Saga Tours of Mali — West Africa Adventure Travel
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Mali Sailing / Trekking Tour :
Niger River & Dogon cliffs – 12 days
plus Bamako, Segou, Mopti and Djenne
6 nights hotel, 5 nights camping
Every tour is private, scheduled on dates of your choice, beginning on a Fridan and ending on a Tuesday in Bamako; there are no fixed-date group departures.
Contact us for prices. Groups of any size are welcome. Be sure to specify the month/year of travel, and how many persons are in your partyprices are digressive, so a better value per person for a party of four than a party of two, etc.
Day 1 Friday: Arrival in Bamako, MALI
International flight arrives in Bamako in the evening; our staff will meet you in the Arrivals hall of Bamako airport, and provide your hotel transfer; overnight in Bamako (Grand Hotel, or similar).
Day 2 Saturday: Bamako - Segou (235 km; ~3hrs)
Begin your sailing/trekking tour with a brief, scenic drive to Segou, Mali's second largest city and former colonial capital. We will check into our Segou hotel and have a lunch break. In the afternoon we will visit the market and the Kasobane boutique with its high-end traditional and contemporary textile art; we will stop by the Nieleni cooperative, which makes hand-woven high-quality wool rugs; then visit another women's cooperative that makes traditional millet beer. We will end the day with stroll through the traditional pottery market on the waterfront. Overnight in Segou (Hotel Independance, or similar).
Day 3, Day 4 Sunday, Monday: Niger River
Today we begin our sailing journey down the Niger River by private river boat; our boat crew has purchased supplies, and we depart with the current. Over the next three days we will visit Bozo fishermen's villages and nomadic Fulani camps along the way; see Mali's varied bird life along the shore, and very likely see hippos in the river—do not approach, hippos are dangerous. Overnight camping on the riverbank.
with Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner x2
Day 5 Tuesday: Niger River / Mopti
This is our final day of sailing to take in the tranquil sights and sounds of the Niger River, and we arrive in Mopti at day's end. Check into our Mopti hotel for overnight (Hotel Kanaga, or similar).
with Breakfast, Lunch
Day 6 Wednesday: Mopti - Dogon Country (~100 km; ~1½hr)
Breakfast, then city tour of Mopti, the "melting pot" of Mali, also called the Venice of Mali because it is surrounded by the waters of the Niger and the Bani rivers. We will visit the Komoguel mosque, the fishing port (see pirogues being made by hand), and the bustling market where many of Mali's ethnic groups come to trade: Bambara, Bobo, Bozo, Dogon, Fulani, Tuareg and Songhay—shop for gold or silver jewelry, hand-made cotton or wool blankets, or some of Mali's beautiful wood carvings (masks, statues, etc.). In the aftermoon, onward drive to Dogon country to begin our trek. Overnight camping in a Dogon village (Dourou or other).
with Breakfast, Dinner
Day 7 Thursday: Dogon country
The Dogon tribe originated in the south of Mali, which they fled to preserve their animist religion from the spread of Islam. When they arrived at the Bandiagara cliffs, they found the Tellem people occupying grottos carved in the face of the cliff. They eventually displaced the Tellem people, and used the grottos to bury their dead—funerary rites are an important part of the Dogon culture.
Today we will trek through magnificent Dogon villages along the Bandiagara escarpment, a Unesco World Heritage site; we will see many examples of the classic traditional Dogon architecture (small stone houses and circular granaries) and contemporary fetishism; exact villages to be visited will be determined (the duration of the day's trek as well as the degree of difficulty will be tailored to your preferences/abilities). Overnight camping in a Dogon village.
with Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 8 Friday: Dogon country
Continue visiting Dogon villages along the Bandiagara escarpment; we will see ancient Tellem cave dwellings in the cliff, and there will be many opportunities to meet local villagers; overnight camping in a Dogon village.
with Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 9 Saturday: Dogon country
This is our last trekking day, and we continue to visit Dogon villages along the escarpment; we will also have the opportunity (optionally) to witness a traditional Dogon mask dance, one of the Dogon people's funerary rites. Overnight in Sangha (Hotel Campement Guina, or similar).
with Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 10 Sunday: Dogon country - Djenne (240 km; ~3½hrs)
Today we will visit a last Dogon village, Songo, renowned for its circumcision grotto with rock paintings. Circumcision ceremonies are held here every three years for all Dogon boys aged 9-14 years old; the rock paintings are historical representations of noble Dogon families.
Then we drive to Djenne, to visit this ancient sister-city of Timbuktu. Djenne was one of the first commercial centers of the Sahel region: it was the meeting place of the nomads from the Sahara, the local farmers and cattle herders, and the fishermen from the inland delta of the Niger. We will stroll the ancient alleys and narrow streets, and see the oldest house in Djenne, dating from the XIIth century; also see the magnificent Great Mosque, the world's largest mud brick architecture—originally constructed in the XIIIth century, this is one of Unesco's World Heritage sites. Overnight in Djenne (Hotel Campement, or similar).
Day 11 Monday: Djenne - Segou (335 km; ~4½hrs)
This morning we take in the sights and sounds of the large weekly market in Djenne, when villagers come from the entire region to set up their market stalls before the Great Mosque and sell their wares; this market is a keystone of the local economy. In the afternoon, we will drive to Segou for overnight (Hotel Independance, or similar).
Day 12 Tuesday: Segou - Bamako / final departure (235 km; ~3hrs)
This morning we visit Sekoro village, which was the original Segou and former capital of the Bambara kingdom. We will meet the village chief, who is a descendant of the King Biton Coulibaly. Then onward drive to Bamako. We will check into day-rooms, then have our city tour of Bamako, starting at the National Museum (see www.mnm-mali.org), with its impressive collections of textiles from the 11th to the 20th century; ancient Bamanan, Dogon and Senoufo sculptures; terracotta objects from archeological sites; and contemporary African paintings and sculptures. We will also visit the city market, the artisans' village, and the fetish market for traditional medicine. In the evening, transfer to the airport for your onward flight.
1 km ~ 0.6 mile; driving times are approximate, depending on local conditions and stops
NB: camping is no frills, sleeping on a ground mattress in a small tent; there are no campgrounds, so no running water, no latrines. Camping in Mali is not recommended for inexperienced campers.
NB: Hotels subject to availability; see
proposed hotels description.
Tour package includes:
- 6 nights hotel, double occupancy
- day-room in Bamako on the final day
- 5 nights camping; travelers should bring sleeping bags
- 23 meals as outlined above: 11 breakfasts, 6 lunches, 6 dinners (excluding drinks)
- bottled mineral water is included with meals while sailing
- private ground transportation by 4x4 vehicle, with driver and fuel
- 3-day Niger River sail to Mopti by private river boat with outboard motor, fuel and crew
- experienced English-speaking guide throughout
- local guides and porters as needed while trekking
- airport transfers upon arrival and departure in Bamako
- all hotel taxes and local tourism taxes
- all excursion, site visit and entry fees as per tour program
Tour package does not include: international airfare to/from Bamako; Mali visas; non-specified meals, drinks/bottled water; sleeping bags; optional Dogon mask dance; tips and personal expenses.
Option: traditional Dogon mask dance performed in a village — upon request
NB: Posted itineraries are subject to change, and quoted prices are accordingly subject to change; itineraries and prices are locked-in when a tour is booked.
Please note: Saga Tours does not handle international air reservations and ticketing.
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