Saga Tours of Mali — West Africa Adventure Travel
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Yangasso Tour – 17 days
Mali · Burkina Faso · Niger · Benin
Bamako to Bobo, Niamey to Ganvié
16 nights hotel; no camping
Every tour is private, scheduled on dates of your choice, beginning on a Saturday in Bamako, MALI and ending on a Monday in Cotonou, BENIN; 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.
*** Alternatively, Mali can be omitted; tour can start in Ouagadougou and end in Cotonou for a total of 10-11 days.
Day 1 Saturday: 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 Sunday: Bamako - Segou (235 km: ~3hrs)
Welcome to West Africa ! Begin your West African journey with a city tour of Bamako, Mali's vibrant capital city: over-view of this sprawling city from Point G, then on to 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. In the afternoon we will visit the artisans' village, then we will drive through the heartland of Mali to Segou. Overnight in Segou (Hotel Independance, or similar).
Day 3 Monday: Segou - Djenne (335 km; ~4½hrs)
8h00 AM departure (or earlier) for our onward drive to Djenne, ancient sister-city of Timbuktu, to arrive in time to see the large and colorful weekly market. 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.
After exploring the market, 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 4 Tuesday: Djenne - Mopti / Niger river (130 km; ~1½hr)
This morning we will visit the Djenne museum as we depart Djenne for Mopti. City tour of Mopti, called the Venice of Mali because it is surrounded by the waters of the Niger and the Bani rivers. We will see 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.). At day's end we will enjoy a tranquil sunset sail on the Niger River in a traditional pirogue (river boat). Overnight in Mopti (Hotel Kanaga, or similar).
Day 5 Wednesday: Mopti - Dogon country (120 km; ~2hrs)
This morning we will depart Mopti for Mali's fascinating 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.
We will drive to and visit Songo village, renowned for its rock paintings and circumcision grotto; traditional circumcision ceremonies are held here every three years; the rock paintings are historical representations of noble Dogon families. And onward to the edge of the escaprment. We will enjoy a walking tour of Sangha, a large agglomeration of 10 distinct Dogon villages–some animist, some Islamic; we will see some beautiful examples of the unique Dogon architecture and fetishes. Overnight in Sangha (Hotel Campement Guina, or similar).
Day 6 Thursday: Dogon country
7h00 AM breakfast, then we descend the escarpment, and visit several of the cliff villages: Banani (note the ancient Tellem cave dwellings in the cliff face), Ireli, Amani (visit the sanctuary of sacred crocodiles, totem animal of the Dogon people); and Tireli village, where we may (optionally) witness a fascinating traditional Dogon mask dance—this is an authentic reproduction of a traditional funerary rite, where the masks ask the spirit of the deceased person to depart the village, and rejoin the ancestors. In the late afternoon, we drive to Bandiagara for overnight (Hotel Falaise, or similar).
Day 7 Friday: Dogon country - Bobo Dioulasso, BURKINA FASO (560 km; ~7½hrs)
Breakfast, then 8h00 AM departure from Dogon country, on our way to Burkina Faso. We cross the border and continue to Bobo Dioulasso for overnight (Hotel Auberge, or similar).
Day 8 Saturday: Bobo Dioulasso / Banfora (one-way 85 km; ~1½hr)
Today we visit Bobo Dioulasso, the "house of the Bobo merchants" in the local language; this is Burkina Faso's second largest city. We will see the old mosque, and visit the Houet Museum, which has an interesting clothing exhibit, including war tunics worn by the army of Samory Toure in his seige against Sikasso in the 19th century; there are also replicas of traditional Bobo and Fulani homes in the museum courtyard. We will visit the old Kibidwe artisans' district where we will see traditional blacksmiths, potters, and dyers at work. In the afternoon, we take an excursion to Banfora and Lac Tengrela, to see the hippos. Return to Bobo Dioulasso for overnight (Hotel Auberge, or similar).
Day 9 Sunday: Bobo Dioulasso - Ouagadougou (355 km; ~4½hrs)
Onward drive Ouagadougou; we will check into our hotel, then explore Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso's capital city. We will visit the Grand Market and the National Museum, with its interesting collection of regional clothing, masks, household utensils and ancestral statues; then the crafts markets at the Artisans' Center, where we will find basketry, batik fabrics, wooden statues and masks, jewelry, leatherwork and bronze castings. We will also visit the Music Museum if it has reopened (closed for renovations). Overnight in Ouagadougou (Hotel Silmande, or similar).
Day 10 Monday: Ouagadougou - Niamey, NIGER (500 km; ~6½hrs)
After breakfast, we will depart Burkina Faso for Niger—observe the Sahelian countryside and rural villages as we drive northeastward. We cross the border and continue to Niamey for overnight (Grand Hotel, or similar).
Day 11 Tuesday: Niamey
NB: due to security concerns we do not go into the desert.
Today we will have a city tour of Niamey, including the National Museum and exhibits of dinosaur skeletons, as well as the infamous Arbre de Ténéré, the large city market, and the artisans' village Wadata. We will visit the Grand Mosque with its massive minaret and tiled dome. In the afternoon we take an excursion to Koure to see one the last remaining herds of giraffes in West Africa. Return to Niamey for overnight (Grand Hotel, or similar).
Day 12 Wednesday: Niamey - Parakou, BENIN (620 km; ~8½hrs)
We will depart the Sahel today, on our way to the greener tropics; see the countryside change as we cross into Benin and continue south, for overnight in Parakou (Hotel Majestic, or similar).
Day 13 Thursday: Parakou - Abomey (300 km; ~4hrs)
Morning at leisure to explore Parakou, then we continue onward to Abomey, city of Benin's Danhomey kings. We can begin our city tour of Abomey (see below), as time permits; overnight in Abomey (Motel d'Abomey, or similar).
Day 14 Friday: Abomey
Today we have a full day to explore Abomey, former capital of the Danhomey kingdom; we will visit the Royal Palace and Museum, site of the the ancient palaces of the twelve kings of Abomey (Unesco World Heritage site), who reigned from 1620 through 1900. We will visit the artisans' center, renowned for traditional tapestries and bronze castings, formerly reserved for the royal court only. In the afternoon, we can explore the Dahomey Trail with its unrestored palaces and fetish temples. Overnight in Abomey (Motel d'Abomey, or similar).
Day 15 Saturday: Abomey - Ouidah (120 km; ~1½hr)
Onward drive to Ouidah, the vodou capital of West Africa, and an important traditional religious center and ancient slave depot, which sent thousands of slaves to the new world. We will visit the Museum in the old Portuguese fort, the Temple of Pythons, the Cathedral of Notre Dame and the Kpasse sacred forest; trace the route of the famous "Slave Road" which leads to the slavery memorial of Zoungbodji. Overnight in Ouidah (Hotel DK, or similar).
Day 16 Sunday: Ouidah - Cotonou (40 km; ~¾hr)
Drive to Cotonou, capital city of Benin. We will have a city tour of Cotonou, including the fish market and the international Dantokpa market, with its fetish section and handcraft center. We will visit the local Missebo market, which has a huge selection of colorful African fabrics; we will also visit artisans at work in the Handicraft Promotion Center. Overnight in Cotonou (Hotel du Lac, or similar).
Day 17 Monday: Cotonou / final departure (110 km; ~1½hr)
This morning we will take a short drive to Abomey-Calavi for a private pirogue excursion to Ganvie village, built on stilts over the lagoon waters of Lake Nokoue. This village was created in the 18th century by the Tofinu people, to escape the slave-raids of their neighbors; women sell fish, fruits and vegetables from their canoes, and fish-farming is practiced within enclosures of trees and branches that surround the village. We will return to Cotonou and have the remainder of day at leisure, for last-minute shopping, or just relax at your hotel before you onward flight. Evening transfer to the airport.
1 km ~ 0.6 mile; distances are approximate
Driving times are approximate, depending on local conditions, stops, and border crossings
NB: Hotels subject to availability; see
proposed hotels description.
The tour with these hotels is our default "Better" standard (3-4* hotels where available).
Upgrade to "Best" standard (4-5* hotels where available) is also possible.
NB: in rural areas there is little choice of accommodations, and we utilize the same "best available" hotels for all tour standards.
Tour package includes:
- 16 nights hotel, double occupancy, with breakfast
- day-room in Cotonou on the final day
- private ground transportation by air-conditioned 4x4 vehicle, with driver and fuel
- sunset sail on the Niger River by private river boat
- optional excursion to Koure in Niger, to see giraffes
- pirogue excursion to Ganvie village in Benin
- experienced English-speaking guide throughout
- airport transfers upon arrival in Bamako and departure in Cotonou
- all hotel taxes and local tourism taxes
- all site visit, excursion and entry fees as per tour program
Tour package does not include: international flights to Bamako, MALI and onward from Cotonou, BENIN; tourism visas (Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger, Benin); lunches, dinners, drinks/bottled water; optional Dogon mask dance; tips and personal expenses.
Optional traditional Dogon mask dance in a village — upon request
Hotel upgrades in the capital cities are available, 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.
Before reserving, please see our Terms and Conditions.