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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 Azalai Grand Hotel or similar
Today you will drive to Segou, Mali’s second largest city and former colonial administrative centre. On the way, you will stop in Wolodo, a Bambara village where you may witness women making shay butter.
You will visit Sekoro, the “old Segou” and former capital of the Bambara kingdom. Here you will meet the chief of the village who is one of the kings direct descendants. 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. As you reach Segou, you will stop at the historical monument at the entrance of the town. You will notice a vast difference from the hustle and bustel of Bamako. Here life is a slower pace and the charm of a village lifestyle is felt from the moment you arrive. This evening, enjoy a river cruise to take in the beautiful sunset over the Niger River.
3 nights Hotel Esplanade or similar
Following breakfast at your hotel, start a city tour of Segou where you will explore bustling the harbour. Witness the hive of activity at the potteries on the bank of the river. Take in the impressive colonial buildings used now as governmental offices. Drive to N’Domo centre where mud cloth is made. Here you will learn and practice the techniques of mud painting. Depending on the security situation, we may ride to Kalabougou, a Bambara village where the potteries are made. Transfer back to your hotel for dinner and overnight.
After an early breakfast this morning, depart for the historical city of 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. It is also a UNESCO world heritage site. Here, you will visit the three styles of building: Sudanese, Moroccan and Toucouleur styles, visit the library where ancient manuscripts are kept. Drive back to Segou. On the way back, you will visit Terekoungo, an old Bobo village famous for its sacred well, fetish house and millet beer making procedure.
Today you will drive to visit Sikasso, capital of the Kenedougou Kingdom via Koutiala where you will enjoy a short walk through the market. This afternoon, enjoy a city tour of Sikasso where you will explore the Senoufo Centre, a large museum which will educate you on the Senoufo culture and history as well as discovering the vegetable market. Visit Mamelon Hill, the former location of the King’s Palace and the original house of Keletigui Berthe.
2 nights Hotel du Cinqantenaire or similar
Today 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. Continue to Missiri Koro where animists and Muslims worship side by side. Enter the natural cave used as mosque before returning to Sikasso. This afternoon, drive to Zerlaba where you will witness a traditional balafon dance performance.
Today is drive day as you transfer back to Bamako.
Overnight Azalai Grand Hotel or similar
Following breakfast at your hotel, drive southwest of Bamako to Siby in the Mande area. Dogon are originally from Mande area and they migrated to the cliffs in the 11th century. Because of the security situation in Dogon Country, many families have come back to their fatherland. Walk to the historical cave of Kamandjan, learn about the fascinating history before witnessing a fascinating Dogon Mask dance. Drive to Dioulafoundo, a very old Malinke village for dinner and a night under the stars.
Overnight Camping or similar
Enjoy breakfast as the sun rises before you then drive to Kangaba. On the way, you will visit Samako, an authentic Malinke village where you will see round and rectangular houses covered with thatches, the first belonging to the women and the second for men. See Kuru kan Fugan where the first constitution was pronounced in 1236 by the Emperor Soundiata Keita and 12 other kings. It is in this same place that the country received its name Mali. The Emperor said “Our land is now the biggest and the strongest one in the area, let’s give the name ‘Hippopotamus’ to our country” Hippopotamus, being the biggest and strongest animal in the water and on the earth, literally translates to Mali in the kings local language. See the sacred house which has its roof renewed every 7 years before returning to Bamako.
Overnight Azalai Grand 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.
Take in the view on Point G, the hill of health, the recycling market, the National Museum and the handicraft market. 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.
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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.