Trip Start Sep 13, 2006
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Mali  ,
Thursday, January 18, 2007

After 3 days of hard travelling I arrived in Bamako the capital of Mali, on the banks of the river Niger. (Population 1 million)

Louis and Julie a couple of friends I had the pleasure of crossing the Morocco-Mauritania border with, had been filming a documentary on ecotourism and were based here. So after a couple nights sleeping at the excellent Catholic mission I moved in with Julie and Louis into their apartment.

I eventually spent seven nights sleeping in their lounge. During the day either I was on the Internet or sleeping. At night we'd all go out to drink large quantities of beer at one of the two Chinese run bars. Here we'd meet up with other French Expats and talk away the night. A lot of French come to Mali either with an opportunity to work with a NGO, or else are attracted by the most excellent music and musicians. However it's rare that a European decides to make Mali their home. Those that do, rarely out last the first 2-3 years. The country beats to an alien rhythm that can frustrate, and it took some time before I found a quirky but compatible step.

Traditional food here consists of a lot of cereals like rice, millet and pasta with a sauce for a bit of taste. In bigger towns like Bamako there are supermarkets which cater for French cuisine. So although expensive we made a pilgrimage to a couple and splashed out on wine and cheese, then ate like kings.

In Mali the sun dominates and on the way to Bamako I passed through Kayes , officially the hottest town on the planet. The heat seems to get into everything and it makes sense to sleep through the hottest hours of the day. I also met more sick tourists here from diarrea and other travel illnesses then anywhere else I've been? The wind comes down from the Sahara in the north and blows up clouds of dust that seems to stick in your throat and lungs, producing a dry cough.

Having well rested, I said goodbye to Louis and Julie and took a bus direction north east deeper into the country, stopping at various towns along the way. The town of Djennée had plenty of touts and would be guides but boasted the world's largest mud building which was very cool. After a week of slow travel I arrived in Bandigara, the capital of Dogon country.
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