Take a pinasse at Mopti’s harbour and go to visit the Bozo villages. Bozo people are basically fishermen who live on the shores of Niger River. (picture 2) Their poor and quiet villages contrast with the busy Mopti. But even if the constructions are poor, they don't forget those kind of details (sometimes it's only a touch of colour) that make you feel "at home" (picture 4)
I don’t like these touristy programs, I really don’t like them! But after seeing that 2-3 buildings there is nothing else to do in Tumbouctou and walking along the streets has no interest (and it is very stressful because of the Touaregs!) so I had to choose between the pinasse cruises to see the hippos or staying at the hotel. Mali is not a country known for its fauna and nobody wanted to guarantee us that we were going to see the hippos either . . . At the end and after a 3 hours cruise we saw two hippo heads (wow!) and we took some nice sunset pictures as well but it was (for me!) incredibly boring. Next time I will stay at the hotel sleeping.
This is not recommended for the faint of heart and those that worry too much about their vehicle, as quite often the ferry has to stop 5 metres from the sand. Even with the runways down there are still a few heart-stopping moments as you wonder "Am I going to make it".
Ferry cost is 2.500 cfa per vehicle and includes passengers. The return is also included.
Heavy goods vehicles are too heavy for the ferry so have to try and make it across the double sand-bank at low water. See pic. 5 for the result!!!!!
This small village has the merit of being probably the cleanest I've ever seen on my travels in Africa. The streets are regularly swept, the houses painted and a real welcome from the village elders under their tree. We were asked by the Imam if we wanted to visit the new mosque, that had only recently been finished. The village chief was proud to tell us that every person in the village helped and only took 47 days to erect. This was quite an event, us being "non-believers" but went off very well. We were allowed to visit the prayer rooms, seperate for the men and women, and also allowed on the roof.
The village is situated on the left coming from Sevaré , back towards Djenné after about 10 kms. A naturally friendly place warrants a visit. Don't forget your cola nuts !!
On your way down to the gold fields near the border with Guinea is the town of Siby. We were welcomed into town by the village chief who gave us the tour of the market. The market here, takes place every Saturday. Near town you can visit the refreshing waterfalls of Danda and after a stiff walk, the Kamadjan arch. The area is renowned for its mangos, known locally as the "gold of Siby".
Take a road trip from Bamako towards the border wirh Guinée, passing by Sibi (the road is south-west ) to see the antiquated way they find their gold in Mali. You will need an experienced guide to take you, as this IS in the wilds. The men dig pits, up to 5 metres deep, and then dig further tunnels to make the pits meet , then haul the earth to the surface for the women to wash and search for the ore. These people risk their lives every day for a pittance, but were amongst the most humble and friendliest we met on our trip.
There are only few petrol stations in Mali, all in the main cities. On the roads or in the villages, you have some people selling petrol in a bottle. You can buy a bottle of beer full of petrol.
(Don't use this petrol, your engine will be angry with you!)
The villages that are near Djenne make this stop worth an extra couple of days. Hire a guide, rent a scooter, and off you go across an expanse of earth typically waterborne during the rainy season. I assume that these villages need pirogues to get there then. Some villages are muslim and have their own smaller versions of the great mud mosque. Traditional crafts and tribal costume can be seen in the alley ways. Other villages are animist, and in these you'll find villagers with standards of dress and conduct quite remote from the sensibilities of the industrialized world. I highly recommend Assika Landoura, who also has a Europeanized nickname that he goes by. He'll find you in Djenne or try contacting him by e-mail. He's young, professional, and can arrange everything for you.
Hey look-that's me animating a classroom on the wonders of witchcraft in North America-every week, each group was host to an educational day, and ours was a comparison of witchcraft between here and Africa-Good thing I knew a little bit about the subject, there’s a lot of strange magic around these parts......
This is one of the many streets that we walked on(so many times)
Africa is a place of walking by the way.....I lost 20 pounds doing just that while I was there..... There's something to be said about a seeing rotting cow carcass or a burning pile of garbage..... Some of the things that affect you, some of the things you think about while on one of the journeys you make in these streets- North American life is desperately trying to seep it's way in here, and it's difficult for the natives to find a way to accept-or get rid of it........
In the area north of Kayes live Fulani, Soninke and Black Moor tribes. These nomadic tribes live in small communities scattered throughout the Sahel, usually many miles from each other.
Not far north of Kayes we saw the first small villages with not more than one or a few compounds, scattered in the landscape far away from any facilities. The compounds had round huts, constructed with the natural materials of the region.
The walls of the huts are made of mud and the huts have thatched roofs, like in many parts of Africa. These villages and compounds fit perfectly in the surrounding landscape, like they allready do for centuries.
For more information and pictures see my Region de Kayes page.
The area north of Kayes is a grassy Sahel area, stretching along the southern part of the Sahara desert.
There were no roads, only tracks, which we could not always recognize very clearly, because sometimes they were destroyed during the rainy season.
The first part of the landscape north of Kayes was very scenic, even dramatic with so many impressive baobab trees with their striking silhouets.
Also the area between Kayes and the Senegalese border in the west has many very impressive baobabs.
For more pictures and information have a look at my Region de Kayes page.
From Kayes we went to the north to the Mauritanian border. Sometimes the tracks we followed, led into the narrow alleyways of a village. It gave sometimes a strange feeling, that we could enter so easily the intimity of a village and the local life of its inhabitants.
The people reacted very friendly, allthough we had the feeling to disturb their daily life by crossing their village with our Dutch 4 WDs.
For more information and pictures look at the Region de Kayes page.
Ouéléssédougou is a small town on the road between Bamako and Bougouni. In the beginning of the raining season 2004, I saw this incredible cloud on the town.
I cannot tell the name of this cloud but It stragely looks like an atomic mushroom
The moments I loved most, were going shopping in the local markets and fetching water at the local wells! People there were curious to watch us - and we were just as curious to watch them!
Later I learnt, how bad the water situation in Mali is - women (or even young girls) having to walk for as much as 5 km one way to get water plus the water not being clean.
There are activities going on through Plan/Childreach trying to improve that situation by digging more large diameter wells plus introducing new pots for water storage:
"Childreach/Plan staff worked with community members to improve the design of household water storage pots. Previously the pots were a simple open-top design which meant that water could be contaminated either during storage (from flies, for example) or when being accessed (through dirty pots or hands). The pots are now sealed and water is accessed via side taps. Diarrhoeal disease rates have fallen in households with the new pot design."
(quoted from the Childreach website)
Things, that I never really thought of, when visiting Mali back then....
ACI 2000, Hamdallaye, (formerly Radisson SAS), Bamako, 2566, Mali
Good for: Couples
A large hotel built in the 1950s and renovated in the 1980s. There is a swimming pool which is among...more
Now Libyan owned and abandoned by the Sofitel hotel chain, the lobby in the late afternoon and...more
More Regions in Mali