From mosques to markets, Mali offers unique experiences, unlike anything you’ll find at other travel destinations. It’s certainly worth a visit, especially if you intend to broaden your cultural horizons. This Mali travel guide will help you select the ideal to-dos for your vacation itinerary.
Mali Travel Guide: Go On A Cultural Trip
The tallest mountain in all of Mali, Mount Hombori stands proudly at 3,789 feet. Its height, however, is not what sets it apart. The mountain is an important biodiversity site; while a very narrow range of animals resides at its base, the mountain’s plateau provides a safe home for over 150 plant species and a variety of mammals, birds, reptiles, and other animals. Environmentalists argue that the plateau’s biodiversity simply results from its lack of overgrazing. Cattle cannot ascend the mountain’s steep cliffs, so the plateau on top does not suffer the same problems as the land below.
Point G Hill
Another Mali plateau worth witnessing, Bamako’s Point G Hill provides a welcome break from the hustle and bustle of the city. During an easy drive over well-maintained roads, you’ll encounter green surroundings and several spots worthy of stopping for a picture. An oft-forgotten attraction, this site offers a magnificent view of the Bamako area.
National Museum of Mali
Also located in Bamako, Mali’s National Museum boasts a variety of intriguing archeological exhibits. While visiting, you’ll gain valuable insight into the history of Mali and the cultural traditions of the country’s many ethnic groups. Although small, the museum is worth visiting for its unique collection of ethnographic pieces.
La Dune Rose
La dune rose de gao au nord du Mali pic.twitter.com/lY9JG2fBJH
— Raoh (@Jinsquar) March 7, 2015
An ideal setting for sunset viewing, La Dune Rose is located in the heart of Gao in Mali. The remarkable sand dune sits on the bank of the Niger River. Locals refer to the sight as Koïma or Koyma, which is the small town situated at the base of the attraction. It’s steeped in legend, in part due to the stunning pink views that now attract visitors from all around the world. Locals long believed this unique pink hue occurred because La Dune Rose housed magicians.
Great Mosque of Djenné
As the world’s largest mud-built structure and one of history’s most significant religious sites, the Great Mosque of Djenné attracts history buffs and architecture enthusiasts alike. The structure served as an important political and cultural symbol for several centuries. Local legend indicates that King Koi Konboro called for the original mosque’s construction during the 13th century. The current version, however, was completed in 1907. Today, it features multiple minarets, terra-cotta lids covering holes in the roof, and ostrich eggs placed atop conical extensions to symbolize fertility.
The Markets of Bamako
No international shopping experience quite compares to Bamako, where you’ll find curiosities unavailable anywhere else. Arguably the strangest (and most disturbing) market at Bamako features a variety of animals in various states of decay, all intended for use as amulets or otherwise keeping wearers safe. Animals sold at the market include hyenas, lions, hippos, and hedgehogs, among others.
This market may not be for the faint of heart, but thankfully, Bamako’s shopping center is diverse and includes several tamer shops. Keep an eye out for products from local artisans — especially leatherwork. Work on your bargaining skills before you visit; haggling is an essential part of the shopping experience in Bamako.
Boucle du Baoulé National Park
Initially created in the interest of addressing overgrazing in Mali, Boucle du Baoulé National Park is best known for its prehistoric rock art, rather than its animals. However, a few noteworthy species reside within the park, including gazelles and Western chimpanzees. The park’s landscape consists almost entirely of a savanna. Be sure to check out the national park’s office, which you’ll find at the zoo in Bamako.
Cliffs of Bandiagara
— Travel Africa mag (@TravelAfricamag) October 10, 2017
Also known as the Bandiagara Escarpment, the Cliffs of Bandiagara feature stunning architecture and a community steeped in cultural tradition. The village’s setting along a tall cliff once gave it a strategic advantage in battle. Today, the cliff rises 1,640 feet to provide an unforgettable sight for locals and tourists alike.
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If you prioritize adventure and expanding your cultural knowledge while abroad, you will find much to love about the sights, sounds, and smells of Mali. Be sure to include at least a few unusual experiences in your itinerary; these adventures will help you learn more about the world and more about yourself.
Have you been to Mali? Did you like our Mali travel guide? Share your experiences in the comments below!