Saga Tours of Mali — West Africa Adventure Travel
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Kabara Tour – 13 days
Mali · Burkina Faso · Benin

Explore the wonders of West Africa !

12 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 Wednesday in Cotonou, BENIN; 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.

***Alternatively, Mali can be omitted; tour can start in Ouagadougou and end in Cotonou for a total of six days.

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 a city tour of Bamako, Mali's vibrant capital city: over-view of this sprawling city from Point G. 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; terracotta objects from archeological sites; and contemporary African paintings and sculptures. In the afternoon we will visit the city market and the artisans' village, then we will drive through the heartland of Mali to Segou. Overnight in Segou (Hotel Independance, or similar).
with Breakfast

Day 3 Sunday: Segou - Mopti (405 km; ~5hrs)
Today we visit Segou, Mali's second city and former colonial capital, with its interesting mix of traditional and colonial architecture. We will stop by the Kasobane boutique with its high-end traditional and contemporary textile art; we will visit the Nieleni cooperative, which makes hand-woven high-quality wool rugs, and visit another women's cooperative that makes traditional millet beer. Then we will visit traditional pottery market on the waterfront, before taking a short drive to 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 founding King Biton Coulibaly.
In the afternoon, we will drive onward to Mopti for overnight (Hotel Kanaga, or similar).
with Breakfast

Day 4 Monday: Mopti - Djenne (one-way 130 km; ~1½hr) - Mopti / Niger River
This morning is our city tour of Mopti, the "melting pot" of Mali, located between the Bani and the Niger 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.
Next is our excursion to Djenne, Timbuktu's historical sister-city, on its colorful 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 cattle herders, and the fishermen from the inland delta of the Niger. After exploring the market, 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 on our way out of town, as we return to Mopti in time to enjoy a relaxing sunset sail on the Niger River by private river boat. Overnight in Mopti (Hotel Kanaga, or similar).
with Breakfast

Day 5 Tuesday: Mopti - Dogon country (120 km; ~2hrs)
Onward 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 Songo village, renowned for its rock paintings and circumcision grotto. Traditional circumcision ceremonies are held here every three years; the rock paintings are historical representations of noble Dogon families.
Then we continue to Sangha and enjoy a walking tour of this large agglomeration of 10 distinct Dogon villages–some animist, some Islamic; we will see some beautiful examples of the unique Dogon architecture and fetishes. Overnight in Sangha (Hotel Campement Guina, or similar).
with Breakfast

Day 6 Wednesday: Dogon country
7h00 AM breakfast, then we descend the escarpment, and visit several of the cliff villages: Banani (note the ancient Tellem cave dwellings in the cliff face), Ireli, Amani (visit the sanctuary of sacred crocodiles, totem animal of the Dogon people); and Tireli village, where we may (optionally) witness a fascinating traditional Dogon mask dance—this is an authentic reproduction of a traditional funerary rite, where the masks ask the spirit of the deceased person to depart the village, and rejoin the ancestors. We return to Sangha for overnight (Hotel Campement Guina, or similar).
with Breakfast

Day 7 Thursday: Dogon country - Bobo Dioulasso, BURKINA FASO (525-600 km; ~7-8hrs)
Breakfast, then 8h00 AM departure from Dogon country, on our way to Burkina Faso; we cross the border and continue to Bobo Dioulasso for overnight (Hotel Auberge, or similar).
with Breakfast

Day 8 Friday: Bobo Dioulasso - Ouagadougou (355 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).
with Breakfast

Day 9 Saturday: Ouagadougou
Today we have a full day to explore Ouagadougou, capital city of Burkina Faso: we will visit the National Museum, with its interesting collection of regional clothing, masks, household utensils and ancestral statues; then to the Moro Naba's palace and the Grand Market. We will also 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.
In the afternoon we take an excursion to the Parc Urbaiin Bangr-Weoogo—with its crocodile lagoons, a mini-zoo, and well-tended gardens, it makes a nice respite from the city. Overnight in Ouagadougou (Hotel Independance, or similar).
with Breakfast

Day 10 Sunday: Ouagadougou - Natitingou, BENIN (485 km; ~7hrs)
This morning we depart Burkina Faso for Benin, driving to Fada N'Gourma, and onward to the Burkina-Benin border and continue to Natitingou, in Somba country. Upon arrival we will visit the Natitingou Museum for an interesting overview of the Somba culture. Overnight in Natitingou (Hotel Tata Somba, or similar).
with Breakfast

Day 11 Monday: Natitingou - Abomey (420 km; ~6hrs)
And onward to Abomey, capital of 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 exclusively for the royal court. Overnight in Abomey (Motel d'Abomey, or similar).
with Breakfast

Day 12 Tuesday: Abomey - 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).
with Breakfast

Day 13 Wednesday: Cotonou / Ganvie - final departure
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. In the evening, transfer to the airport for final departure.
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 Cotonou, BENIN; tourism visas (Mali, Burkina Faso, Benin); 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.

Before reserving, please see our Terms and Conditions.