Saga Tours of Mali — West Africa Adventure Travel
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Djoliba Tour – 10 days
Mali · Burkina Faso · Niger

Discover the Sahel, on the fringes of the Sahara Desert

9 nights hotel; no camping

Every tour is private, scheduled on dates of your choice, beginning on a Friday in Bamako, MALI and ending on a Sunday in Niamey, NIGER; 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.

Day 1 Friday: 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).

Day 2 Saturday: Bamako – Segou (235 km; ~3hrs)
Begin your West African journey with visit to Mali's National Museum (see, 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. We will also visit the city market, the artisans' village, and the fetish market for traditional medicine. And in mid-afternoon, we will drive to Segou for overnight (Hotel Independance, or similar).
with Breakfast

Day 3 Sunday: Segou – Djenne (335 km; ~4½hrs)
Today we will visit Segou, Mali's former colonial capital, with its 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 our visit in Segou with a stroll through the traditional pottery market on the waterfront, then drive to Djenne for overnight (Hotel Campement, or similar).
with Breakfast

Day 4 Monday: Djenne – Mopti (130 km; ~1½hr)

This morning we visit Timbuktu's historical sister city—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. Today is the colorful weekly market day, and after taking in all the sights and sounds of this lively specatacle, 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 drive to Mopti for overnight (Hotel Kanaga, or similar).
with Breakfast

Day 5 Tuesday: Mopti / Niger River (380 km; ~5½hr)
City tour of Mopti, called the Venice of Mali because it is surrounded by the waters of the Niger and the Bani rivers. 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.). At day's end we will enjoy a tranquil sunset sail on the Niger River in a traditional pirogue (river boat). Overnight in Mopti (Hotel Kanaga, or similar).
with Breakfast

Day 6 Wednesday: Mopti – Dogon country (120 km; ~2hr)
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 explore Dogon country and the Bandiagara escarpment (another Unesco World Heritage site), where we we will see many examples of the classic traditional Dogon architecture (small stone houses and circular granaries) and contemporary fetishism. We will visit Sangha, composed of 10 distinct Dogon villages, then descend the escarpment (on foot, if you wish) to visit Banani village, one of the most beautiful of the cliff villages. We will have the option to witness a spectacular traditional Dogon mask dance. In the afternoon we will visit Songo village, site of a rocky grotto where circumcision ceremonies are held every three years; note the old and new rock paintings which represent noble Dogon families. Overnight in Bandiagara (Hotel Falaise, or similar).
with Breakfast

Day 7 Thursday: Dogon country – Ouahigouya, BURKINA FASO (160 km; ~3½hrs)
08h00 AM departure from Dogon country for Burkina Faso; we will cross the border and continue to Ouahigouya, capital of the old Yatenga kingdom. We will check into our hotel, then visit Ouahigouya, including the historic Yatenga Naba's compound (Naba = "King") and Naba Kango's tomb—Naba Kango was one of the most fearsom of the Mossi rulers; he died violently in 1787. Overnight in Ouahigouya (Hotel Amitie, or similar).
with Breakfast

Day 8 Friday: Ouahigouya – Ouagadougou (180 km; ~2½hrs)
This morning, onward drive to Ouagadougou, the capital city of Burkina Faso; we will thoroughly explore "Ouaga": visit the Moro Naba's palace, the Grand Market, and the National Museum, with its interesting collection of regional clothing, masks, household utensils and ancestral statues. We will visit the Music Museum if it is reopened (currently under renovation), and the crafts markets at the Artisans' Center, where we will find talented artisans making basketry, batik fabrics, wooden statues and masks, jewelry, leatherwork and bronze castings. Overnight in Ouagadougou (Hotel Independance, or similar).
with Breakfast

Day 9 Saturday: Ouagadougou – Niamey, NIGER (500 km; ~6½hrs)
After breakfast, we will depart Burkina Faso for Niger—observe the Sahelian countryside and rural villages as we drive northeastward; we cross the border and continue to Niamey for overnight (Grand Hotel, or similar).
NB: due to security concerns we do not go deep into the desert.
with Breakfast

Day 10 Sunday: Niamey - final departure
On the final day of our journey, we will have a city tour of Niamey, including the National Museum and exhibits of dinosaur skeletons, as well as the infamous Arbre de Ténéré, the large city market, and the artisans' village Wadata. We will visit the Grand Mosque with its massive minaret and tiled dome. In the afternoon we take an excursion to Koure to see one the last remaining herds of giraffes in West Africa. Return to Niamey for your hotel check-out; evening transfer to the airport, for final departure.
with Breakfast

Option: supplemental Day 11, Day 12
2-days/2-nights at the Tapoa Reserve, part of the Parc Regional du W
Day 10: (instead of above) morning city tour of Niamey; afternoon drive to Tapoa (150 km; ~3hrs); game drive, if time permits
Day 11: morning and afternoon game drives
Day 12: morning game drive and afternoon return to Niamey; transfer directly to Niamey airport, for final departure

On the game drives, hope to see elephants, antelopes, buffalo, leopards, lions, cheetahs, baboons, crocodiles, hyenas, jackals, warthogs, and many species of migratory birds. As of this writing the parc is now open year-round but the ideal time for animal-viewing is the dry season, March-June; the hotel is open November-May (subject to change without notice).
with 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) is 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:

Tour package does not include: international flights to Bamako, MALI and onward from Niamey, NIGER; tourism visas (Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger); 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.

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.

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