Mali & Burkina Faso
January 30 to February 14, 2020
Mali, a landlocked country is bisected by the Niger River, one of the great rivers of the world. It marks an approximate boundary between the Sahara Desert and the Sahel. Mali means "hippo" in one of the local languages and they can sometimes be seen during the dry season. Head to Timbuktu the city of legend that truly exists on the fringes of the Sahara Desert. Visit its ancient mosque as well as the Grand Mosque in Djenne, the largest mud-brick building in the world. Both are UNESCO World Heritage sites. Stroll through the weekly markets in Djenne and Mopti, known to attract thousands of people from Mali’s many tribes. Spend time in Dogon country, home to one of the most fascinating tribes in Africa. End your tour of Mali at the River Niger Festival, a celebration of music, dancing and culture.
Burkina Fasomay not have many big-ticket attractions, but the warmth of its welcome and the friendliness of the Burkinabé people is unique. Wherever you go you'll be greeted with a memorable bonne arrivée ('welcome') and a handshake. There's also the lively cultural scene. The capital, Ouagadougou, and Bobo-Dioulasso, Burkina's two largest and gloriously named cities, are famous for their musical traditions and beautiful handicrafts.
Per person sharing in double occupancy (Land Only): $8,995.00
Single Supplement: $795.00
Mali Only Land cost: $5,995.00 per person sharing in double occupancy
Mali Only Single Supplement:$400.00
Led by lecturer/guide Mr. Mohamed Halouani
Price based on a group size minimum of 8 and maximum of 15 participants
Your tour does not include
Airline ticket from USA to Bamako/back from Ouagadougou (approx. $1,200.00 based on Air France from NYC)
All Visa expenses (Approx. $400.00 for both)
Additional fee for charter flight if number drops below 8 passengers.
Vaccinations, yellow fever immunization, anti-malaria prophylaxis (all highly recommended).
Trip surcharge to operate below required minimum participants.
Items of a personal nature: beverages, laundry, phone calls, email, souvenirs, etc.
Hotel accommodations necessitated by changes in air schedules or misconnections.
Travel protection insurance (highly recommended).
Your tour includes
Accommodation at hotels mentioned or similar.
Meals as mentioned in the itinerary (B: breakfast, L: lunch and D: dinner).
Transportation in a mini-bus bus with A/C.
All visits to sites, villages, monuments and museums.
English speaking guide and local guides at the various villages.
Gratuities to guide, drivers, hotel & restaurant staff and porters.
Mask dance in Dogon country.
Charter plane to Timbuktu (with MIN 8 travelers).
II Active – Some hikes, slightly more demanding walks at or to sites, few elevations, comfortable but busy schedule and some long rides.
*** Superior: Lodges and hotels with additional amenities, refined service and comfort level acceptable to western standards. (3 or 4 stars)
Important Trip Notes: This tour requires a flexible spirit and a sense of adventure as you will drive some big distances, on roads that are dusty, bumpy, with bathroom facilities in the wild or in very poorly maintained state. The charter flight in/out of Timbuktu is the ONLY way to get there but we cannot guarantee any changes to their operation/schedule. You must treat this tour as an exploratory trip since we have not sent tours there since 2011. If the flight cancels, we will do the trip from Bamako to Mopti by land (& skip Timbuktu with a refund of $1500 to each participant). Also the itinerary sequence may change as the Festival dates can alter up or down a day or 2.
View Tour Itinerary
Thursday, Jan 30
USA to Bamako (Mali)
Depart the US arriving Bamako the next day.
Friday, Jan 31
Arrive in Bamako (Mali)
Arrive in Bamako where our staff will be ready to greet you and assist with the transfer to your pre-booked hotel for check-in and dinner. (D) Note: Standard check-in time at the hotel is 3:00 pm. Dinner will be provided if arrival is prior to 8:00 pm.
Saturday, Feb 01
In the morning, visit the National Museum of Mali where you will see musical instruments, costumes, and ritual items from Mali's ethnic groups. Afterwards, you'll have the choice of visiting the handicraft and recycling markets, seeing some city monuments, and going to the top of the Hill of Health for a view over the city, OR driving to the Mandé village of Siby to visit the historical Fanfamba Caves, the former meeting places of the village elders, and the Arch of Kamandjan. This solid, sedimentary rock in the shape of an arch, has been sculpted over thousands of years by rainfall and winds. There is also the colorful weekly market of Siby where all the neighboring villagers come to buy and sell their goods. Return to Bamako for dinner and overnight. (B,L,D)
Sunday, Feb 02
Bamako - Timbuktu – Mopti
After an early breakfast at the hotel, transfer to airport for a three-hour charter flight to Timbuktu. On arrival, take a city tour incuding: the three mosques - Djingueray Ber, the largest of the mosques in Timbuktu, Sankore to see its impressive minaret, and Sidi Yahiya, the smallest, but equally as beautiful; the Ethnological Museum that includes displays from Mali's ethnic groups; the Ahmed Baba Center, a library and research center containing around 20,000 manuscripts of Mali's history that date back to the 14th century; and the market and artisan center. After lunch at a hotel, transfer to airport for your one-hour charter flight to Mopti. On arrival, you will be transferred to Hotel Kanaga, the best hotel in Mopti. Time permitting, enjoy a sunset cruise on the Bani and Niger Rivers. Dinner and overnight at the hotel. (B,L,D)
Monday, Feb 03
Mopti – Djenne – Bandiagara
Today you will make your way to Djenne, a town known for its Sudanese-style adobe architecture. Here you'll visit the Monday Market, the Great Mosque, the largest mud structure in the world, and some of the nearby Koranic Schools. Afterwards, drive to Bandiagara (203 miles), a small town that is home to Dogon, Fulani, and Bambara ethnic groups. Time permitting, stop at Songho, a Dogon village known for its circumcision cave and rock paintings. Arrive at Bandiagara for dinner and overnight at Hotel La Falaise or similar. (B,L,D)
Tuesday, Feb 04
Bandiagara – Dogon Country - Bandiagara
In the morning, your 4-WD vehicle (3 per vehicle) will take you out to fascinating Dogon Country (55 miles). At Sangha, visit the fetish houses, the ancestral house La Guinna, the women's house, the blacksmith workshop, the granaries, and the Toguna, a public building located in the center of the village. After lunch at Hotel Guinna, enjoy a performance of the mask dance. Return to Bandiagara for dinner and overnight at Hotel La Falaise or similar. (B,L,D)
Wednesday, Feb 05
Bandiagara - Segou
Today you'll drive to Segou (277 miles) in time for the opening of the Festival sur le Niger. The festival features dance performances and art exhibitions from renown African artists. En-route visit Terekoungo, a Bobo village known for its sacred well, a fetish house and millet beer-making. Just before arriving in Segou, you'll stop to see an eight century Baobab tree and the bee hives that live in the trunk of the tree. Please do not wear perfume as it attracts bees. In Segou, check in at the Hotel Esplanade for dinner and overnight. (B,L,D)
Thursday, Feb 06
After breakfast, spend some time exploring Segou, the "city of 4,444 Balanza trees" (Acacia trees). Visit the Ndomo workshop (mud-cloth painting) and see the colonial-style buildings, then continue on to Sekoro, ancient capital of the Bambara Kingdom. You'll pay a visit to a direct descendant of King Biton Mamary Coulibaly and visit the king’s tomb, the vestibule where he received his guests and the mosque he built for his mother, despite him being an animist. Return to your hotel in Segou for lunch then spend the rest of the afternoon relaxing or wandering the market to shop for handicrafts on your own. Dinner and overnight at Hotel Esplanade. (B,L,D)
Friday, Feb 07
You'll have the morning at leisure, with the guide and driver at your disposal. If you like, see some Bambara arts or rest up at the hotel. After lunch at the hotel, spend the afternoon enjoying the festival. Return to the hotel for dinner then return to the festival site. Overnight at Hotel Esplanade or similar. (B,L,D)
Saturday, Feb 08
Continue to enjoy the festivities with lunch and dinner at the hotel. Overnight at Hotel Esplanade or similar. (B,L,D)
Sunday, Feb 09
Segou – Bobo Dioulaso (Bukina Faso)
Today will be a long driving day (339 miles) with a border crossing at Mali and Burkina Faso. Time permitting, stop to visit some villages along the way. Upon arrival in Bobo Dioulaso, check-in at the Hotel Auberge for dinner and overnight. (B,L,D)
Monday, Feb 10
Bobo Dioulaso - Banfora
In the morning, visit the Sudanese style Mosque, wander the old quarter and colorful market, and see the sacred cat fish in the pond. Also visit Konsa House, the ritual center of a senior house of the Zara (or Bobo-Jula) group. After lunch at a local restaurant, drive to Banfora (52 miles) with views of sugar cane fields along the way. On arrival, check-in at the Hotel Canne à Sucre or similar. This afternoon, visit Tengrela Lake with the possibility of seeing some hippos. Return to Banfora for dinner and overnight. (B,L,D)
Tuesday, Feb 11
Banfora - Gaoua
After breakfast at the hotel, drive to Gaoua (123 miles) via the UNESCO ruins of Loropeni. In Obiré, if you're lucky, you may meet the 29th Gan King of the dynasty and his 20 wives (it is forbidden to shake his hand.) Here you will learn about the Gan people’s traditions and beliefs and visit their museum to see a representation of the 28 former kings. Continue on to Gaoua where you'll check-in at the hotel for lunch. Afterwards, take tour of Gaoua including the Women's Cooperation and the museum. Dinner and overnight at Hotel Hala or similar. (B,L,D)
Wednesday, Feb 12
Gaoua - Sabou - Ouagadougou
In the morning, drive to Ouagadougou (123 miles), capital of Burkina Faso, stopping en-route to visit some Mossi villages and the sacred crocodiles of Sabou. If you like, you can buy some chickens at the village to get the crocodiles come out of the water. Continue on to Ouagadougou where you'll check in at your hotel for dinner and overnight. (B,L,D)
Thursday, Feb 13
Ouagadougou – Tiebele – Ouagadougou
After breakfast, lave on an excursion to Tiebele (221 mi) to see the unique painted houses, a few of the local sacred places and the amazing decoration and type of buildings. You will have a chance to enter one of the houses to see the inside then continue to walk through the market. in the west of the African continent, lying between Mali and Ghana, this country is the cradle of an artistic lineage of kings that live in a little village, and which, it would not be an exaggeration to say, is hand-painted: Tiébélé. Picnic lunch and return to Ouagadougou for dinner and overnight.(B,L,D)
Friday, Feb 14
Ouagadougou – USA
You'll have a morning city tour of Ouagadougou including the museum to learn about the local cultures and see the masks and traditional costumes from Burkina Faso's major ethnic groups. Also visit the artisan village where you can purchase some local arts and crafts. Lunch will be at a local restaurant followed by some leisure time until it is time for the transfer to the airport for your onward flight. (B,L,D)
Note: Most airlines departing February 14th will connect via Europe, landing in the USA on February 15.
We (STS) reserve the right to change hotels, restaurants or the order of activities if/as needed