If you only visit one country in West Africa, make it Mali.
Situated in the heart of West Africa, Mali has an ancient, rich culture and a welcoming, proud population. It has a huge cultural diversity with many ethnic groups including Bambara, Fulani, Touareg, Bozo, Malinké, Dogon, and Bobo all making their own unique contribution.
The proud Touareg, the nomadic desert people, known for their salt and trade caravans and their characteristic blue turbans; the Fulani herdsmen, who still lead a partly nomadic life; the Bozo fishermen in their wooden boats on the rivers and their simple settlements on the river banks; the Dogon, who have kept their cultural heritage and have made themselves a living in one of the most special areas of the country. Mali’s people are a colorful mix.
Once a prosperous kingdom, Mali used to be a font of inspiration for explorers and fortune seekers, attracted by gold and the legendary city of Timbuktu. But, over the years, wars and colonization brought change and nowadays Mali belongs to the countries with the lowest income per capita in the world.
Mali is bordered by Mauritania, Algeria, Niger, Burkina Faso, Ivory Coast, Guinie and Senegal. The north of Mali is mainly desert with sand dunes, mountain ranges and dried up river-beds, baobabs and acacias dominate the scenery on the open savannah between Ségou and Mopti and the south is mainly fertile agricultural land.
Mali is known as the jewel in the crown of West Africa; it is culturally and historically rich, but economically poor. You will be warmly welcomed, but comfort and sanitary facilities do not always meet western standards, running water and electricity may not always be available and unforeseen circumstances may lead to necessary alterations of the itinerary
There is a rich music culture in Mali and its music festivals (the Festival au Désert and the Festival sur le Niger) are known worldwide - and many of its musicians are international performers.
Visiting Mali is best described overall as a soft adventure, with the essential comforts, but it is not luxury travel. Sleep under the starry heaven in Dogon Country, take a trip in a wooden boat on the Niger River, visit a local festival.
Traveling in Mali demands an open and flexible attitude and rewards you with an abundance of unique and exciting experiences.