I used the Tellem voyages agency for a trip I did in 1999. Very reasonable prices on a 4x4 with driver. Highly recommend the driver Amagoundo. I went back this year, just to have a chat and the agency still exists, albeit now run by the son, Amadou Dolo. His uncle is the manager of the Hotel-campement Guina in Sangha,ideal for your Dogon trekking trips. Can do the booking for you there and then, even if you have your own transport or use the public buses to get there.
Adress : Immeuble Wally Diawara
avenue de l'OUA
On the south side of the"Pont des Martyres", about 10 mins. walk from the bridge on the left side of the avenue 400 metres before the restaurant "Amandine"
Mali is served my a number of airlines...Ethiopian from Addis&Dakar, Kenyan from Dakar &Nairobi, (both airlines use Bamako as a stop on the way to Dakar) Air Senegal from Dakar, CAM is a local airline flying SAABs and DC-9s out of Bamako, Royal Air Moroc flys from Morocco? along with Air France from Paris. From what I heard RAM is a cheap option from Europe. I took Delta from JFK to Dakar and then Eithiopian to Bamako over and then Kenyan back to Dakar.
Bamako has slightly more modern airport (no jetways though) that was a bit less conjested and cleaner compared to Dakar. There is a restaurant on the upper level of the airport which is a nice place to relax prior to catching your flight...also a great place to watch planes.
Restrooms are either outside or in the arrivals hall. Customs and immigration are quick.
Keep in mind that if you arrive via Air France the flight arrives in the middle of the night.
Here is a guide/piroguier in Segou that can take you across the Niger to Kalabougou or just for a trip up or down the river. He can also organise trips to Mopti and further if needed. Across to Kalabougou for the morning or afternoon is a fixed price of 20.000 cfa for the boat, regardless of how many are in it, the rest is open to negociation. He can be found in the yellow cabin just on the right of the jetty at the end of the main street by the waterside.
Chef des Piroguiers
BP 400 Segou
If going directly to Mali from Europe, check out Point Afrique (www.pointafrique.fr). It has charter flights from Paris and Marseille to pretty much every small town in French West Africa. It is cheap and flights are operated by Air Mediterranee so it means it is safe as well.
Here on the photo above is the Mopti Airport. Don't expect X-rays. The flight schedule is written on a blackboard...
Bus station on the south side of the main road through Segou, 15 mins. walk from the centre or 3 mins on taxi/moto. TCV leaves from the same place for Bobo and Ouaga, normally at 11 a.m. Supposed to take around 6 hours but with the frontier can take up to 8 1/2 hours to Bobo, another supposed 6 hours to Ouga.
Price for Bobo is 7500 cfa.
Most of the buses to all points east of Bamako leave from the "Gare Routiere" at Sogoniko, roughly 4 kms from the Pont des Martyres. Any taxi will take you there, 2000 cfa. Bittar and Bani are the best buses. The company TCV is the one to take for Bobo Dioulasso and Ouagadougou. Take tickets at the point for Bittar.
Price example : 3000 cfa for Segou
Arriving outside Bamako airport, you will be assailed by offers of cfa. and taxis into town.
Arriving during the day taxis can be had for around 2/3000 cfa but at night this will be more than doubled. Try to negociate down to around 6000 cfa. Of course this also depends of your destination,i.e. are you going to a hotel for rich people or to the numerous missions or guesthouses. Makes a difference on the price you pay!!
Cfa can also be negociated at around 6400.00 or 6500.00 for 100 euros. (official rate is almost 6600.00 but in a bank you will pay commission anyway).
Don't get me wrong, bus travel in Mali is a great way to go. Only a river pirogue could be better. Spare the expense of the rented vehicle, take the budget bus transport and experience the lives of those who live there. You will generally be provided extra care by the drivers, but if the bus breaks down, all bets are off. After our bus from Segue to Mopt broke down, we waited two hours on the roadside for repairs to come. Then, we decided to hitch a ride with a smaller bachee style bus, which got us only as far as the next town at a stop and go pace. Then, by chance, I spotted our bus again, and we hopped back on. Unfortunately, by the time we were dropped off at the junction to Djenne it was midnight and we had hard bargaining for the most pitiful Peugot bachee I have ever seen. That 15 miles was more expensive than the whole day's adventure on the intercity bus. Overall, for those fit enough, the buses are really quite adequate, and given the predictably warm weather, a breakdown, even at night, would not be cause for great concern. To ensure our security, we stayed with other passengers who lived with this sort of inconvenience as routine, and considered by the hour what our best options for keeping with our itinerary might be. When planning an itinerary by public transport, it pays to have an extra day or so at the beginning and end of the trip to avoid the possibility of missing the return flight home.
Our route in the region north of Kayes was part of our transsahara trip. We did this trip with two 4WDs of the Dutch organisation Transsahara of Marius Dussel from Leeuwarden in the Netherlands.
The two cars of our trip were a 22-years old Toyota landcruiser and a 18-years old Mitsubishi Pajero. The age of the cars and the rough routes caused mechanical and technical problems later on in Mauritania.
But at this part of the route in Mali from Kayes to Mauritania our 22 years old Toyota Landcruiser did a good job. Without any problems it conquered all the sand and dry riverbeds. It was not necessary to use the 4WD during this part of the route, but it was a safe feeling to have a 4WD, just in case.
We could drive the cars ourselves or just participate as passenger.
I like going around in Mali on my motorbike. Sometimes it happens that I am short in petrol and am obliged to stop in a village. It is very difficult to let them understand that I need petrol for a 4 strokes engine, they don't know that a motorbike can be something else than a 2-strokes.
Anyway, my motorbike is always an attraction in the villages.
We visited Kayes by car, but many travellers in West Africa know Kayes only as town along the railway from Dakar to Bamako. They only pass through on the express between those two capitals of Senegal and Mali.
This 1200 KM long train line from Dakar to Bamako is a remnant from the colonial time. It is the longest railspan in West Africa, partially built with forced labour.
If you make a stop-over in Kayes, you can take the express from there to Senegal and Dakar. To Bamako you have the choice between the express, the autorail or weekend train.
For more information about Kayes see my Region of Kayes page.
For the truck it was not easy to cross the river. hte depth was OK, but there were some big holes under the water surface. So we had to guide the truck very precisely.
Lucky us. The truck reached the other side safely without problems. So we could continue our journey in the direction of the border with Cote d' Ivoire.
From Bamako we travelled to Cote d'Ivoire. Just for Tengrela, the Malinese border town with Cote d' Ivoire we had to cross a river.
We all had to leave the truck and we surveyed first the crossing place by feet. Some of us went into the river to check the depth of the water and the holes at the bottom.
Large camel caravans ply the desert to collect salt from the mine at Taradenni. No longer the same size as they were, up to 20 camels once covered that route. Now a lot of salt travels by more modern transport.
These camels are however, waiting to make the 40-day journey to bring back the 'white gold'.
David, a retired Chinese dentist, was a great character. Not realising what to expect, he came totally unprepared - no walking boots, no rucksack and inadequate fitness level. At one stage he hired this passing donkey to take him to camp as he was feeling rather tired of walking.
Much to our tour leader's concern, he flagged down a passing 4WD at one of the rest stops (while the tour leader was somewhere else) to take him back to the start of our trek one day early. When James, the tour leader, arrived and asked where David was, he didn't believe us when we said he'd taken a car to Sangha! How to lose one of your charges in one easy lesson!
ACI 2000, Hamdallaye, (formerly Radisson SAS), Bamako, 2566, Mali
Good for: Couples
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