Saga Tours - Travel to Mali and West Africa Bamako, Mali
West Africa
Tel +223.6673.1631
Tel +223.7641.7383
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Timbuktu mosque



Dogon village



Fulani woman



pinnace to sail to Timbuktu



village market



Dogon village children



Djenne mosque



Hand of Fatima



Dogon cliff 'stairs'



rural village



studying the Koran




Mali Adventure Tour

Dogon Cliffs, Niger River & Timbuktu

A comprehensive tour of Mali, with a dash of adventure:

· sailing the Niger River, from Mopti to Timbuktu
· trekking in Dogon villages along the Bandiagara escarpment

also visit Djenne, Mopti, Segou and Bamako

15 days / 11 nights hotel, 3 nights camping
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Every tour is private, scheduled on dates of your choice, beginning and ending on a Saturday in Bamako; 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
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 – Djenne (570 km; ~7½hrs)
Begin your personal discovery journey; have breakfast, then depart at 8h00 AM for a scenic drive through the heartland of Mali, to Djenne; with sight-seeing en-route. Overnight in Djenne.
Hotel Campement,
or similar
Breakfast
Day 3
Monday
Djenne – Mopti (130 km; ~1½hr)
Today we visit Djenne, ancient sister-city of Timbuktu, and its large, colorful weekly market. 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. Take in all the sights and sounds of the weekly market, then 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, on our way to Mopti for overnight.
Hotel Kanaga,
or similar
Breakfast
Day 4
Tuesday
Mopti / Sail the Niger River
9h00 AM city tour of Mopti, also called "the Venice of Mali", because it is surrounded by the waters of the Niger and the Bani rivers. See the beautiful Sudanese-style Komoguel mosque, the fishing port (see pirogues being made by hand), and the bustling market where many of Mali's ethnic groups come to trade: Bambara, Bobo, Bozo, Dogon, Fulani, Tuareg and Songhay. Our boat crew will purchase supplies, and after lunch, we begin our private sailing excursion to Timbuktu. Overnight camping on the riverbank.
camping Breakfast, Dinner
Day 5
Wednesday
Niger River
Full day of sailing: we will visit Bozo fishermen's villages and nomadic Fulani camps along the way; see Mali's varied bird life along the shore, and very likely see hippos in the river—do not approach, hippos are dangerous. Overnight camping on the riverbank.
camping Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 6
Thursday
Niger River – Timbuktu
Final day of sailing to take in the tranquil sights and sounds of the Niger River and the inland delta, and arrive in Timbuktu at day's end. Transfer from port to town; overnight in Timbuktu.
Hotel Hendrina Khan, or similar Breakfast, Lunch
Day 7
Friday
Timbuktu
Today we visit the legendary and historical city of Timbuktu. In its glory-days, Timbuktu attracted Muslim scholars from the entire Arab world. We will visit the ancient mosques and former universities, the museum and the Ahmed Baba Institute archives of ancient Islamic manuscripts, the explorers' houses, and the market which receives the azalaïs, the salt caravans from the desert — at one time salt was literally worth its weight in gold. Afternoon at leisure; overnight in Timbuktu.
NB: due to security concerns we do not go into the desert.
Hotel Hendrina Khan, or similar Breakfast
Day 8
Saturday
Sahara Desert / Timbuktu
Return to Timbuktu, and have the remainder of the day free to relax or further explore this historic city on your own; or return to visit the artisans' center—see leather workers and jewelers at work. Overnight in Timbuktu.
Hotel Hendrina Khan, or similar Breakfast
Day 9
Sunday
Timbuktu – Dogon country (500 km; ~7½hrs)
Breakfast, then 8h00 AM departure from Timbuktu for our drive across the Sahel, all the way 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. Overnight in Sangha.
Hotel Campement Guina,
or similar
Breakfast, Dinner
Day 10
Monday
Dogon Country
Today we visit magnificent Dogon villages along the Bandiagara escarpment, another Unesco World Heritage site. We will see many examples of the classic traditional Dogon architecture (small stone houses and circular granaries) and contemporary fetishism; meet Dogon elders, and option to witness a traditional Dogon mask dance, one of the Dogon people's funerary rites. Overnight camping in a Dogon village.
camping Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 11
Tuesday
Dogon country
Continue visiting Dogon villages along the Bandiagara escarpment; we will see ancient Tellem cave dwellings in the cliff, and there will be opportunities for hiking (exact villages to visit will depend on your desire or not, to hike). Overnight in Bandiagara.
Hotel Falaise,
or similar
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 12
Wednesday
Dogon country
Today we visit Songo village, renowned for its circumcision grotto with rock paintings. Circumcision ceremonies are held here every three years for all Dogon boys aged 9-14 years old; the rock paintings are historical representations of noble Dogon families. We will also visit Dogon villages in the southern part of the escarpment, including Nando (see the interesting mud-castle mosque) and Niongono, perched on the cliff like a medieval citadel (NB: climbing is required to visit Niongono). Overnight in Bandiagara.
Hotel Falaise,
or similar
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 13
Thursday
Dogon country – Mopti (120 km; ~2hrs) - Segou (405 km; ~5hrs)
8h00 AM return drive to Mopti, and wander through Mopti's busy and colorful streets on its weekly market day; use this opportunity to purchase local hand-made blankets of cotton or wool. We will take an arly lunch break, then onward drive to Segou, Mali's second largest city. Overnight in Segou.
Hotel Independance, or similar Breakfast
Day 14
Friday
Segou – Bamako (235 km; ~3hrs)
This morning we visit Segou, Mali's former colonial capital. Note the interesting mix of traditional and colonial architecture. We will visit 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, and visit another women's cooperative that makes traditional millet beer. Then enjoy a relaxing stroll through the traditional pottery market on the waterfront. After lunch we depart Segou for Sekoro village, which was the original Segou and former capital of the Bambara kingdom; we will meet the village chief, who is a descendant of the King Biton Coulibaly. Then onward drive to Bamako, with the rest of day at leisure; overnight in Bamako.
Grand Hotel,
or similar
Breakfast
Day 15
Saturday
Bamako / final departure
And last but not least, we visit Bamako: over-view of this sprawling city from Point G, with a visit of the ancient grotto and rock paintings. Then on to 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. In the afternoon we will also visit the city market, the artisans' village, and the fetish market for traditional medicine. In the evening, transfer to the airport for your onward flight.
day-room Breakfast

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

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:
  • 11 nights hotel, double occupancy
  • day-room in Bamako on the final day
  • 3 nights camping; travelers should bring sleeping bags
  • 25 meals as outlined above: 14 breakfasts, 5 lunches, 6 dinners (excluding drinks)
  • bottled mineral water is included with meals while sailing
  • private ground transportation by 4x4 vehicle, with driver and fuel
  • 3-day Niger River sail to Timbuktu by private river boat with outboard motor, fuel and crew
  • experienced English-speaking guide throughout
  • airport transfers upon arrival and departure in Bamako
  • all hotel taxes and local tourism taxes
  • all excursion, site visit and entry fees as per tour program

Tour package does not include: international airfare to/from Bamako; Mali visas; non-specified meals, drinks/bottled water; sleeping bags, optional Dogon mask dance; tips and personal expenses.

Option: traditional Dogon mask dance performed in a village — upon request



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


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