7-8 days.

Day 1
Saturday
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
Sunday
Bamako – Segou – Mopti (640 km; ~8hrs)
Begin your West African journey with a scenic drive through the heartland of Mali, along the Niger River, all the way to the port city of Mopti. En-route, we will visit Segou, Mali's former colonial capital. Upon arrival in Mopti, we will enjoy a relaxing stroll along the banks of the Niger River, fronting our hotel. Overnight in Mopti.
Hotel Kanaga,
or similar
Breakfast
Day 3
Monday
Mopti – Djenne (one-way 130 km; ~1½hr)Mopti / Niger River
9h00 AM we depart on our excursion to Djenne, which 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.
Today is the colorful weekly market day, and we will experience all those sights and sounds. Afterwards, 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 the Djenne museum as we depart, and return to Mopti for a city tour, ending with a tranquil sunset sail on the Niger River by private river boat. Overnight in Mopti.
Hotel Kanaga,
or similar
Breakfast
Day 4
Tuesday
Mopti – Dogon country (120 km; ~2hrs)
Today we proceed to to Mali's fascinating Dogon country. The Dogon tribe originated in the south of Mali, which they fled to preserve their animist religion from the spread of Islam. When they arrived at the Bandiagara cliffs, they found the Tellem people occupying grottos carved in the face of the cliff. They eventually displaced the Tellem people, and used the grottos to bury their dead—funerary rites are an important part of the Dogon culture.
We will visit the Dogon village Songo, renowned for its rock paintings and circumcision grotto. Traditional circumcision ceremonies are held here every three years, for all Dogon boys aged 9-14 years; the rock paintings are historical representations of noble Dogon families. We continue to Sangha, on the edge of the Bandiagara escarpment. We will take a walking tour of Sangha, comprised of 10 distinct animist and Islamic villages. Overnight in Sangha.
Hotel Campement Guina,
or similar
Breakfast
Day 5
Wednesday
Dogon country
We continue our exploration of Dogon country—we will descend the Bandiagara escarpment to visit the villages Banani (note the ancient Tellem cave dwellings in the cliff face), Ireli, Amani (visit the sanctuary of sacred crocodiles, a totem animal of the Dogon people), and Tireli village, where we may (optionally) witness a traditional Dogon mask dance—this is an authentic representation of one of the Dogon people's mourning rituals. Overnight in Bandiagara.
Hotel Falaise,
or similar
Breakfast
Day 6
Thursday
Dogon country – Bobo Dioulasso, BURKINA FASO (560 km; ~7½hrs)
Breakfast, then 8h00 AM departure from Dogon country, on our way to Burkina Faso; we cross the border and contiue to Bobo Dioulasso for overnight.
Hotel Auberge,
or similar
Breakfast
Day 7
Friday
Bobo Dioulasso – Ouagadougou (360 km; ~4½hrs)
This morning we visit Bobo Dioulasso, the "house of the Bobo merchants" in the local language; this is Burkina Faso's second largest city. We will see the old mosque, the Houet Museum, and visit the old Kibidwe artisans' district where we will see traditional blacksmiths, potters, and dyers at work. In the afternoon, we drive to Ouagadougou for overnight.
Hotel Independance,
or similar
Breakfast
Day 8
Saturday
Ouagadougou – Natitingou, BENIN (485 km; ~7hrs)
In Ouagadougou we will visit the National Museum, with its interesting collection of regional clothing, masks, household utensils and ancestral statues; we will also make a brief stop at the Artisans' Center, where we will find basketry, batik fabrics, wooden statues and masks, jewelry, leatherwork and bronze castings. Then drive to Fada N'Gourma, onward to the Burkina-Benin border and continue to Natitingou, in Somba country; overnight in Natitingou.
Hotel Tata Somba,
or similar
Breakfast
Day 9
Sunday
Natitingou – Abomey (420 km; ~6hrs)
We will visit the Natitingou Museum for an interesting overview of the Somba culture. Then we drive to Abomey, the former Danhomey kingdom, where we will visit the Royal Palace Museum, site of the ancient palaces of the twelve kings of Danhomey, who reigned from 1620 through 1900. We will also visit the artisans' center, renowned for traditional tapestries and bronze castings, formerly reserved for the royal court only. Overnight in Abomey.
Motel d'Abomey,
or similar
Breakfast
Day 10
Monday
Abomey – Allada – Cotonou (135 km; ~3hrs)
This morning we continue our southerly route to Allada, site of the first kingdom formed by the Adja descendants of Tado, Togo. The road through town is part of the original slave route used by traders from the ancient Allada kingdom. We will visit the royal palace of the 16th King of Allada, and perhaps meet the King. We will also visit Togoudo's sacred forest, which has several fetishes and is the site of many vodou ceremonies. And ultimately we continue to Cotonou for overnight.
Hotel du Lac,
or similar
Breakfast
Day 11
Tuesday
Cotonou / Ganvie
Today we will visit colorful Cotonou, including the huge Dantokpa market, the second largest in West Africa (after Kumasi in Ghana), and the large artisans' center, where artisans can be seen working their crafts.
In the afternon we will take a pirogue excursion to visit Ganvie fishing village, built on stilts over the lagoon waters of Lake Nokoue. This village was created in the 18th century by the Tofinu people, to escape the slave-raids of their neighbors; women sell fish, fruits and vegetables from their canoes, and fish-farming is practiced within enclosures of trees and branches that surround the village. We return to Cotonou for overnight.
Hotel du Lac,
or similar
Breakfast
Day 12
Wednesday
Cotonou – Ouidah (40 km; ~45 min.)Lome, TOGO (110 km; ~1½hr)
This morning we take a short drive to Ouidah, an important traditional religious center for vodou, and ancient slave depot which sent thousands of slaves to the new world. We will visit the Museum in the old Portuguese fort, the Temple of Pythons, the Cathedral of Notre Dame and the Kpasse sacred forest; trace the route of the famous "Slave Road" which leads to the slavery memorial of Zoungbodji. Then we drive to the Togo border, and onward to Lome for overnight.
Hotel Ibis Centre,
or similar
Breakfast
Day 13
Thursday
Lome / final departure
City tour of Lome: we will visit the National Museum, Lome central market, the artisans' village, and the Akodessewa fetish market, with its skulls, bones, feathers and shells, everything needed to make your own fetish ! If it is open, we will also visit the outstanding Musée International du Golfe de Guinée (closed for renovations, until 01July). In the evening, transfer to the airport for your final departure.
day-room Breakfast

1 km ~ 0.6 mile; distances are approximate
Driving times are approximate, depending on local conditions, stops, and border crossings


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

The tour with these hotels is our default "Better" standard (3-4* hotels where available).
Upgrade to "Best" standard (4-5* hotels where available) also possible.
NB: in rural areas there is little choice of accommodations, and we utilize the same "best available" hotels for all tour standards.


Tour package includes:

  • 12 nights hotel, double occupancy, with breakfast
  • day-room in Lome on the final day
  • private ground transportation by 4x4 vehicle, with driver and fuel
  • sunset sail on the Niger River by private river boat
  • pirogue excursion to Ganvie village
  • experienced English-speaking guide throughout
  • airport transfers upon arrival in Bamako and departure in Lome
  • all hotel taxes and local tourism taxes
  • all touring, excursion, site visit and entry fees as per tour program


Tour package does not include: international flights to Bamako, MALI and onward from Lome, TOGO; tourism visas (Mali, Burkina Faso, Benin, Togo); lunches, dinners, drinks/bottled water; optional Dogon mask dance; tips and personal expenses.

Optional traditional Dogon mask dance in a village — upon request

Hotel upgrades in the capital cities are available upon request.



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


Before reserving, please see our Terms and Conditions


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