Since, this country was done discrete but still has in its center a priceless wealth: the Plateau of Bandiagara. By its geological, archaeological, ethnological characteristics and its exceptional cliff landscapes, it is one of the most imposing sites of West Africa. Indeed, it shelters very beautiful architectures (dwellings, altar stones, sanctuaries and men shelters called Togunas) and has prestigious social traditions still alive (masks, ritual and popular festivals, worships to the ancestors through several ceremonies) perpetuated through the centuries by Dogons one of the most astonishing people of all Africa. Cut off since from the centuries to the chaotic universe of cliffs of Bandiagara as in a fortress, they knew to safeguard their culture which is deeply influenced by a single cosmogony.
From sandy dunes of the north to savannas of the south, there are many things to see in Mali: Superb landscapes, villages with animated and colorful markets, majestic mud-made mosques; The River Niger, this attractive river, a casting of similar life in the Nile which traverses the country liberally and comes to be lost in an interior delta, by giving life to the arid grounds; The legendary cities of Timbuktu and Djenné, but also cities and areas less known but not less interesting.
Day 1: Bamako. Arrival to Bamako International airport. Welcome by your guide and transfer to the hotel for the night. Briefing with the guide. Bamako: "Bamako is a Bambara word meaning "Crocodiles River". In 1806 Bamako was a Bozo fishing and trading community of about 6000 people. In 1883, the French captured the town and in 1908 Bamako became their regional seat of power and they built their residence on the hill of Koulouba. At the independence in 1960, Bamako was chosen as the capital”. Overnight at hotel. Hôtel Kempinski or similar.
Day 2: Bamako/Segou
Breakfast and depart to Segou. Segou: "Segou was between the 17th and 18th century the capital City of the powerful Bambara Kingdom. The city was used a long time as a basis for the wars which Bambara delivered against Islam before falling to the hands from the French at the end of the 19th century. Segou was the former colonial administrative Capital and today is Mali’s second largest city". On route we will make a stop to visit Segoukoro which means in Bambara language the "Old Segou". It is the location of Bambara Kingdom’s former capital. You can see the vestibule and the tomb of Mamary Biton Coulibaly, the Founder of the Kingdom and try to understand how Animism and Muslim were intimately bound. Arrival and check-in at hotel. Lunch. In the afternoon, we’ll go for a short walking tour of the town. This tour includes the pottery market along the Niger River banks and the "Colonial Quarter". Admire the beautiful Sudanese-style colonial architecture. The local beer fabric, the women shops for their beautiful bogolan and local art galleries. Dinner and overnight at hotel. Hôtel L’Auberge or similar.
Day 3: Segou/Djenne
Breakfast and early departure for a long way road heading to Djenne. Crossing of the sahelian typical landscapes. You have time to admire commercial activities in Bobo and Bambara small villages located all along the way. Lunch stop at San. Arrive to Djenne at the end of the day and visit to the town’s archaeological Museum of the “Mission culturelle” where you can see some pieces coming from the ruins of Djenne-Djeno, an ancient settlement that dates back to about 300. Check-in at hotel. A short walking tour will lead you to a local restaurant for the dinner. Overnight at hotel. Hôtel L’Auberge du Maafir or similar.
Day 4: Djenne/Bandiagara
Breakfast and go for a visit to the town. Djenne: "Founded in the 4th century, Djenne has scarcely changed since the Middle Ages. In the 13th-15th centuries, Djenne was a rival of Timbuktu for the wealth of the Trans-Saharan trade. The city is located on an island in the inland Niger delta, and is surrounded by mud brick walls. As well as making a visit to the archaeological site of Djenné-Djeno that looks backward in time over a 1.000 years. Generation after generation, a guild of highly skilled master-builders, the Baris, have ensured Djenne’s architectural integrity. The atmosphere in the streets brings the traveler back to medieval times".
Sites to visit and to see: the town Sudanese architecture; the largest mud made mosque in the world; the chief’s house; the sacred well of Nana Wangara; the tomb of the young woman who was walled in alive to give the town prosperity; the market place. Most of the time this place is quiet but on Monday which is the market day, this place is packed with traders and customers coming from villages all around. This market has its origin back in medieval time. The barter economy is still used. Depart to Bandiagara after your lunch. On route, visit to Songho, a Dogon village famous for its series of symbolic carvings in a cave used for traditional circumcision ceremonies. Drive a short distance to Bandiagara. Arrival and check-in at the hotel. Overnight at hotel. Hôtel Le Cheval Blanc or similar.
Day 5: Bandiagara/Kani/Teli/Ende/Bandiagara. Early breakfast and transfer to the Dogon cliff for a full day sightseeing. Visit to Kani Kombole village. See its beautiful small mosque. At Telly you will probably be impressed by the particular architecture of this village. Picnic lunch followed with visit of Ende. Meet the village chief and elders. Drive back to Bandiagara at the end of the day. Dinner and overnight at hotel. Hôtel Le Cheval Blanc or similar.
Day 6: Bandiagara/Daga/Tireli/Banani/Mopti
Breakfast followed with your transfer with 4x4 to Daga. Today will require a bit of walking and stamina as we visit the picturesque Dogon villages along the World Heritage listed Bandiagara cliffs like Ireli, Amani and Banani. These villages are small and built out of local stone, again with the granaries being topped by thatched roofs. Prepare: hats for the sun, good walking shoes for the escarpments, comfortable clothes, small bag, sunglasses and water. During your trek towards the Dogon villages along the Bandiagara cliffs, you will see the "impure women’s" house, the tellem caves, the togunas and the fetish altar of the Hogon (The Dogon people’s traditional and religious leader).
As we walk from village to village we will get a good insight into lives of the Dogon as well as an appreciation for their arts and crafts. Picnic lunch at Banani. Arrival to Sangha, the cultural capital of Dogon Country. Before entering to Sangha, we will visit the Dogon Traditional Devin who conformly to the tradition still predicts the future to Dogon people and visitors. We will then admire the Dogon masks dance. Dogon dancers are world-renowned and often consist of dances on stilts while wearing broad-brimmed hats and amazing facial decorations. Continuation to Mopti (130 Km – 03h30 from Sangha). Dinner and overnight at your hotel. Hotel Ambedjelé or similar.
Day 7: Mopti/Niger River/Douentza. Breakfast and depart for the city tour. Mopti: The city of Mopti is known as the "Venice of Mali". Mopti is located at the confluence of the Bani and Niger rivers, and is built on several interconnected islands. It is from the river that one can best observe the commercial and social activities of the town. Mopti is literally teaming up with traditional traders offering a variety of locally-produced commodities and beautiful artifacts.
This tour includes: the beautiful Sudanese-style mosque of Komoguel; the artisans’ souks with traditional traders offering a variety of locally-produced commodities and beautiful artifacts; the traditional boat factory, and the bustling local market; the lively fishing harbor on the Bani River where you can still find slabs of salt for sale in a continuation of an age-old trade between Morocco and Mali. Embark on a motorized riverboat for one day sailing on the Niger River heading to Douentza. During the sailing you will visit Bozo fishermen’s villages and nomadic Fulani camps along the way. Lunch on board. Arrival to Konna and transfer with 4x4 to Douentza. Dinner and overnight at hotel. Hotel La Falaise de Douentza.
Day 8: Douentza/Timbuktu. Breakfast and depart to Timbuktu. Arrival to Koriome harbour and transfer to the town for the lunch. In the afternoon a camel ride will lead you to the desert around Timbuktu.
Menu: Tea party, traditional mechoui, introduction to history of Timbuktu and Tuareg dance. Overnight under Tuareg tent.
Day 9: Timbuktu. Full day visit of Timbuktu. Breakfast and depart for a full day visit of the "mysterious town". Timbuktu was formerly a great commercial trading city and an international center of Islamic learning. The city was probably founded in the late 11th century AD by Tuareg nomads. Tuareg formed one of the most ancient tribal people of the Sahara. They speak a Berber language, Tamacheq, and have their own alphabet. In ancient times, the Tuareg controlled the trans-Sahara routes and substantially contributed in the expansion of Islam in sub-Saharan Africa even though they retained however some of their older rites.
Today, the Tuareg symbolize the mysteries of the Sahara and continued to be seen as the Masters of the Desert Today we will visit the legendary city of Timbuktu, gateway to the Sahara Desert: This city tour includes: the market which receives the azalaïs; the salt caravans from the desert; the ancient mosques and former universities (Djingareiber, Sankore); the ethnological museum that contains a good variety of exhibits including clothing, musical instruments, jewelery; the explorers Gordon Laing, René Caillé and Einrich Barth houses; the "Center Ahmed Baba" for its ancient manuscripts and books…Lunch and relax. Free time in the afternoon. Dinner and overnight at hotel. Hotel La Colombe or similar.
Day 10: Timbuktu/Bamako/Departure. Breakfast and transfer to the airport for your flight back to Bamako. Arrival, check-in at hotel. Lunch. Bamako city tour in the afternoon: the market; the artisan’s and the fetish market; the art galleries (African arts center; Santoro; Indigo); the National museum with it’s over 4000 pieces relating the history of Mali people; you can see some traditional masks as well as funeral objects and handicrafts; the panoramic point of view from "Point G" hill. Drive back to the hotel. Free time for last minutes purchases. Dinner, in a typical restaurant of the city and transfer to the airport for your final departure.
Price for Single Supplement: 232$
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Africa Mali Local Culture Cultural Journey
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