World Journeys Countries

Mali is a landlocked west African country, famed for the legendary trading and learning centre of Timbuktu.  The Niger River provides life along its banks and unique sights include the mud-built Djenne mosque and the remote Dogon region with its cliff-side villages and traditional life.  The true traveller will delight in authentic experiences in this ancient land.

Dogon Country
A designated UNESCO World Heritage Site for both its natural beauty and cultural significance. Its amazing landscapes, fascinating culture and welcoming people make it the jewel of West Africa.

Djenne
Located on an isle in the River Bani, the town is nicknamed the Capital of Mud, due to its mud-culture, which has Djenne listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site. See the mud-built structures and the Great Mosque, the world’s largest mud-built structure.

Niger River
Enjoy the tranquility of the river as loaded pinasses (river boats) arrive from and depart to the northern regions of the country. Wonder  colourful markets and authentic villages along the river banks.

Mopti
Known as the Venice of Mali for its location at the meeting point of the River Bani and the River Niger.

Timbuktu
Synonymous with the ends of the earth, this West African city is located on the Sahara and was a center of religion and scholarship for centuries.

 

Some of the best months for travelling are from October to February, but it is still hot. The wet season (June to October) can offer cooler temperatures, and travelling in July avoids the heaviest rains of August.

Mali is a vast land of deserts and rolling plains, cut across by the lifeline that is the Niger River.  My travels there were full of long days on dusty roads and tranquil river journeys, interspersed with astonishingly authentic cultural experiences.  I encountered the Fulani tribespeople, the men tall and adorned with paint and beads.  The nomadic Tuareg were people of the desert, their robes and turbans providing protection from the searing heat and swirling sands.  Travelling for days along the Niger river in a traditional pirogue allowed a glimpse of daily life in the villages along its banks – women washing clothes, babies strapped to their backs, and fishermen hauling in their meagre catch.  A side trip to the cliffside villages of the Dogon country was well rewarded. I remember walking up the cliffs of the Bandiagara escarpment, a hired guide ahead of me with my highly-designed backpack expertly balanced on his head.  Timbuktu, a drawcard for the passport stamp alone, required a great deal of effort to imagine it in its hey day as a centre of learning and trade, now suffering from the slow encroachment of the desert.  But my enduring memory of this fascinating land is the strains of music drifting out over the serene Niger River, music so evocative and atmospheric that when I later caught Salif Keita at a concert in London, it transported me right back there in an instant.

Caroline Clegg, Marketing Manager

Currency West African CFA Franc

Language Although Mali has over 80 different ethnic languages, the official language is French. There are also 13 ‘national languages’ – of which Bambara is the most widely spoken.

Weather Mali has a hot, dry climate most of the year. The dry season (Nov to June) offers lower humidity and high temperatures. From Nov to Jan the alize wind offers some cool relief bringing temperatures averaging 25 degrees C, whereas from March to June the harmattan winds can raise the heat to around 40 degrees C, creating dusty whirlwinds in their wake. The wet season, from June to October, brings heavy rain and thunderstorms. Temperatures drop in August, the month with most rain.

Social customs & quirks A lot of importance is placed on greetings in Mali, including questions about both parties’ families, neighbours and acquaintances. Friends will look each other in the eyes but when speaking with elders, religious leaders or a boss, it is more polite to look down and away. Pointing at people is considered rude, whereas burping is considered a compliment to the host! As with many traditional cultures, marriage is the norm and single people will need a good excuse! Mali has a rich history of multi-culturism, with a range of belief systems including Muslim, Christian, Peulh, Maures, Bamanan and Animist. Enquiring about the history, culture and traditions of the locals you meet will always be welcomed and can result in fascinating conversations. Being punctual is not considered necessary in Mali, leading to the often quoted problem of the country running on West African International Time (W.A.I.T).

Festivals & events Mali is blessed with a dazzling array of fascinating festivals. February brings the Desert Festival in Timbuktu, featuring international musicians performing alongside talented Tuareg musicans. Also in February, Mopti is host to the Daimwari Festival with puppetry, masks, dance troupes and pirogue races. Colourful drum circle dances are the highlight of the Daoula-Ba Festival in the village of Soh each March, then April brings the famed Dogon Mask Festival. The entire population of Djenne gather each April/May to re-plaster their Mosque with mud, ending with a huge feat, dancing and drumming.

Health* There are no compulsory health requirements on entering Mali.

Notes *Please be aware that Health information is subject to change at any time and you should always double check these requirements at the time of booking and before travel.

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Mali Summer Journey
Price from$3,685 SELECT

Mali 14 Days / 13 Nights
'Explorer' range tour, for the adventurous of spirit!

Butterflies creep from their cocoons, dragonflies soar the water, the red bishop exchanges its brown feathers for a bright red and black feather coat...