M A L I:  H I D D E N   J E W E L  o f   t h e  S A H E L

Mali – a mystical land of ancient civilizations and thriving empires. Undertake a journey through time - from the modern capital city of Bamako where multi-storey bank buildings and contemporary luxury hotels line the banks of the River Niger, back to the archaic lifestyles of the traditionally minded tribes of the Sahel. Wander through the medieval streets of Djenné and visit the magical Dogon Country, where time seems to stand still. Mali – a country between tradition and modernity that you should discover !

Day 1: Arrival at Bamako Senou Airport

Meet and greet with your tour leader and transfer to the hotel (15 km). 

(-/-),  Overnight at Bamako, Hotel Bamako Plage  or similar

Day 2: Bamako After breakfast your tour guide will give you detailed information about your trip. Later this morning we will explore Bamako visiting the fascinating National Museum which contains an interesting textile exhibition, as well as a number of archaeological artefacts and a large collection of cult objects and masks. On a walk through the well maintained botanical garden we’ll get acquainted with a variety of plants of the Sudanese and Sahelian zones. After a stroll through Bamako’s bustling central market and the colourful art craft market. (B/D),Overnight at Bamako, Hotel Bamako Plage  or similar Day 3: Bamako: excursion to Siby After breakfast we drive to Siby, a small town in the south-west of Bamako, embedded in the picturesque Mandingue Mountains. This morning we will take a guided 3-hour walk exploring the lush vegetation along the steep rocks. A moderate ascent brings us to the natural rock arch of Kamadjan overlooking the wide valley of the Niger River.  After lunch we will visit “La maison de Karité” where you can watch how shea butter is made. Later this afternoon we return to Bamako. (90 km) (B/D),Overnight at Bamako, Hotel Bamako Plage or similar Day 4: Bamako - Ségou Today we drive to Ségou. On the way we visit the village of Ségou-Koro, ancient Segou, first capital of the Bambara Kingdom where we will see the tomb and palace of Biton Mamary Coulibaly, founder of the kingdom, and two ancient mud mosques. In the afternoon we will take a tour of the town of Ségou visiting the French colonial quarter, a traditional millet beer brewery, a women’s cooperative of carpet weaving, a manufactory of bogolan, as well as the pottery market.Later this afternoon take a walk along the river Niger and enjoy the marvellous sunset. (ca. 250 km) (B/D),Overnight at Ségou, Hotel Auberge or similar Day 5: Ségou - Djenné Leaving Ségou after breakfast we head towards Djenné. The four-hours drive takes us across landscapes where baobabs and karité-trees are widespread.  Due to the special location of the town on an island we reach the town by a ferry over the river Bani. Djenné belongs to the UNESCO World Heritage sites since 1988. In the afternoon, we undertake a guided walk around the thousand-year-old town. We’ll discover the town‘s small streets with their well restored buildings in Sudanese, Moroccan and Tukulor style. From a terrace we enjoy the spectacular view on the famous Great Mosque of Djenné, the largest mud construction in the world while the sun is setting behind it. (B/D),Overnight at Djenné, Hotel Djenné Djenno or similar Day 6: Djenné - Mopti In the morning we go to the huge square in front of the Great Mosque where the famous weekly market takes place today. There are flocks of vendors and buyers dressed in colourful boubous streaming into town from neighbouring villages and as far afield as Burkina Faso, they come walking or on donkey carts, by bicycle or mopeds to participate in the market. In the afternoon we continue our journey to Mopti, affectionately called “Venice of Mali”. Heading out on foot we explore the amazingly busy harbour where colourful motorised wooden boats called pinasses are loaded and unloaded. We’ll see a traditional wharf where dozens of pirogues and larger boats are built or repaired and we’ll stroll through the bustling market. In the quarter of Komoguel, the old traditional part of Mopti, we’ll take a look at the mud mosque built in 1935 and recently restored by the Aga Khan Trust for Culture. Later this afternoon we return to the harbour. Enjoy a cold drink in the famous bar Le Bozo, the perfect place for a tremendous sunset and a stunning view on the life in the harbour. (130 km) (B/D),Overnight at Mopti, Hotel Kanaga or similar Day 7: Mopti - Bandiagara (Dogon Country) After breakfast we take a pinasse ride on the Niger River to visit some  of the neat mud-brick villages of the Peulh-Dorf and Bozo tribes lining its
banks. We’ll have the opportunity to experience the fascinating human activity along the river where ancient life styles have been preserved over the centuries. The Niger River is Mali's lifeline, the major part of the population lives near its shores and depend on it. In the afternoon a one- hour drive on a well-paved road takes us to Bandiagara, the gateway to the mystic Dogon country. (75 km). On our way we’ll visit the village of Songho with its ritual circumcision site decorated with rock paintings. (B/D), Overnight at Bandiagara, Hotel La Falaise or similar Day 8: Bandiagara: Excursion to Teli and Enndé An early departure for the the village of Djiguibombo (20 km), starting point of our hike (about 5 hours, moderate). We’ll descend the cliffs to the vast Gondo Plain and walk along the bottom of the Bandiagara escarpment to the villages of Teli and Enndé. We’ll be accompanied by an experienced local guide showing us traditional meeting houses (toguna), typical granaries, menstruation houses, fetishes, altars and sanctuaries. He tells us myths and legends of the mysterious Dogon and introduces us into their spiritual and religious beliefs. In Enndé we’ll visit a small exhibition of ancient tools. An indigo dyer will reveal the secrets of this ancient craft. In the afternoon we’ll return to Bandiagara (30 km) (B/D), Overnight at Bandiagara, Hotel La Falaise or similar Day 9: Bandiagara - Niongono - Sangha This morning our journey takes us to the village of Niongono which is still untouched by tourism. Like a medieval castle the village rises high above over the rough rock plateau. Later today we’ll continue to Sangha where we’ll experience the cultural highlight of our excursion to the Dogon Country: a ritual mask dance. The elders dressed in traditional indigo- dyed clothes and wearing typical Peulh hats, gather in the village square. The drums beat the rhythm as the dancers come out one by one, 20 – 30 dancers wearing powerful sirige masks, kanaga, antelope masks and even stilt masks. An unforgettable performance ! (B/D), Overnight at Sangha, Campement Le Guinna or similar Day 10: Sangha - Mopti We will start our hike (3 hours, moderate) early in the morning. From Sangha we’ll descend the cliffs to Banani situated in the Gondo Plain. Here our jeeps are waiting for us to bring us to Irelli, a picturesque village perched on the escarpment with a large number of cliff houses built by the mysterious Tellem people, a pygmy tribe who inhabited the area long before the arrival of the Dogon. We’ll visit the village and then return to Sangha. After lunch we drive back via Bandiagara to Mopti. (B/D),Overnight at Mopti, Hotel Kanaga or similar Day 11: Mopti - Teriyabougou This morning we travel to Teryabougou via the typical Sahelian town of San where we make an optional lunch stop. In the town center we’ll visit the mud mosque built in the Sudanese style. We drive through the immense savanna, the road is lined with strange-looking baobabs and huge mango trees. This afternoon we’ll reach Teryabougou, Mali’s first eco-hotel and part of a project founded by the French Father Bernard Verspieren under the motto "help to self-help". Welcome to the “house of  friendship” as the place is called in the local Bambara language! (325 km) (B/D), Overnight at Teryabougou Day 12: Teriyabougou - Bamako Our last day in Mali sees us heading back to Bamako where we’ll arrive in the afternoon. We have use of dayrooms and the afternoon is free for some last minute shopping. We will end our trip to Mali with a dinner in a traditional restaurant. Later this evening transfer to the airport. (B/D), dayrooms Please note that from time to time our itineraries may be amended.
Tour Highlights:
Bamako: Mali’s vibrant capital on the River     Niger Siby: Stunning rocky scenery Ségou: Bambara kingdom and colonial            atmosphere Djenné: Thousand-year-old town with            the world’s largest mud mosque Mopti: Mali’s vibrant harbour on the Niger River Idyllic boat ride on the Niger River Dogon Country: Experience the mysterious culture and traditions and witness a unique mask dance Teriyabougou: Private eco-project
(C) Vero Tours 2014
Vero Tours
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