Safety Tips in Mali

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  • ZeekLTK's Profile Photo

    Be careful taking pictures

    by ZeekLTK Updated Jan 20, 2011

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    In Mali, especially Bamako, it is a big "no-no" to take pictures of "important" buildings such as military complexes or government buildings, including the presidential palace.

    Basically, if you see guys in uniforms standing guard outside, do not point your camera at them! If they see you try to take a picture of them or their building, they will confront you and possibly try to confiscate your camera unless you can prove that you didn't actually take a picture. It's best to just keep the camera out of sight when around these places.

    On one of my first days in the country, we were in a van driving around Bamako when we went by the presidential palace. I stuck my camera out the window and snapped a quick picture as we passed. The guards blew their whistle and pulled us over. I had a digital camera, so I quickly deleted the photo I had just taken. They asked me to step out of the van and had me show them all of the pictures on my camera. I told them that I had not actually taken one and we scrolled through all of my photos to "make sure". Once they were satisfied that I did not have a photo of their building they let us go on.

    One of the other passengers in our van took a picture of me showing them my photos. I guess they didn't notice her. :)

    Guard checking my camera for pictures
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    LOCALS AND MEDECINES

    by Elisabcn Updated Apr 15, 2009

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    While our excursion to the Dogon country it happened many times that people came to us showing their wounds assuming that we could heal them. Be wise and don’t start giving your medicines just because you see them injured. I assisted to two people and even if I have worked in first aid for several years the only think that I could do is to clean well their wounds using bottled water and sterile lints and suggest them to go to the nearest hospital because the wounds were too infected. And please, don’t work without gloves!!!!

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    TUMBOUCTOU

    by Elisabcn Updated Apr 15, 2009

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    I did not like people in Tombouctou because they asked me for money for everything!! Everywhere i went i had to pay something!!
    Touaregs were very persistent too: they wanted to sell me anything even if I never showed any kind of interest for their gifts!!!
    There is one new trap in Tombouctou that my guide did not know (yet): they ask tourists to go to the police office just to check their passports and there they inform them about an "non-existing tax" to be payed for staying in Tumbouctou . . . At the end there was a long line and we promised them to come back later. . . :-)

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    VISA PROCEDURES

    by Elisabcn Updated Apr 15, 2009

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    Europeans can get their tourist visa directly in Mali. If you arrive to Mali by plane the first thing you have to do at the airport is your tourist visa. Europeans only need:
    -passport (6 months validity)
    -1-2 passport size pictures
    -about 15euros
    -some patience (people in Mali do things veeery slooooowly...)

    This visa IS ONLY FOR 5 DAYS so remember to renew it, otherwise you'll have problems when leaving the country!. There are some offices in the main cities where you can do it, just ask. To renew your visa you need to show your passport with your first visa, other 1-2 pictures and about 25 euros (more). This time your visa will be for one month

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    Bargain for your guide in Dogon Country

    by atufft Written Aug 11, 2005

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    We found guides from Segue, Djenne, and Mopti all claiming to be native Dogon guides "wanting to go home", but in reality, the prices and reliability only gets good when you get to the immediate area. The hotel can provide good service, but so can others in the know. Bargain carefully. The guides will tend to rush you past major stops without concern for your interest in them. Once you are actually in Dogon country itself however, the guide may claim he doesn't have the money to pay for your encampment, and since you are now a long way from nowhere, you have the choice of arguing, paying, or leaving the guide behind, all of which are expensive. The good side is that the most you'll likely lose is a hundred or so dollars. The con games here aren't like elsewhere.

    Dogon Porters
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    Human sacrifices

    by Alpha_Ghana Written May 28, 2005

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    In Mali, some people still proceed to human sacrifice. The country is supposed to be muslim, but many people still mix Islam and ancestral beliefs.
    Don't be alone in the Bobo regions (between Segou and Mopti for instance), if you hear the drums (tam-tam), they might look after you. Do you think it is a joke? Do you think it does not happen in the 21st century?
    In 2005, the old "wises" of the village of Mahou (close to the border with Burkina Faso, coming from Koutiala) were convinced in court of human sacrifice. The best people to please their gods: people with clear skins like Albinos and Caucasians.

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    Result of dust and a hole in the bottom of the car

    by co48 Updated May 24, 2005

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    The unpaved road from the Senegalese border to Kayes was very dusty. It was the worst part of our trip, during our transahara trip from the Gambia to Morocco !

    The heavy traffic at the road caused so much dust, that at the end of the day in Kayes I came out of the car with totally red clothes, a red skin and red-coloured hairs more than my fellow travellers. Even my nose and throat was full of red dust !

    What was the case....I was sitting at the seat in the car just above a big hole in its bottom.

    arrival in Kayes
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    Pollution

    by zrim Written Jan 11, 2005

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    In the capital city of Bamako the pollution is down right horrific. It is not much of an exageration to state that it is possible to cut the fumes with a knife. Much of the problem comes from substandard vehicles and no emissions standards. But fires and blowing dust from the Saharra also contribute to the poor air quality.

    afternoon skies in Bamako
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    Hawkers

    by zrim Updated Dec 16, 2004

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    Everything is for sale in Mali and always at a small small price--at least according to the hawkers whose only goal is to separate the traveler from his or her cash.

    At the end of a hike to the remotest Dogon village, you can be sure to encounter a merchant peddling his wares and for you, he is willing to give his best best price.

    "No thank you, I don't want any of your crap" the weary traveler insists. "No problem, just look, no obligation" the hawker responds. "For you, it is cheap cheap."

    And so on, and so on, and so on. Everywhere you go, products you don't want will be offered.

    stuff for sale in a Dogon village
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    The Heat

    by zrim Updated Dec 16, 2004

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    Even in the cool season Mali is extremely hot and dry (into the 90s F and 30s C in December). In some places shade is a precious commodity. Forget about cloud cover--we didn't see more than two or three wispy clouds in two weeks.

    Take a hat to keep the sun off your head. And always have plenty of water at hand. It is literally impossible to drink too much water. There were days that I went through two liters of water and several beers and did not ever have to find a W.C. to relieve myself. Dehydration is a distinct possibility for anyone who is not careful and I suspect that dehydration is particularly unfun in a place like Mali where medical facilities are few and far between.

    another sunny day in the Dogon country
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    Poverty

    by zrim Written Dec 16, 2004

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    Mali is poor. I mean extremely poor. In 2004 it ranked as the 174th out of 177 countries in the United Nations Human Development Index (HDI). Just ahead of Burkina Fasso, Niger and Sierra Leone. And well behind such troubled countries as Haiti, Chad, Sudan and Rwanda.

    The Human Development Index uses data on life expectancy, education and standard of living for its composite index.

    In 2002 life expectancy at birth in Mali was estimated at 48.5 years. Only 19% of adults were literate. Almost 75% of the population existed on less than $1 per day of income.

    These are some more of the chilling facts: There is a twelve percent infant mortality rate; While another ten percent do not survive to the age of five; Thirty percent of the population does not have access to water from wells meaning they subsist on contaminated surface waters; And there is only one physician per 25,000 residents.

    Yet, the people seem happy and mostly content.

    the families are generally large
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    Garbage

    by zrim Written Dec 16, 2004

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    One aspect of Mali was particularly difficult for me to get past--the strewn garbage in almost every neighborhood. I realize that there is undoubtably a severe shortage of landfills and very little organized garbage pickup. But to see the landscape given over to trash piles is disheartening. The average African seems very meticulous and fastidious when it comes to dress and grooming, yet thinks nothing of wading through the trash heaps that abut his or her home.

    typical clutter on an average street
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    Most Likely You Will Get Sick

    by zrim Written Dec 16, 2004

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    Let's face the facts here: if you are used to a comfortable life in America, Europe or Australia and then travel for any extended time in an underdeveloped place like Mali-- sickness of some nature is almost a given.

    I was as careful as I could possibly be. I did not eat raw vegetables or salads. I checked to make sure that the meats were cooked through. I ate plenty of bread. Drank only bottled water. And ate only fruits that come with a protective shell--like watermelon or citrus. But eight days in, I became very ill with some sort of food poisoning. For the next 96 hours my food intake consisted of a total of five pieces of bread. I was continually on the verge of dehydration because I could not drink enough water to compensate for that which was being lost on the other end. Quite a miserable time when combined with the blaring sun and heat in the Dogon country. But I knew going in that such an illness was probable and I did not sit around feeling sorry for myself. I continued with the explorations of the Dogon culture and made the best of it.

    Pack pepto bismal, imodium and cipro. If you are lucky your bowels will clear in a day or two (like Becky). If you have worse luck (like me) you will at least want the imodium so that you can venture more than twenty feet from your bathroom.

    this mask symbolizes illness for the Dogon people
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  • british consul

    by sociolingo Written Aug 31, 2004

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    The British Embassy in Bamako closed on 31 May 2003. There is a new British Embassy Liaison Office (BELO) in Bamako offering consular and commercial advice and assistance. For passport and visa services, applications should be made to the British Embassy in Dakar. Forms are available from the BELO, which is located in the Canadian Embassy.

    You should register at the British Embassy Liaison Office in Bamako.

    Bureau De Liaison de l'Ambassade de Grande Bretagne
    Enceinte de l'Ambassade du Canada
    Route de Koulikoro
    Hippodrome
    BP 2069
    Bamako
    MALI

    Telephone: 00 223 277 46 37
    00 223 674 90 77 / 674 82 08 Mobiles


    Facsimile: 00 223 221 83 77

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  • Health warning

    by sociolingo Written Aug 31, 2004

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    There has been an outbreak of cholera in Segou district, central Mali. You should be aware and take precautions. Two cases of polio have been reported in Mali since May.

    Medical facilities outside of Bamako are limited. Make sure all appropriate vaccinations are up to date. Take prophylaxis against Malaria.

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Mali Hotels

See all 15 Hotels in Mali
  • Radisson Blu Hotel, Bamako

    ACI 2000, Hamdallaye, (formerly Radisson SAS), Bamako, 2566, Mali

    Satisfaction: Excellent

    Good for: Couples

    Hotel Class 4 out of 5 stars

  • Hotel Mirabeau

    Quartier du fleuve - rue 311, Bamako, BP E 3506, Mali

    Satisfaction: Excellent

    Good for: Couples

  • Laico l'Amitie Hotel

    Now Libyan owned and abandoned by the Sofitel hotel chain, the lobby in the late afternoon and...

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