Come explore in a place where something new awaits you every day
Check out the capital city. If you like your markets colourful, clamorous and spilling into the surrounding streets, appreciate energy that illuminates the night and hanker for the opportunity to befriend open and friendly locals, Bamako might just be the place.
Timbuktu, that most rhythmical of African names, has for centuries been synonymous with Africa’s mysterious inaccessibility, with an end-of-the-earth allure that some travellers just have to reach.
Gao, the former capital of the Songhaï Empire, is one of the most important towns of Mali’s illustrious past. Like Timbuktu, however, Gao can feel like the end of the earth, a cluster of nomadic settlements pushed onto the Niger River’s shores by the Sahara Desert that dominates to the north. Expeditions into the desert are a highlight of a visit here, as is the lively port.
One of the premier sites in West Africa, World Heritage–listed Djenné, which sits on an island in the Bani River, is worth as much time as you can give it. Its incomparable mosque – the largest mud-built structure in the world – is like a fairytale apparition.
Niger River Route
For most visitors, a journey through Mali means following the course of the great Niger River as it winds its way through the southern skirt of the Sahara. You can go mostly by road, or sometimes by boat on the river itself, branching off at key points to see such wonders as the Dogon Country.
The 150-kilometer-long sandstone escarpment has served as home to the Dogon people, believed to be one of the oldest surviving African cultures.