Day 1: Arrival in Bamako. Arrival in Bamako, the capital of Mali, and transfer to the hotel. Bamako is a Bambara word meaning "Crocodile River". It used to be a small Bozo fishing and trading community. In 1883, the French captured the town and soon it 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. Bambara is the dominant people in the capital city and its surroundings, but virtually all other ethnic groups of Mali are represented here, too. Bamako is considered the fastest growing city of Africa. Overnight: Bamako - Azalai Grand or similar hotel.
Day 2: Bamako. In the morning you will have the city tour of Bamako. Begin with a panoramic overview of this sprawling city from the Point G. Then visit the National Museum, which is surrounded by the lovely garden with replicas of the most famous landmarks of Mali. It presents permanent and temporary exhibits on the prehistory of the country, as well as the musical instruments, dress, and ritual objects associated with Mali's various ethnic groups.
Also visit one of city markets, the artisans' village and the fetish market for traditional medicine. While in the market you may bargain for such goods as masks, rugs, pottery and jewelry. Overnight: Bamako - Azalai Grand or similar hotel. Meal: Breakfast.
Day 3: From Bamako to Timbuktu. This morning fly to Timbuktu, whose mere name conjures up thoughts of the ends of the earth. It was once a watering spot for caravans traveling across the Sahara. Timbuktu was established by the nomadic Tuareg as early as the 10th century. There are plenty of points of interest in Timbuktu, particularly 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 are still preserved; and former houses of such explorers as Gordon Laing, Rene Caillé and Henrich Barth. After lunch depart for a camel excursion into the desert where you will have an opportunity to meet and have tea with the Touareg people. The Tuareg people are known as the Blue Men of the Desert, for the blue tinge on the skin from their indigo-dyed robes. Overnight: Timbuktu - Azali or similar hotel. Meal: Breakfast.
Day 4: From Timbuktu to Mopti. After breakfast head to the local airport, board the plane and get a short flight. Arrive in Mopti, which is located at the confluence of Niger and Bani Rivers. Mopti is the region's commercial center and Mali's most important river port. There are plenty of goods in markets of Mopti, including salt blocks from Taudenni. The historic waterfront is packed with brightly painted boats and people selling their goods.
It is fun to watch workers building boats in the workshop. If time allows, the optional boat trip on Bani and Niger River is highly recommended. Watch Bozo people village life from the boat. Overnight: Mopti - Kanaga or similar hotel. Meal: Breakfast.
Day 5: From Mopti to Djenne and Dogon Country. After the relatively short drive arrive in Djenne, which history is closely linked with that of Timbuktu. Between the 15th and 17th centuries much of the trans-Sahara trade in goods such as salt, gold and slaves that moved in and out of Timbuktu passed through Djenne.
This town is famous for its Sudanese-style architecture. Nearly all of the buildings in the town, including the Great Mosque, are made from sun-baked mud bricks which are coated with mud plaster. The Great Mosque of Djenne is the largest mudbrick building in the world.
As well as being the center of the community of Djenne, it is one of the most famous landmarks not only in Mali, but in whole Africa. Along with the Old Town of Djenne it was designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1988. Besides the Great Mosque the main attractions in Djenne are two-storey mud houses with their monumental facades.
The best known house is that of the Maiga family who supply the town's tradition chief. This old building with its Toucouleur-style entrance porch is in the Algasba district on the eastern side of the town. After completing the tour in Djenne head to Dogon Country. Overnight: Dogon Country - Guina or similar basic hotel. Meals: Breakfast.
Day 6: Dogon Country. This day is devoted of exploration of Dogon Country, considered one of the most extraordinary places on earth. 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.
Visit the village of Sanga, renowned for its rock paintings and circumcision grotto. Your guide will explain the significance of the many sacred objects. Rich in culture, the area is famous for its unique architecture, granaries and fetish houses. Overnight: Dogon Country - Guina or similar basic hotel. Meals: Breakfast, Lunch.
Day 7: Dogon Country. Descend the Bandiagara escarpment and visit Dogon cliff villages. Banani is known for its Tellem buildings and a seasonal waterfall. To reach Amani with its sacred crocodile pool you will pass hamlets of Ireli and Yaye. Next is Tireli famous for its pottery. Tireli is the best place to see a Dogon mask ceremony and a lively market.
See granaries and ancient houses under the escarpment wall and observe stones, which have turned white from decades of millet porridge being poured over them. These stones are watched out by old women performing a ceremony on behalf of villagers who wish to appease spirits of ancestors. Overnight: Dogon Country - Guina or similar basic hotel. Meals: Breakfast, Lunch.
Day 8: From Dogon Country to Ouagadougou. In the morning depart from Dogon Country and travel through picturesque villages and valleys to the border. After completing formalities enter Burkina Faso and continue the way to Ouagadougou, the capital of the country. The name Ouagadougou means "where people get honor and respect" and it dates back to the 15th century when the Ninsi tribes inhabited the area. Since then the city became the capital of the Mossi Empire.
The French made Ouagadougou the capital of the Upper Volta territory in 1919 and after the territory became independent and renamed to Burkina Faso, literally meaning a "land of upright men", the city continued to keep its status of an administrative and economic center of the country. Overnight: Ouagadougou - Silmande or similar hotel. Meal: Breakfast.
Day 9: Ouagadougou. Today you explore Ouagadougou and the city tour starts with a stop at the Moro-Naba Palace, which is the place of colorful weekly ceremonies. Also visit the Grand Market, which is livelier in mornings. Next is the National Museum, with its interesting collection of regional clothing, masks, household utensils and ancestral statues. Another local museum has a collection of African musical instruments. See such landmarks as the statue of a woman handling a calabash at the railway station and the globe on the United Nations Square.
See also "La Place du Grand Lyon", a monument that reflects the relationship between Burkina Faso’s capital and Lyon in France. It is located near the French Cultural Center and features an imposing lion. The local cathedral is quite impressive, though both towers were never completed. While in the craft center look for basketry, batik fabrics, wooden statues and masks, jewelry, leatherwork and bronze castings. Overnight: Ouagadougou - Silmande or similar hotel. Meal: Breakfast.
Day 10: Ouagadougou and Tiebele. This day visit surroundings of Ouagadougou. In the morning head to the urban park named Bangr-Weoogo, or "forest where you acquire knowledge". It is an ancient sacred forest, already classified by the French in 1936 and representing a green lung for the town, a place of entertainment, and a privileged place for environmental education. The park has huts used for observation of species living in the area, including roan antelope, Sahel turtle, hyenas and various monkeys.
In the afternoon visit the village of Tiebele, which is located in the area populated by Gurunsi people. Oral traditions of the Gurunsi hold that they originated from the western Sudan near Lake Chad. While in Tiebele, see magnificent fortress-like houses and compounds, colorfully painted with traditional motifs. Overnight: Ouagadougou - Silmande or similar hotel. Meal: Breakfast.
Day 11: From Ouagadougou to Niamey. After breakfast depart Burkina Faso capital and head to the Niger border via the Sahelian and countryside dotted with numerous villages and small towns. Shortly after crossing the border arrive in Niamey, the lively capital of Niger. Comparing to many other West African capitals, Niamey is quite charming. The Niger River provides a focal point to the city and the Kennedy Bridge connects parts of Niamey located on opposite banks.
Niamey is quite young, it traces its origin in the eighteenth century. Before French colonial administration made it a capital, there were only two thousand residents in then a little town. Since that Niamey grew up rapidly, especially after Niger became independent, and its population approached a million. Overnight: Niamey - Grand or similar hotel. Meal: Breakfast.
Day 12: Niamey and the W National Park. Today you will visit the W National Park, which was declared by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. The park is located on the right bank on Niger River near borders with Burkina Faso and Benin. In fact, portions of the W National Park belong to these two countries. The curious name of the park derives from its shape reminding a letter W.
This park is known for its large mammals, including aardvarks, baboons, buffalo, caracal, cheetahs, elephants, hippopotamuses, leopards, lions, serval and warthogs. The area is also known for its bird populations, especially transitory migrating species, with over 350 species identified within W National Park boundaries. View wildlife and beautiful scenery and return to Niamey after completing your safari. Overnight: Niamey - Grand or similar hotel. Meal: Breakfast.
Day 13: Niamey. In the morning you will have the city tour of Niamey. Attractions in the city include the Niger National Museum, incorporating a zoo, a museum of vernacular architecture, a craft centre, and various exhibits including dinosaur skeletons. The museum is one of the best national exhibitions in West Africa. Various themed pavilions, which resemble Hausa architecture, will give you a peek into Niger's history, culture and nature.
The pavilion devoted to uranium mining in the Sahara Desert is particularly interesting. There are also American, French and Nigerien cultural centres, seven major market centers including the large Niamey Grand Market, a traditional wrestling arena and a horse track in the city. While touring around the city you will also see the National Assembly and the Grand Mosque. Transfer to the airport for the late evening return flight. Meal: Breakfast.
- Accommodation according to the itinerary
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Africa Mali Burkina Faso Niger Local Culture Cultural Journey National Parks
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