Choose your guide carefully
Even in Segou and Mopti, guides pleaded to return to their "home" in Dogon Country, showing us photo albums and reference letters. Yet, the costs of keeping a guide from Segou or Mopti is greater than from Bankass or Bandiagara. Our guide was the supposed brother of a man we met outside Mopti while waiting for the bache. We bought food and water at a local store, and the we all traveled on to Bandiagara. We got settled in the only decent hotel in town (see hotel tips), and had a nice meal. The Muslim guide took us by local van and dutifully carried belongings down the escarpment to where we ate lunch. Then, the problems began. We had a fully covered contract, but he claimed at first that he didn't money for the donkey cart, and then we hurried past major villages that were planned stops. The guide was a good hiker but not a guide; No time to stop he complained. Then he found his planned encampment abandoned. In the morning, I had become ill from the heat of the day before, and the bad food at the encampment that sheltered us. The guide's whining and the encampment demands for money, convinced my wife that we had seen enough. So, with the balanced owed the guide at the trips end, she hired a car and driver. I vomited a couple of times during the bumpy ride out. The guide persisted again at the hotel, but the hotel manager quickly intervened and dispatched him never to be seen again. Advice: wait until Bandiagara or later for a guide. Deal only with the guide, not a "family". The cost of a hotel package service would have cost a lot more and encumbered us with service we really didn't want. Our guide was not a bad man and did lose salary in the end. There are many honest guides to be found in Bandiagara at reasonable rates. Ask around and find one that speaks your language well. Save some balance to be paid at the trip's end.
- Budget Travel
- Hiking and Walking
Transportation from Bandiagara to Koro
Those heading on to Koro and Burkina Faso should consider carefully their transportation options. We left on a Sunday and were obligated to hire a car and driver. After negotiating the consider sum of $35 for a 4 two hour trip (gas is expensive in Mali), the van was loaded, and just outside of town the vehicle broke an axle. The driver said, "no problem, I'll fix and we go on". I marveled at his optimistism, having observed the harsh breakdown unlike I've never seen before. Fortunately, we were tracking through sand and the vehicle didn't flip. If we had traveled much farther, we could have risked falling off one of the steep mountain curves. Anyway, with the help of another passenger, we negotiated to get some of our cash back, and another vehicle was summoned. On other days, a bus travels between Bandiagara and Koro, but there was no bache service that I knew of. Options can be considered down at the central transport lot in Bandiagara.
- Budget Travel
- Road Trip