Despite an unfortunate, ongoing conflict that has sealed some of the most astonishing sites in the country from regular tourists, Mali is still out there, Malians carry on with their lives and, with a bit of planning, some of their human-made wonders can be visited without any complication.
From unspoiled villages to breathtaking man-made monuments and extraordinary landscapes, Mali might be the sub-Saharan African country with the biggest touristic potential, the highlight of our expedition being Djenné, today a raw, untouched city home to the largest mud building in the world, a jaw-dropping mosque that left me absolutely moved.
This is one of the most unique expeditions we have offered up-to-date.
October 27th to November 3rd, 2023
Lead by Oriol López
Note that reserve the right to modify this itinerary based on the security situation.
Day 1 – Arrival in Bamako
Day 2 – Full day in Bamako
Day 3 – Siby area
Day 4 – Ségou
Day 5 – Ségou & San
Day 6 – Mopti
Day 7 – Djenné and back to Bamako
Day 8 – Departure
Day 1 is the arrival day in the capital of Mali, a day which we will spend picking you up from the airport, as well as welcoming you, checking into the hotel, and having a few beers.
In the evening, we will all have a welcoming dinner, so we can start to know each other, while we talk about the upcoming adventure.
Overnight in Bamako.
I like Bamako because it is as vibrant as chaotic, and home to kind-hearted Malians who will use any excuse to play some music and dance along the bustling streets.
Being a relatively new city compared to all the historical sites found in Mali, Bamako lacks architectural gems as such but, from a cultural point of view, you will definitely love getting lost in the market lanes, checking out the vegetable gardens along the Niger River, or just strolling down the streets while dodging the endless scooters.
In Bamako, we will visit the medicinal market, the artisan market, the grand mosque, and the sand collectors.
In the evening, we will look for a place with Malian music.
Overnight in Bamako.
Siby is an area 50km south of Bamako that belongs to the Manding Mountains, a highland area from southern Mali that stretches all the way to Guinea Conakry, and home to the Malinke people, one of the main ethnic groups in West Africa.
The area around Siby is a pretty scenic area for trekking, with vertiginous cliffs and peculiar rock formations like the arch of Kamadjan.
We will explore some of its natural wonders, as well as unspoiled villages barely visited by travelers.
Overnight in Siby.
Early morning, we will head for Ségou, a laid-back town with a particularly chilled-out atmosphere, sitting on the shores of the Niger River, and a real highlight of this trip.
On our arrival, we will have our main meal, check out the local market, and then we will take a boat to sail across the Niger River.
I remember there was a pretty cool bar by the river in Ségou so that we can finish our day there.
Overnight in Ségou.
Ségou is sort of a cultural and handicraft hub in Mali, with so many things to visit and experience.
First, we will visit a textile workshop, where they make creative local fabrics. We will also pay a visit to a village where they make instruments and recipients out of pumpkins, as well as a millet beer factory.
We will also visit the village of Dougabougou to witness what’s rural life like in this part of Mali, as well as check out a mud mosque, a mini version of Djenné’s.
After a hearty meal, we will head for San, a small Malian city located around 3 hours from Ségou, and home to one of the most famous mud mosques in the country, after those in Djenné and Timbuktu.
Overnight in San.
Early morning, we will head for Mopti, a commercial hub in north Mali home to the most important harbor in the country, which flourished after both Timbuktu entered into decadence.
The harbor is ideal for those interested in street photography and people-watching. As a commercial hub, Mopti is also a melting pot of people from northern Mali, from Fulani to Dogon and also Touaregs.
There’s a great mud mosque too, perhaps even better than the one in San.
Overnight in Mopti.
Very early in the morning, we will drive to Djenné.
Once an important commercial center that competed directly with Timbuktu along the trans-Saharan route, Djenné was also considered to be one of the most cosmopolitan towns in all of Africa but, unlike Timbuktu, Djenné went into decline much quicker, in the 16th century, and what used to be one of the most important centers for Islamic scholarship, is today nothing more than an agricultural, rural town.
Nonetheless, Djenné is absolutely photogenic, since the well-preserved town is entirely built of mud, typically a mix of sand, water and cow dung, making it very pleasant to your eyes.
In Djenné, we will visit the mosque, as well as Quranic schools and of course, we will get lost among its lanes.
After lunch, we will head for Bamako.
Overnight in Bamako.
On the last day, we will take care of your airport transfer.
7 nights of accommodation (twin shared) in hotels mentioned in FAQ
Private transportation and driver around Mali
Breakfast and lunch
English-speaking knowledgeable Malian guide
Entrance fees to the places listed in the itinerary
International flights to Bamako
Alcoholic drinks or any extra drink
Single supplement. Having your own private room costs 120€
October 27th to November 3rd, 2023
Lead byOriol López
These are the hotels where we always stay but note that once in a while, they might be subject to availability.
Price of the tour includes accommodation in a twin room.
If you are a solo traveler, you will be sharing the room with another like-minded traveler from the group. We always try to group people of same gender and age together but note that this won’t always be the case. Moreover, in the hypothetical case there weren’t perfect pairs, one of the rooms would be a triple room.
If you wanted to have your own single room, you will have to pay an additional €120.
Many embassies can issue you a visa but note that they all have different rules and prices.
Some embassies will issue your visa in only one day, while others take 2 or 3 days, others in just a few hours.
Prices vary too, but they tend to cost up to 70€.
Pretty much all nationalities.
Is this tour for everyone?
Yes but please understand that Mali has one of the lowest GDP per capita in the world, a country with a very poor infrastructure.
Outside of Bamako, the accommodation and restaurant options are extremely limited and miles away from Western standards.
The tour starts in Bamako, which has an international airport.
The most common connections to Bamako are via Paris (Air France), Morocco (Royal Air Maroc), Istanbul (Turkish Airlines) or Tunis (Tunis Air). Dakar is a common stopover too.
Some areas in Mali can be dangerous but the riskiest areas are concentrated north of Mopti and in the Dogon country, and we are not going anywhere near there.
Regarding Djenné, we will visit it on a day trip, just to be safer.
12-13 people maximum.
In order to secure your spot on the tour, we require a €500 deposit.
Then, the remaining amount should be sent no later than 45 days before the departure date.
Methods of payment will be shared upon booking your spot.
Either you are joining one of our trips, or you are traveling by yourself, you might want to look for proper travel insurance. Against the Compass has been a partner with IATI for several years already, recommending it to all readers, as well as covering all Joan Torres’ personal trips.
We like it because It covers all the countries where the FCDO advises against all travel, it offers budget plans and covers all sorts of adventure activities.
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