Saga Tours of Mali — West Africa Adventure Travel
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Sirakoro Tour – 18 days
Mali · Burkina Faso · Ghana
West African journey from the edge of the Sahara Desert, to the old Slave Coast
17 nights hotel; no camping
Every tour is private, scheduled on dates of your choice, beginning on a Friday in Bamako, MALI and ending on a Monday in Accra, GHANA; 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 Accra for a total of 11-12 days.
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)
I ni ce ! 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 for overnight (Hotel Independance, or similar).
Day 3 Sunday: Segou - Mopti (405 km; ~5hrs)
Morning tour of Segou, Mali's second city: see the interesting mix of colonial and traditional architecture. We will visit the Kasobane boutique with its high-end traditional and contemporary textile art; we will visit the Nieleni cooperative, which makes hand-woven high-quality wool rugs; and we will end our visit with stroll through the traditional pottery market on the waterfront. In the afternoon we will drive to Mopti for overnight (Hotel Kanaga, or similar).
Day 4 Monday: Mopti - Djenne (one-way 130 km; ~1½hr) - Mopti / Niger River
Today we take a day-trip to Djenne on its weekly market day, when Djenne is at its colorful best. 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 explore the market, and stroll the ancient alleys and narrow streets; note 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. We return to Mopti for a relaxing sunset sail on the Niger River by private river boat. Overnight in Mopti (Hotel Kanaga, or similar).
Day 5 Tuesday: Mopti - Dogon country (120 km; ~2hrs)
This morning we have our 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.
Then, 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 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. Then onward to the edge of the escarpment. 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 Sangh (Hotel Campement Guina, or similar).
Day 6 Wednesday: 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 will drive to Bandiagara for overnight (Hotel Falaise, or similar).
Day 7 Thursday: 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 Friday: Bobo Dioulasso - Banfora (one-way 85 km; ~1½hr) - Bobo Dioulasso
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 drive to Banfora and Lac Tangrela to see the hippos. We return to Bobo Dioulasso for overnight (Hotel Auberge, or similar).
Day 9 Saturday: Bobo Dioulasso - Deux Bales Parc - Ouagadougou (355 km; ~5½hrs)
Onward to the capital city, Ouagadougou. En-route, we will visit the Deux Balés National park in the hopes of seeing elephants. This is the smallest of Burkina's national reserves, housing three large elephant herds that roam the 81,000 hectares. Then we will continue to Sabou village where we will make a brief stop to see the "tame" crocodiles—at festival times, locals make sacrifices and ask the crocodiles for health, fertility, and fortune. After years of habitual contact, the crocodiles seem to have lost their reptilian ferocity. We move onwward to Ouagadougou for overnight (Hotel Silmande, or similar).
Day 10 Sunday: Ouagadougou
Today we have a full day to explore Ouagadougou, capital city of Burkina Faso. We will visit the Moro Naba's palace and the Grand Market; we will visit the National Museum, with its interesting collection of regional clothing, masks, household utensils and ancestral statues. We will also visit the Music Museum if it is reopened (currently under renovation), and the crafts markets at the Artisans' Center, where we will find talented artisans making basketry, batik fabrics, wooden statues and masks, jewelry, leatherwork and bronze castings.
If we finish all these visit, in the afternoon we take an excursion to the Parc Urbain Bangr-Weoogo—with its crocodile lagoons, a mini-zoo, and well-tended gardens, it makes a nice respite from the city. Overnight in Ouagadougou (Hotel Silmande, or similar).
Day 11 Monday: Ouagadougou - Tiebele - Tamale, GHANA (495 km; ~7hrs)
Today we depart Burkina Faso and francophone Africa, for anglophone Ghana; en-route we will visit Tiebele village, in Gourounsi country. We will visit the Royal Court of Tiebele, and see the interesting fortress-like houses of the Kassena people. The houses are of various shapes and sizes depending on the status of the occupants, and they are beautifully decorated with geometric patterns on the walls. They are constructed of mud and feature flat roofs for sleeping in the hot weather; the houses are painted by the women, with local red, blue, white and black pigments. We resume our journey to the Ghana border, and onward to Tamale for overnight (Gariba Lodge, or similar).
Day 12 Tuesday: Tamale - Larabanga - Mole National Park (135 km; ~2½hrs)
This morning we will visit the large central market in Tamale to see the gonja cloth weavers at work, and browse through the fetish section to get a look at some 'interesting' items for sale. Then we will drive to Larabanga to see the famous mosque, which may be the oldest building in Ghana. We continue to Mole National Park for overnight (Mole Park Hotel, or similar).
Day 13 Wednesday: Mole National Park
Mole National Park is Ghana's largest wildlife sanctuary, and arguably the best for game-viewing. More than 300 bird species, and over 90 mammal species have been recorded in Mole, including elephants, buffalo, hippos, leopards and lions. We will have a day of game drives, or guided walks, in Mole Park; overnight in the park (Mole Park Hotel, or similar).
Day 14 Thursday: Mole Park - Kumasi (375 km; ~5½hrs)
This morning we have a last game drive in Mole Park and then we depart for Kumasi, in Ghana's Ashanti country; overnight in Kumasi (Hotel Georgia, or similar).
Day 15 Friday: Kumasi
City tour of Kumasi: we begin with a visit to the National Cultural Center and the Prempreh II Jubilee Museum, then the Manhyia Palace (home of the actual Asantahene), and onward to the Kejetia market, the largest market in West Africa—an unforgettable melange of colors and sounds. In the afternoon we take an excursion to Bonwire village, to see authentic kente cloth being made. Return to Kumasi for overnight (Hotel Georgia, or similar).
Day 16 Saturday: Kumasi - Kakum National Park - Elmina (240 km; ~3½hrs)
Today we drive to Kakum National Park, a rainforest preserve inhabited by some 100 different species of mammals, including forest elephants and giant forest hogs, as well as many types of antelopes, monkeys and birds. The main attraction at Kakum is the 350 meter long canopy walk, varying between 28-40 meters high—this is not recommended for the acrophobic! After the park if time permits, we can visit Monkey Forest animal sanctuary. Then we continue to Elmina for overnight (Elmina Beach Resort, or similar).
Day 17 Sunday: Elmina / Cape Coast - Accra (160 km; ~2½hrs) - Elmina
In Elmina, we begin with a walking tour of St. George's Castle, and a stroll to St. Jago Hill for a panoramic overview of historic Elmina. Then onward to Cape Coast, which was the first capital of Britain's Gold Coast colony. By the late 17th century, Cape Coast had grown from a small fishing village to one of the most important trading ports along the coast; and through the 18th century, the local economy was driven by its role as the heart of the transatlantic slave trade. We will visit the historic old town section, and the notorious Cape Coast Castle, former bastion of the Atlantic slave trade, with three large slave dungeons accessible only from the seaward side of the fort, and the Door of no Return. Cape Coast Castle is now a Unesco World Heritage site. Onward drive to Accra for overnight (Novotel Accra, or similar).
Day 18 Monday: Accra - final departure
On this our final day, we have a city tour of Accra, including the National Museum, the Cultural Centre, and the Nkrumah Mausoleum. In the afternoon we have a walking tour of James Town with its colorful local markets and colonial-era shops. In the evening, your will be transfered to the airport for final departure.
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:
- 17 nights hotel, double occupancy, with breakfast
- day-room in Accra on the final day
- private ground transportation by 4x4 vehicle, with driver and fuel
- sunset sail on the Niger River by private river boat
- experienced English-speaking guide throughout
- airport transfers upon arrival in Bamako and departure in Accra
- 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 Accra, GHANA; tourism visas (Mali, Burkina Faso, Ghana); 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.
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