After six nights of rough camping, the hotel seemed the utmost in luxury.
Situated on the outskirts of town but within easy walking distance of the centre, the hotel is a haven of peace and tranquility. Said to be the best hotel in Mali, the rooms are airconditoned, and have TV and most importantly: running hot and cold water in a spotlessly clean bathroom.
There is a thatched roof bar and the restaurant served the best meal we had in Mali - real good quality steak and a yummy chocholate mousse!
The swimming pool is very welcoming and there are sunbeds scattered arond the patio with waiter service.
I must mention a very funny story at this point: We had spend six nights roughing it and all were very very pleased to be staying in such unashamed luxury. When we got up the first morning, we noticed that someone was camping out under a mosquito net on a sunbed by the pool. Thinking it was one of the staff, we were very surprised to discover it was one of our group: he had been unable to work the airconditoning in the room, and finding his room-mate's snoring too much to bear, decided it was better to sleep outside!
We started our trek into Dogon Country from Sangha, staying in the Campement Sangha.
Rooms in a couple of accommodation blocks were mostly en suite, but basic. Don't leave anything on the floor - the bathroom was 4 inches higher than the bedroom, no sill or door and the floor sloped towards the bedroom. Hence we you had a shower, the entire bedroom became flooded.
Reasonable restaurant and you are able to leave stuff here safely while you go off on your trek which is very useful.
The last night of the trek, we pitched our tents on the Tigou Plateau. Although the ground was incredibly hard (rock), I slept surprisingly well. The villagers entertained us with dancing until the early hours of the morning (well, it probably wasn't any later than 10pm, but we'd been up since 5am and trekked for 15 miles, so snoozed off before they did.)
Toilets were - well, non existent. One rock for number ones, one rock for number twos. We weren't even able to bury the evidence in the sand as we usually did. (if you saw someone walk off with a spade, you knew where they were going)
On the outskirts of town, in a quiet neighbourhood, Hotel Mande has great views over River Niger.
Accommodation is either in little rondavels, or in the main buildings. Rooms vary in quality from mediocre to very good.
There is an excellent restaurant on stilts over the river - great for a colling breeze, but beware of mosquitos. There is also a very nice pool.
There is - supposedly - internet acces in the hotel, although it was not working when we were there.
On the edge of town whilst still being within walking distance of everything, Hotel Colombe offers comfort for the weary traveller.
A downstairs bar and rooftop restaurant with views over the streets of Timbuktu, as well as a small shop by the reception.
The rooms were more than adequate with comfortable beds and en suite bathroom with hot and cold water.
The Campement consists of a few small traditional mud rondavels and some larger accommodation blocks. The rooms are basically a bed in a mud hut, with nothing else! There are mixed ablutions blocks, rather unclean and unsavoury. Electricity is erratic.
The highlight of our stay here was meeting Michael Palin, who was also staying at this place while filming his series Sahara. He is a thoroughly nice chap in real life, and every bit as funny as he is on TV!
The garden is a great spot for birding.
There is a reastaurant with mediocre food - they will provide you with a sandwich for a picnic if you ask.
Laundry is available - if you don't mind your knickers hanging next to the restaurant!
There are post cards for sale by the reception - some of the few post cards I saw in all of Mali.
From Bamako we travelled with our truck to the south. We camped at the road side.
It was our first night in the brousse. We learned to make noise for chasing away the snakes, when we had to go to the ''open air toilet'' behind your tent during the night.
We didn't look out very well this first night and put our tent on a very small termitary. This was the first and last time we made this mistake.
A couple of days spent here after the Dogon treks or days spent eating laterite dust(thats the red stuff that gets in everywhere)are well worth while. Run by a very friendly lebanese family, rooms are clean, a/c that works and a very good service at the restaurant . The rooms are in an annexe that lies in the street opposite and thus are away from the bustle of the main street.
Update from January 2009 - The Auberge now has a new annexe adding quite a few more bedrooms. Only a five minute walk from the reception/bar/restaurant.
One of the rare hotels in Mali that actually has HOT running water, and the big plus-a swimming pool that is kept spotless.
The night before our visit to Djenne in 1989 we camped at the Bani River, just at the crossing place, where the piroques would leave.
It was Christmas Eve. And we had the most breathtaking sunset and tropical evening, you can imagine before Christmas.
From this camp-site it was very easy to take a piroque very early in the morning. In the evening we spoke allready with the boatsmen about our early departure the next morning, so we could be in time in Djenne.
The sleeping camel is no doubt the place to be in Bamako/Mali. Not only do they have a very relaxing oasis in the dusty busy city of Bamako they provide amazing food (everyone who has been to Mali or any other West African country knows that good food Western/European style is a lack!) and cold (in many other places there is no refridgerators) beers and drinks!!
But the best is the connections you get there: It's Number 1 hangout for any other backpackers, travelers, and the owners Matt and Bill have lived there for long time and get you everything what you need to have. Help with visas for other countries, trips to anywhere in the country, etc. Unfortunately at the very moment the north of Mali is in war - I cross my fingers for this beautiful country and for the Sleeping Camel and all my friends there!!
Pool, cold drinks, cheap dorms and affordable twins. outstanding hospitality, best connections in Mali!
Like most accomodations in Mali, the price is higher than it's worth, but the restaurant is good for breakfast, and the view of the river is totally worth it. The hotel has AC, so no need for the mosquito net.
View of the Niger River. During the afternoon rain, we peered out the window at the river. The hotel room doesn't have a balcony or big picture window or anything fancy like that, but it has AC, satellite television, good water pressure, and an adequate restaurant downstairs. You'll want to bargain for service though as the sheets won't be changed each day unless you demand it.
In Kayes we stayed in the Tieba hotel south of the city centre. It is not far from the old airport. Everybody knows that old airport.
The hotel has a nice garden, where you can also stall your car. You can only stall your car inside the fences of the hotel, if it is not too high, because the entrance gate is rather low . We had problems to go in and out.
It was great to sit in the shade in the garden with a cool coke or beer after we had a very heavy and dusty ride with dust everywhere, in our clothes, hair, face, nose and ears.
Hotel Tieba has basic rooms, but they are OK with private toilet and shower. In the shady garden you can order a good meal. Who matters, that is was chicken and pommes frites again as almost at all the places where we had our dinner. It tasted great !
In 1989 was Ben's Bar the only place in Bankas, where you could camp or hire a room. Also was this the place in Bankas, where you could hire a good guide for the Dogon Country. So we did.
I liked the easygoing place of Ben's Bar. Nowadays there are more possibilities to spend the night in Bankas. So look around and inform yourself.
A great stay to be had here. Mac is an American that was born to protestant missionnaries in Sangha. Each bedroom is named after an ethnic group and decorated in that style. He seems to be a very good cook as well, although he now has a Malian cook to help out. Every evening the menu changes from Mexican to American to Moroccan, never the same on the 7 days in a week costing 5.000 cfa (7.50 euros).
Double ventilated rooms are priced at 18.000 cfa (27.50 euros) with own WC and shower.
Dormitory rooms are at 7.000 cfa per bed.
Vehicles (3) can be accomodated inside the gates that are closed at 23.00h unless prior arrangements are made with staff.
The sumptuous breakfast is included in the price of the rooms.
In Mali, you will find some cheap, small hotels or guesthouses. It's also not uncommen to stay in a house with a familly, as the maliens have a very well developped hospitality!
As a bus journey can tend to be a long lasting event, you have alsao sometimes to sleep next to the bus in the middle of nowhere...
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