Saga Tours of Mali — West Africa Adventure Travel
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Tilemsi Tour – 16 days
Mali · Burkina Faso · Benin · Togo

West African journey from the edge of the Sahara Desert to the Atlantic Gulf of Guinea

15 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 Saturday 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.

NB: Alternatively, Mali can be omitted; tour can start in Ouagadougou and end in Lome for a total of 9-10 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 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)
Morning tour of Segou, Mali's second city; see the interesting mix of colonial and traditional architecture. We will visit 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 we will end our visit with stroll through the traditional pottery market on the waterfront. In the afternoon we will drive to Mopti for overnight (Hotel Kanaga, or similar.
with Breakfast

Day 4 Monday: Mopti - Djenne (130 km; ~1½hr) - Mopti / Niger River
Today we take a day-trip to Djenne on its weekly market day, when Djenne is at its colorful best. 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.
We will explore the market, and then stroll the ancient alleys and narrow streets; note 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 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)
This morning we have our 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.
Then, we will depart Mopti for 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 enjoy a walking tour of Sangha, a 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.
In mid-afternoon we drive to and visit Songo village; renowned for its ancient circumcision grotto with rock paintings. Overnight in Bandiagara (Hotel Falaise, or similar).
with Breakfast

Day 7 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 8 Friday: Bobo Dioulasso - Banfora (85 km; ~1¼hr)
Today 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, and visit the Houet Museum, which has an interesting clothing exhibit, including war tunics worn by the army of Samory Toure in his seige against Sikasso in the 19th century; there are also replicas of traditional Bobo and Fulani homes in the museum courtyard. We will visit the old Kibidwe artisans' district where we will see traditional blacksmiths, potters, and dyers at work. In the afternoon, we drive to Banfora and Lac Tengrela, to see the hippos. Overnight in Banfora (Hotel Canne a Sucre, or similar).
with Breakfast

Day 9 Saturday: Banfora - Gaoua (200 km; ~3½hrs)
08h00 AM This morning we will depart Banfora and visit the mysterious stone ruins of Loropeni, whose origins are unknown but the local Gan people call them the "house of refusal"; the walls stand up to 7 meters tall, and 1.5 meters wide at the base. Loropeni is also the site of a large and lively local market held every five days.
Onward to Gaoua, where we will visit the Poni museum dedicated to the Lobi culture. The collections feature historical photographs, hunting tools, fetishes and statues, strings of cowrie shells and beads, musical instruments and bronze casts; there are also models of traditional fortress-like houses constructed on the museum grounds. Overnight in Gaoua (Hotel Hala, or similar).
with Breakfast

Day 10 Sunday: Gaoua - Ouagadougou (435 km; ~7hrs)
Today we continue to Ouagadougou; en-route we can stop in Bouroum-Bouroum or Diebougou for some crafts shopping (typically pottery and basketwork). Lunch break in Pa or Boromo, then another stop in Sabou to see the "tame" crocodiles—at festival times, locals make sacrifices and ask the crocodiles for health, fertility, and fortune; after years of habitual contact, the crocodiles seem to have lost their reptilian ferocity. And finally, on to Ouagadougou for overnight (Hotel Independance, or similar).
with Breakfast

Day 11 Monday: Ouagadougou
Today we have a full day to explore Ouagadougou, capital city of Burkina Faso: we will visit 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 Urbain 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 12 Tuesday: Ouagadougou - Natitingou, BENIN (485 km; ~7hrs)
Breakfast, and 8h00 AM departure for Fada N'Gourma, where we take a break for lunch; then onward to the Burkina-Benin border and continue to Natitingou, in Benin's Somba country; overnight in Natitingou (Hotel Tata Somba, or similar).
with Breakfast

Day 13 Wednesday: 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 14 Thursday: Abomey - Cotonou/Ganvie (135 km; ~3hrs)
And onward to Cotonou ! We will have a city tour of 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. 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. Overnight in Cotonou (Hotel du Lac, or similar).
with Breakfast

Day 15 Friday: Cotonou - Ouidah (40 km; ~¾hr) - Lome, TOGO (110 km; ~1½hr)
Onward to Ouidah, the voudou capital of West Africa, and an important traditional religious center 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. Then onward to the Benin-Togo border, and continue to Lome for overnight (Hotel Ibis Centre, or similar).
with Breakfast

Day 16 Saturday: Lome - final departure (B)
Today we have a city tour of Lome: we will visit the National Museum, the 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 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 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.