Saga Tours - Travel to Mali and West Africa

Bamako, Mali
West Africa
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typical cliff village

Dogon mask dance

hiking on the escarpment

Toguna, seat of Dogon village government

looking down from the escarpment

ancient Tellem cliff dwellings

a Dogon family concession

Dogon Country Trekking in Mali

For adventure-seekers, Dogon country hiking expeditions may be just the thing — first-hand and active, guided and safe exploration of a fascinating culture and a unique habitat.

15-day tour with 7 days trekking

12 nights camping / 2 nights hotel

Reserve a Tour
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(trekking optional)

Every tour is private
, scheduled on dates of your choice, beginning and ending on a Saturday in Bamako; there are no fixed-date scheduled 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.

Our hiking tours
are planned and organized to bring you into contact with the Dogon people; during the seven-day trek, all meals are taken and nights are spent camping in various villages. Food is ordered and prepared at small village facilities (local income-generation projects); bathing is done with a bucket of water (showers are the exception, not the rule).

There is no escort vehicle, so trekkers need to be fit and ready to take on the challenge of the Bandiagara Escarpment. There is no technically-difficult climbing involved, but it is strenuous—the escarpment is like a broken staircase: every step is up (or down) from the previous one, and the steps are uneven, as though broken. For this reason, children 12 years old and up are accepted only when accompanied by a responsible adult family member.

Our treks usually comprise a maximum of 8-10 trekkers; we prefer to keep group size small so as to not have an adverse impact on the environment and on village life. A trek also includes our Dogon trek guide and local porters.

Note to Vegetarians: please be aware that local meals include meat or chicken. In this environment and under expedition conditions, we cannot assure balanced nutrition for persons who adhere strictly to a vegetarian regimen; please bring your own protein sources to supplement your local fare.

Packing: for a basic packing list, please refer to our Travel tips page. Aside from these usual items, trekkers should be sure to bring an adequate supply of sun block lotion, mosquito repellant, a hat, a rugged water bottle, and water purification tablets; a mosquito net is also recommended. Clothing should consist of cotton items; include at least one long-sleeved shirt for mosquito protection in the evenings; likewise long trousers and socks.

Also please note that anti-malarials should be taken for the length of your stay in Mali; please consult your family physician or travel health clinic; effective anti-malarials are not available in Mali (hard to believe, perhaps, but true).

Mali's entry requirements include a visa and proof of yellow fever vaccination; see our Travel Tips page for more information.

See our Tours page for other (non-trekking) tours that include Mali's fascinating Dogon country.

15-day Tour: Bamako, Djenne, 7-day Dogon country trek, Mopti, Bamako

Day 1
Arrive in Bamako, MALI
International flight arrives in Bamako in the evening; you will be met at the airport and transferred to a hotel; overnight in Bamako
hotel (no meals)
Day 2
Bamako - Sevare (630 km; ~9-10hrs)
We begin our adventure journey with an early breakfast, then we head for the bus station and depart by bus for Sevare; lunch will be en-route; overnight camping in Sevare
camping Breakfast
Day 3
Sevare - Djenne (one-way 120 km) - Sevare
Today we take a day-trip to Djenne (by bush-taxi) on its weekly market day, when villagers from miles away come to buy and sell. 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 cattleherders, and the fishermen from the inland delta of the Niger.
We will explore the 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; in the late afternoon we return by bush-taxi to Sevare for overnight
camping Breakfast
Day 4
Sevare - Dogon country (~120 km)
Onward to Dogon country ! This morning we take another bush-taxi to the Dogon village Kani Kombole; we will visit the village and spend the night camping in Kani Kombole
camping Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Days 5-11
Trek begins:
Day 5 : villages Tely, Ende, Yabatalu (~14 km trekking)
Day 6 : villages Dioundourou, Konsogoule, Guimini (~15 km)
Day 7 : villages Yawa, Nombori (~17 km)
Day 8 : villages Idyeli, Komo Kani, Tireli; option to witness a traditional Dogon mask dance (~15 km)
Day 9 : villages Amani, Ireli, Banani (~16 km)
Day 10 : villages Neni, Ibi, Koundou (~11 km)
Day 11 : villages Yuga, Yenduma, Arou, Sangha (~19 km); end of trek
camping Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
x7 days
Day 12
Sangha - Songo - Mopti (~120 km)
We depart Dogon country today by bush-taxi to Mopti; en-route, we will visit one last Dogon village: Songo, 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 continue to Mopti for overnight
camping Breakfast
Day 13
Mopti / Niger River
We will have a full day to explore Mopti, the "melting pot" of Mali, located between the Bani and the Niger rivers; on our city tour we will see the 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—shop for gold or silver jewelry, hand-made cotton or wool blankets, or some of Mali's beautiful wood carvings (masks, statues, etc.). In the late afternoon we we enjoy a relaxing sunset sail on the Niger River by private river boat; overnight camping in Mopti
camping Breakfast
Day 14
Mopti - Bamako (640 km; ~9-10hrs)
Today we return by bus to Bamako; lunch en-route; overnight in Bamako
hotel Breakfast
Day 15
Bamako - final departure
And today we visit Bamako: over-view of this sprawling city from Point G, with a visit of the ancient grottos and rock paintings. Then on to the National Museum (see with its impressive collections of textiles from the 11th to the 20th century; ancient Bamanan, Dogon and Senoufo sculptures; terracota 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 — farewell, Mali !
(no hotel) Breakfast

NB: 1 km ~ 0.6 mile; driving times on public transportation are approximate at best, depending on local conditions and stops; ferry crossings not included; waiting times not included

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.

This tour includes:

  • 12 nights camping—bring your tent and sleeping bag
  • 2 nights hotel in Bamako, double occupancy
  • 30 meals, as outlined above: 14 breakfasts, 8 lunches, 8 dinners (excluding drinks)
  • all public ground transportation (public bus and bush taxis)
  • Saga Tours' experienced, English-speaking guide
  • local guides and porters as needed while hiking
  • sunset sail on the Niger River in a traditional river boat
  • airport transfers upon arrival and departure in Bamako
  • all village visit fees and local tourism taxes, as per tour program

The tour does not include international travel to/from Bamako; Mali visas; insurance; tents and sleeping bags; non-specified meals, drinks/bottled water; optional Dogon mask dance; tips and personal expenses.

Optionally (for more comfort), this tour can be done with private ground transportation, instead of public transport.

NB: Posted itineraries are subject to change, and quoted prices are accordingly subject to change; itineraries and prices are locked-in when a tour is booked.

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

Before reserving, please see our Terms and Conditions

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