Explore the harsh desert landscape of Mali with Crooked Compass as we introduce you an exceptional amount of beauty, wonders, pulsating music bars and knowledge. From sandy landscapes, to mud built mosques, this impressive country is sure to fix those culture cravings for those travellers yearning for something new to discover.
Discover crumbling mud villages clinging to cliffs, unchanged from ancient times. Embrace the warmth of the local people, so rich in ethnicity and beliefs. The ribbon of the Niger River explored on a traditional pinasse is a highlight, as is the donkey caravans still plodding their way through dusty scrubland.
It is time to rediscover Mali, home to Africa’s ancient civilisations.
Welcome to Bamako, the beating heart of Mali! You will be met upon arrival and transferred to your hotel. The remainder of the day is yours at leisure. Explore the colour markets, chat with friendly locals and be sure to make the most of the great restaurants and nightlife! Bamako is home to some of Africa’s best music stars.
2 nights Tamana Hotel or similar
Following breakfast, explore this capital city, situated on the Niger, one of Africa’s great rivers. The city was founded in 1640, but didn’t really start to grow until the French colonial period began in 1898. Mali is a country of many tribal peoples, each with their own exuberant styles of clothing and jewellery.
There is nowhere better to see this colourful diversity than in the streets and markets of Bamako. Bamako has a large art and craft centre where sculptors, weavers, leather workers, jewellers and metal workers exhibit your wares and skills. Another highlight of your tour is the Grand Marche, or ‘Great Market’, where you can spend hours exploring the hundreds of stalls. From carvings and cassettes, to fabrics, beads, brass and gold, the variety of goods is staggering.
One area of the market is devoted entirely to traditional African medicines. Here you’ll find the shrunken heads of birds, monkeys and crocodiles along with lizard skins and other gruesome treatments. From here, you will visit the national museum which will give you an introduction to the Malian culture and history.
You will then take a walk in the renovated National botanic park. Time permitting, you will visit the recycling market of Bamako where local artisans convert old metal to other products. (B,D)
Today you will drive to visit Sikasso as you pass through the rich agricultural lands of southern Mali. Enroute, you will stop to explore local villages and granaries.
In Sikasso, Mali’s breadbasket, you will see the remnants of the Tata, an ancient palisade that encircled the city and was used to hold off the French colonial army. In the Mamelon, the residence of the local kings, you will learn about the brave Sénoufo tribe. This afternoon, you will visit the water cascades of Farako and explore the lush green tea farms. (B,D)
Overnight Hotel Maissa or similar
Today you will drive to Segou, Mali’s second largest city and former colonial administrative centre. You will notice a vast difference from the hustle and bustle of Bamako. Here life is a slower pace and the charm of a village lifestyle is felt from the moment you arrive. You will visit Sekoro, the “old Segou” and former capital of the Bambara kingdom. During the 18th century, the beautiful village of Ségou Koro was the centre of Biton Mamary Coulibaly’s Bambara empire and the great man is buried here. Its crumbling Bambara buildings are interspersed with three ancient mosques (including one right on the riverbank) which are compact and pleasing. Observe the tomb of King Biton Coulibaly, the first king. Visit the Ndomo the place where you will learn and practice the process of dying mud clothes. Keep your sample as souvenir. In the afternoon, enjoy a cruise to Kalabougou to visit a traditional pottery village. (B,D)
Overnight Auberge or similar
Following breakfast, you will drive to Mopti. En route you will visit Terekoungo, the sacred well of the Bo people, the fetish house and the mosque of San. Upon arrival in Mopti, you will tour the city known as the Venice of Mali. Visit Mali’s most lively and fascinating port, the place where they dig the traditional canoes, as well as the old district. Be sure to try capitaine skewers, a succulent white fish and local Mopti speciality! (B,D)
Overnight Ya Pas de Problem or similar
Following breakfast you will board a traditional motorised boat for approx seven hours as you cruise on the Niger River to Kona (55 Km) on board a traditional pinasse. You will make a stop at Kotaca, a river bank village with its beautiful mosque. You will have the opportunity to also stop at other riverside villages as well as see local fishermen hard at work. Your lunch will be prepared in traditional African style and eaten on the boat.
Upon arrival in Kona, you will drive to Bandiagara visiting Songho and its circumcision grotto on the way. You will arrive in Bandiagara where you will check into your hotel and overnight (B,L,D)
Today you head to Dogon Country, a jewel in West Africa known for both its natural beauty and cultural significance. Here you will witness amazing landscapes, fascinating culture and welcoming people
Dogon Country is considered to be one of the most extraordinary places on earth. The road to Dogon Country is rough, dusty and unpaved. Built up high on the narrow ledges of the cliffs are the villages of the Dogon people. In the 11th century, the Dogons fled the advancing Arabs coming from the north, and found shelter in one of West Africa’s most inhospitable areas. This is such a unique place that the United Nations has declared it a World Heritage site.
You will visit Nando, Niogonon, Songho and overnight in Bandiagara. (B,L,D)
2 nights La Falaise or similar
Village visits and exploration continue today as you explore villages such as Kani Bonzon, Teli, Ende. Hike along the cliffs to meet the villagers and ancient dwellings of Tellems. You will discover the Dogon traditions of weaving cotton to make bogolan (mud cloth) as well as carving wooden masks and fertility statues. Each village hosts its Tougouna, a place of exchange that welcomes all village elders, called the ‘house of words’. Discover Dogon cliffs, plateaus and plains through trekking. (B,L,D)
Exploring deeper into the heart of Dogon Country, today you will see another part of this harsh but beautiful region by visiting the villages of Dourou, Amani, Tirely and Sangha.
This evening, you will have the opportunity to witness a traditional Dogon mask dance. Dogon masks are known throughout the world by anthropologists and art curators. They are among the most highly respected tribal art in the world, having influenced Western 20th-century artists such as Picasso, Braque and the Cubist movement.
The mask binds the Dogon people to the celestial world of heaven (where the afterworld exists) and Earth, which provides food, shelter and life. Traditionally, the Dogon perform with their dancing masks to honour the passing of a respected elder. (B,L,D)
Overnight Hotel Campement Sangha or similar
Following breakfast, you will head to Koundou where a brief stop will be made before continuing onto Djenné, Mali’s architectural jewel. Djenné, sits on an island in the Bani River and is home to the largest mud-built structure in the world. Djenné has a magical old worldly atmosphere where it seems that time has frozen tradition in place.
Upon arrival, check into your hotel. The remainder of the day is yours at leisure. (B,L,D)
Overnight Hotel Campement Djenne or similar
Enjoy a morning tour of the city where you will learn of its rich history, with the largest and most beautiful mud mosque in Africa and the world. Monday is the day of the colorful weekly market, where you can find stunning traditional fabrics. You will walk through the narrow alleys to explore the majestic Sudanese-style mud buildings. Behind each door a warm welcome awaits you. Djenné is the ideal setting to enjoy the great variety of ethnic groups that inhabit the Niger River Valley and the inland delta.
Late in the afternoon, you will drive to Segou where you will overnight. (B,D)
Overnight Auberge or similar
After breakfast, you will drive back to Bamako, the home of artisans, the market with fruit and spices and the National Museum. A day room has been organised for you. Relax at the hotel or go shopping with the assistance of your tour guide. At the appropriate time, you will be transferred to the airport for your onward flight. (B)
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**Please note that this tour can be organised on request for private departures.
* Pricing is subject to change at anytime until full payment has been received.
* A minimum of 2 adults is required to guarantee this departure.
A non-refundable deposit of $1000 AUD per person is required to secure your place. Final payment is due no later than 60 days prior to departure. Travel insurance is mandatory for travelling with Crooked Compass. For full terms and conditions, please click here.
This category of tours involves light trekking, walking, cycling, rafting or kayaking for a few hours each day with a small amount of inclines and declines. You will require a reasonable level of fitness and good health to participate. It is important to note that due to the nature of some of our trips, they may take place in remote areas (with basic facilities) and can involve long travelling days on various modes of transport.
Suggested preparation : At least 3 months prior to departure, it is recommended that you undertake aerobic exercise (this may include jogging, cycling or fast walking) for 30 minutes, three times a week. It is also advised to walk on variable terrain and in variable weather conditions. For a cycling adventure, road cycling twice a week is recommended and for adventures which involve paddling and kayaking, it is important to gain confidence and rhythm rather than speed prior to departure.
This category of tours involve trekking, kayaking and cycling for period of 6 to 8 hours a day at a fairly consistent pace. Ideal for people looking to slightly increase the heart rate. For our moderately rated tours, you must have a good level of fitness and also be in good health. It is also important to be prepared for variable weather conditions. Altitude may also come into play. This category of tours may involve visiting remote areas where facilities can be quite basic. Accommodation may also involve camping, homestays or basic accommodation where facilities may not be considered of western standards. To enjoy this style of travel, it is suggested for travellers to have a reasonable level of fitness and health, a positive attitude, as well as a fairly active lifestyle. An open mind is also required.
Suggested preparation: At least 3 months prior to departure, it is recommended that you undertake 45mins – 1 hour of aerobic exercise, three to four times a week. Some potential exercises that could be beneficial include hill walking with a backpack on over variable terrain and weather conditions, as well as running and cycling dependent on the activity you plan on undertaking.
This category of tours involves trekking, kayaking, cycling or other adventure activities in remote areas for up to 8 to 10 hours a day. It is important to note that with the remoteness of some regions comes a variety of other challenges such as variable weather conditions, accommodation as well as facilities. You must have an excellent level of fitness and good health to be able to partake in this category of tour. You must have confidence in your own ability and be in good physical condition. Includes extended periods of endurance.
Suggested preparation: At least 3 to 4 months of strenuous exercise, four times a week. When preparing for treks it would be beneficial to participate in hill walks with a weighted day pack (approximately 5-8 kg) once a week for aerobic fitness and strengthening of leg muscles. It is also important to do this on variable terrain to prepare for challenging adventures. When preparing for cycling adventures, regular bike riding (at least 4 to 5 times a week for 1-4 hours is essential). It is also important to cycle on uneven surfaces or even participate in other aerobic exercises such as running or swimming to build up strength and stamina. Altitude may also be a factor in these tours.
This category of tour often involves extreme trekking, cycling or other extreme adventure activities. It is important to expect remote and poorly defined tracks and to be prepared for variable weather conditions for 10 to 12 hours per day (may sometimes be more depending on weather and altitude). These adventures are suitable for travellers who have prior experience in strenuous travel and activities, are extremely fit and have excellent health. It is also important to note that some of the terrain on these adventures will involve trekking in snow, at high attitude levels and may require technical equipment.
Suggested preparation: It is important to note that physical fitness should be an ongoing activity, commencing around 5-6 months prior to departure, or even before if you have no prior fitness. Exercise should focus on building maximum endurance and stamina. Four to five hard sessions of 40-60 mins per week should be completed and can include exercises such as going to the gym, running, swimming or cycling to focus on building aerobic stamina. It could also be beneficial to prepare by hiking on rough terrain, in extreme weather conditions or partake in altitude training.