Day 1: Bamako. Assistance for police and customs formalities and transfer by coach to the hotel. 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". Arrival to Bamako. Welcome by West Africa Tours team followed with your transfer to the hotel. Overnight at Hotel or Guest House.
Day 2: Bamako - Segou. Breakfast and depart to Segou. Crossing of Saharan typical landscapes and villages. 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 to the hotel, check-in followed with your lunch. In the afternoon, we will have the city tour that 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. Dinner and overnight at hotel.
Day 3: Segou - Mopti. Breakfast and depart to Mopti. Several photo-stops in Bambara and Bobo villages located all along your way. Lunch on route. Stop in Ganga to admire balafon players exhibition. Arrival to Mopti, check-in at hotel and go for the town visit: 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; the artisans’ souks with traditional traders offering a variety of locally-produced commodities and beautiful artifacts; the traditional boat factory, the beautiful Sudanese-style mosque of Komoguel, and the bustling local market. Dinner and overnight at hotel.
Day 4: Mopti - Timbuktu. Road and desert track with 4x4 - 400 Km: 06h00 + Ferry-boat crossing: 45 min. Breakfast and early depart to Timbuktu. Lunch at Douentza. Arrival at Timbuktu at the end of the day. Dinner and overnight at hotel or guest house.
Day 5: Timbuktu - Essakane. Town visit and desert track with 4x4 - 60 Km: 02h00. Breakfast and go for the mysterious town visiting Timbuktu: 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.
The ancient mosques including the famous mosque of Djingareiber the oldest and the famous Sankore whose reputation spanned all across North Africa and Europe as a leading Islamic academy for centuries; The Ahmed Baba Center where ancient books (some dating from the 14th century AD) are still preserved; The explorers (Gordon Laing, Rene Caillé, Henrich Barth) houses. After the lunch, you will depart for Essakane desert Festival site located 60 km from Timbuktu. On route visit to the Tuareg village of Farach famous for has been a place where Tuareg people had fiercely resisted against colonial penetration. Meet with the elders and discover local population activities and women co-operative association. Continuation 2Km to the site of the festival. Opening ceremony. Dinner followed by music show in the night. Overnight under Tuareg tents.
Day 6: Essakane. Created in January 2001, the "festival au désert" is held every year in Essakane, two hours from Timbouctou in Mali. This Festival seeks its origin in the big traditional Touareg festivities, as Takoubelt in Kidal and Temakannit in Tombouctou, which represented for long time a place for decision making and exchange of information among the different communities. At the beginning, there were songs and touareg dances, poetry, camel rides, games, etc. Today, the Festival is opened to the external world and welcomes artists from other Malian regions, other African countries, but also from Europe and from the whole world.
During three days, around 30 artistic groups are invited from all around the world to present their art. Due to the attention of the media and to the huge logistic effort that it is mobilizing, the Festival is now included among the Big Modern Festivals, though it maintains its traditional cultural aspects. Breakfast. Visit to the cultural stands. Tuareg traditional music and dances. Depart to Bankor (15 Km) to see desert unique archeological site. Discover the old Tuareg settlement. Admire the beautiful panoramic view on Lake Faguibine. Drive back to Essakane. Lunch and relaxation with Sahara desert blue people. Dinner followed by music show in the night. Overnight under Tuareg tents.
Day 7: Essakane. Breakfast. Visit to the cultural stands. Tuareg traditional music and dances. Lunch and relaxation with Sahara desert blue people. Tea party. Camel race. Dinner followed by music show in the night. Overnight under Tuareg tents.
Day 8: Essakane - Mopti. Desert track with 4x4 - 460 Km: 10h00 + 01h ferry boat crossing. Breakfast and drive back to Mopti. You will have your. Lunch on route. Arrival to Mopti at the end of the day. Dinner and overnight at Hotel.
Day 9: Mopti - Djenne. Asphalted road: 150 Km - 02h00. Breakfast and depart to Djenne the eternal town. Arrival followed with a walking tour of the city. 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 traveller back to medieval times". Sites to visit and to see: The town weekly market of Monday, the particular 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. Dinner and overnight at hotel.
Day 10: Djenne - Songho - Sangha. Breakfast and depart to Dogon country. Visit to Dogon villages located on the plateau, like Niongono, located on a peak and the picturesque village of Songho for its circumcision grotto. Travel a short distance to Bandiagara for the lunch and proceed to Sangha in the heart of Dogon Country. Check-in at hotel. Dinner and overnight.
Day 11: Sangha - Mopti. Breakfast and transfer depart for a full day discovering of the way of life of Dogon people. Today will require a bit of walking and stamina as we visit the picturesque Dogon villages along the World Heritage listed Bandiagara cliffs like Daga, Banani, Ireli. 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.
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…Pic-nic lunch at Banani and trekking back to Sangha. 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 (optional). Dogon dancers are world-renowned and often consist of dances on stilts while wearing broad-brimmed hats and amazing facial decorations. Continuation to Mopti. Arrival at the end of the day. Dinner and overnight at your hotel.
Day 12: Mopti - Bamako. Breakfast and depart to Bamako. Lunch on route. Arrival to Bamako at the end of the day. Dinner and overnight at hotel or guest house.
Day 13: Bamako - Departure. Breakfast and go for Bamako city tour. The artisan and the fetish market. The National Museum: It contains some beautiful ethnographic pieces from many of Mali’s ethnic groups. The panoramic view from point G on the escarpment north of the city. Lunch in a local restaurant. Time at leisure. Dinner in a typical restaurant of the town and transfer to airport for final departure.
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