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

Journey through the wonders of West Africa !

12 nights hotel; no camping

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.

*** 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).

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.
with Breakfast

Day 3 Monday: Mopti - Djenne (one-way 130 km; ~1½hr) - Mopti
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).
with 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).
with 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 La Falaise, or similar).
with 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).
with 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).
with 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).
with 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).
with Breakfast

Day 10 Monday: 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 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).
with Breakfast

Day 12 Wednesday: Cotonou - Ouidah (40 km; ~¾hr) - Lome, TOGO (110 km; ~1½hr)
This morning we take a short drive to Ouidah, an important traditional religious center of 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).
with Breakfast

Day 13 Thursday: Lome - final departure (B)
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.
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) 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 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.

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.