Silt or sand there are a few small islands that you can visit during a cruise or just catch a pinase over to from Mopti. These are usually small villages where the living is tough. It is a great way to see the real Mali as things are done the hard way out here. Most of the villages on the islands are supported by fishing.
A great way to spend the morning is to walk the port and see the loading and unloading of all the Pinases that ply the river. Everything from generators to firewood head up and down the river along with boats overloaded with locals trying to get around
The Niger is the main artery in Mali. Most commerce travels along it. If you are not going up to Timbuktu on it you can easily arrange a sunset cruise that will give you a decent taste of the river for a few hours. Once you are on the river I think you begin to understand the Malain way of life since so much depends on this river.
A very relaxing, and entertaining, way to end the day in Mopti is to take a cool drink at the Bozo Bar (Fisherman's Bar) on the corner of the port and river. Work your way through the market to the furthest corner where you will find the bar with a warm welcome and cool drink. Because of its location there is always plenty going on to watch in the port and on the river and you get a great view of the sunset.
One of the pleasures of visiting Africa is to stroll through the markets. Every city and town of consequence has a market. Some of the smaller towns might have market only one or two days a week. A bigger city like Mopti has market every day. Nothing innately ostentatious about the markets, just locals bringing their wares to sell, but the sights, sounds and smells tend to overwhelm a westerner like myself. Something new on view at every stall. Some wares look delightful, others repugnant. But it is all interesting.
Though the world famous mud mosques of Tombouctou and Djenne are much larger, Mopti has a pleasing mud mosque of its own. Unfortunately, for the tourist, the mosque is off-limits to non-muslims. However, it is possible to visit the rooftops of some of the homes in the immediate vicinity of the mosque for a splendid view of Mopti and the grand mosque. An added benefit of such an excursion is the chance to see the interior of a typical family home. A far cry from western homes as these folks cook over open flames, wash without plumbing and have no refrigeration.
A little bit different from say Hamburg's harbor or Seattle's harbor. But this is a working harbor nonetheless. Mopti is the center of commerce for Malian towns that lie on the Niger River and if you are lucky you might see salt slabs from Tombouctou arrive at the harbor.
Mopti bills itself as the "Venice" of Mali. I'm afraid I cannot concur with its self-appointed nomenclature. Mopti is many things, but Venice it is not.
Mopti is a rather bustling port city given its size and location on the Niger River. There are all sort of watercraft plying the river loaded with all manner of goods and passengers. We took a little cruise in a couple pinasses and took in views of Mopti from the river and traveled downstream to a little Bozo fishing village. The Bozo people are fishermen by trade and live many months of the year on the river itself.