Saga Tours of Mali — West Africa Adventure Travel
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Farafina Tour – 22 days
Mali · Burkina Faso · Niger · Benin · Togo · Ghana

— the wonders in West Africa !

25 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 Saturday in Accra, GHANA; 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 Accra for a total of 16 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 (235 km: ~3hrs)
Welcome to West Africa ! 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 www.mnm-mali.org), 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 for overnight (Hotel Independance, or similar).
with Breakfast


Day 3 Monday: Segou - Djenne - Mopti (465 km; ~6½hrs)
8h00 AM departure (or earlier) for our onward drive to Djenne, ancient sister-city of Timbuktu, to arrive in time to see the large and colorful weekly market. 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 as we depart Djenne, driving onward to Mopti for overnight (Hotel Kanaga, or similar).
with Breakfast


Day 4 Tuesday: Mopti / Niger river
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 5 Wednesday: Mopti - Dogon country (120 km; ~2hrs)
This morning 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 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 onward to Sangha, a large agglomeration of 10 distinct Dogon villages–some animist, some Islamic; on our walking tour 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 Thursday: 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 the late afternoon we will drive to Bandiagara for overnight (Hotel Falaise, or similar).
with Breakfast


Day 7 Friday: 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 continue to Bobo Dioulasso for overnight (Hotel Auberge, or similar).
with Breakfast


Day 8 Saturday: Bobo Dioulasso / Banfora (one-way 85 km; ~1½hr) / Bobo Dioulasso
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 take an excursion to Banfora and Lac Tengrela, to see the hippos. Return to Bobo Dioulasso for overnight (Hotel Auberge, or similar).
with Breakfast


Day 9 Sunday: Bobo Dioulasso - Ouagadougou (355 km; ~4½hrs)
Onward drive to Ouagadougou. We will check into our hotel, then explore Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso's capital city: we will visit the Grand Market and the National Museum, with its interesting collection of regional clothing, masks, household utensils and ancestral statues; then the crafts markets at the Artisans' Center, where we will find basketry, batik fabrics, wooden statues and masks, jewelry, leatherwork and bronze castings. We will also visit the Music Museum if it has reopened (closed for renovations). Overnight in Ouagadougou (Hotel Independance, or similar).
with Breakfast


Day 10 Monday: 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).
with Breakfast


Day 11 Tuesday: Niamey
Today 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 overnight (Grand Hotel, or similar).
NB: due to security concerns we do not go into the desert.
with Breakfast


Day 12 Wednesday: Niamey - Parakou, BENIN (620 km; ~8½hrs)
We will depart the Sahel today, on our way to the greener tropics; see the countryside change as we cross into Benin and continue south, for overnight in Parakou (Hotel Majestic, or similar).
with Breakfast


Day 13 Thursday: Parakou - Abomey (300 km; ~4hrs)
Today we continue onward to Abomey, city of Benin's former Danhomey kings. We will visit the Royal Palace and Museum, site of the ancient palaces of the twelve kings of Abomey (Unesco World Heritage site), 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 Friday: Abomey - Cotonou (135 km; ~3hrs)
And onward to Cotonou, capital city of Benin. We will have a city tour of Cotonou, including the fish market and the international Dantokpa market (the second largest in West Africa), with its fetish market and handcraft center. Then enjoy a pirogue excursion to 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. Return to Cotonou for overnight (Hotel du Lac, or similar).
with Breakfast


Day 15 Saturday: Cotonou - Ouidah (40 km; ~¾hr) – Lome (110 km; ~1½hr)
Onward to Ouidah, the vodou 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; we will trace the route of the famous "Slave Road" which leads to the slavery memorial of Zoungbodji. Then to drive to the Togo border, and continue to Lome for overnight (Hotel Ibis Centre, or similar).
with Breakfast


Day 16 Sunday: Lome
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). Overnight in Lome (Hotel Ibis Centre, or similar).
with Breakfast


Day 17 Monday: Lome - Elmina, GHANA (365 km; ~5hr)
Today we depart francophone Africa when cross the Togo border into Ghana; onward drive to Elmina, where we check into our hotel, then enjoy a walking tour of Elmina. We will visit St. George's Castle, constructed by the Portuguese in 1482—it is the oldest still-existing colonial building in sub-Saharan Africa. It was eventually capatured by the Dutch in 1637 after a bombardment from St. Jago Hill. The original Portuguese chapel was converted by the Dutch to an auction hall for slaves.
We conclude our afternoon with a stroll to St. Jago Hill for a panoramic overview of historic Elmina. Fort St. Jago was contructed on the hilltop in 1665 by the Dutch, to protect their newly acquired St. George's Castle. At the base of St. Jaqo Hill we will visit some posuban shrines, symbolizing the history of asafo companies, which are patrilineal military units that are a feature of most Akan socities; the asafo companies were traditionally responsible for the defense of their town. Overnight in Elmina (Elmina Beach Resort, or similar).
with Breakfast


Day 18 Tuesday: Cape Coast / Elmina
Today we take an excursion to Cape Coast, which was the first capital of Britain's Gold Coast colony. Probably founded in the 15th century, it was variously occupied by the British, the Portuguese, the Swedes, the Danes, and the Dutch. By the late 17th century Cape Coast had grown from a small fishing village to one of the most important trading ports along the coast. And through the 18th century, the local economy was driven by its role as the heart of the transatlantic slave trade.
We will visit the historic old town section, and the notorious Cape Coast Castle (Unesco World Heritage site), former bastion of the Atlantic slave trade, with three large slave dungeons accessible only from the seaward side of the fort, and the Door of no Return. The museum has a compelling series of exhibits showing the origins and workings of the slave trade, and the scope of the resulting human diaspora. We return to Elmina for overnight (Elmina Beach Resort, or similar).
with Breakfast


Day 19 Wednesday: Elmina - Kakum National Park - Kumasi (240 km; ~4hrs)
Today we will drive to and visit Kakum National Park, a rainforest preserve inhabited by some 100 different species of mammals, including forest elephants and giant forest hogs, as well as many types of antelopes, monkeys and birds. The main attraction at Kakum is the 350 meter long canopy walk, varying between 28-40 meters high—this is not recommended for the acrophobic! And onward to Kumasi, capital of Ghana's Ashanti country for overnight (Hotel Georgia, or similar).
with Breakfast


Day 20 Thursday: Kumasi / Ashanti country
This morning we begin at the National Cultural Center, then the Manhyia Palace, and the Kejetia market, the largest market in West Africa–a kaleidescope of sight and sound.
In the afternoon as time permits, we will visit Ashanti villages on the outskirts of Kumasi: Bonwire village, to see authentic kente cloth being made; Pankronu village and its traditional pottery; wood carvings in Ahwiaa village; Ntonso village, for its adinkra cloth. Overnight in Kumasi (Hotel Georgia, or similar).
with Breakfast


Day 21 Friday: Kumasi - Accra (270 km; ~3½hrs)
The morning is available to continue village visits around Kumasi. Then we will drive to Accra for overnight (Novotel Accra, or similar).
with Breakfast


Day 22 Saturday: Accra / final departure
On this our final day, we have a city tour of Accra, including the National Museum, the Cultural Centre, and the Nkrumah Mausoleum. In the afternoon we have a walking tour of James Town with its colorful local markets and colonial-era shops. 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 Accra, GHANA; tourism visas (Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger, Benin, Togo, Ghana); 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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