Mali Journals

Roughing It in Mali to Reach Fabled Timbuktu

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A November 2005 trip to Mali by fallschirmhosen

Joe and Jill Camel Photo, Mali, Africa More Photos
Quote: Mali is simply a place like no other. Originally planned as a relaxing vacation, this trip turned into an adventure and challenge around every corner.

Campement Hotel

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Hotel | "Campement Hotel de Mopti"

Campement Hotel Photo, Mali, Africa
Quote:
Conveniently located on the edge of downtown Mopti is the Campement Hotel de Mopti. There are better places to stay than this, though the location of this hotel is a draw.Rooms have both air-conditioners and fans, though chances are the air-conditioner is just for decoration. Mine seemed to have been dead for quite some time. The rooms tend to be rather warm, so the fan is a must. Beds are covered with a mosquito net, which is probably necessary considering the proximity of Mopti to water.Rooms have private bathrooms, which are rather large. Wear sandals, and be careful about the flimsy soap dish holders. The hotel does provide soap, shampoo, and a towel to use, though I prefer...Read More

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on January 29, 2006

Campement Hotel
Just off the main highway at the edge of downtown Mopti
Mopti, Mali
+223 243-0032

Auberge Kansaye

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Hotel

Auberge Kansaye Photo, Mali, Africa
Quote:
If you don't mind loud music playing all night and sweltering heat in your room, Auberge Kansaye is the place for you!Each room is named after a village in Dogon Country. They are small, hot, and dirty. The beds appear to have clean sheets, though mine had holes and smelled. The mattresses are of very poor quality and sagged quite a bit. The walls appear to have been painted a baby blue color about 100 years ago. And the floor... well, let's just say my room had some unidentifiable stains.The temperature in the room rivals the temperature of most saunas. You can pay extra for a fan or just steal one, like I did. They do provide mosquito nets, which is a good idea in this town, espe...Read More

Member Rating 2 out of 5 on January 29, 2006

Auberge Kansaye
Off Bankas Road
Bandiagara, Mali
244 29 04

Hotel Via Via

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Hotel

Hotel Via Via Photo, Mali, Africa
Quote:
On the edge of Sevare, adjacent to the bus station, is Hotel Via Via. Opened in 2003, this hotel is clean and modern and a welcome sight after going days without showering in Dogon Country.Rooms are large in size, clean, and air-conditioned. I did not sleep in the room, though. I slept on the roof. If you're coming from Dogon Country and are used to sleeping on the roof of buildings, it is a piece of cake. The hotel will gladly put a mattress on the roof for you. Just be careful of all the rebar sticking out of the roof.Each room has a private shower and bathroom. They are clean and stocked with towels. Unlike most places in Mali, Hotel Via Via has sit-down toilets AND toilet paper...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on January 29, 2006

Hotel Via Via
Next to bus station, west of town center
Sevare, Mali
2142 12 64

El Hostal Ende Logement

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Hotel | "Restaurant & Hotel Ende"

El Hostal Ende Logement Photo, Bamako, Mali
Quote:
If you're looking for a place that is not your typical hotel and will put you right in the middle of a neighborhood that rarely sees tourists, check out the Restaurant & Hotel Ende. It's way off the beaten path and has a few rooms to rent out to tourists.Its primary function is to serve as a meeting place for local and Dogon guides. Though, as in my case, it also serves as a hotel. The owner is Dogon, and his brother (Aly) is a Dogon guide. Aly was my guide for the trip.The beds are comfortable, though my pillow would have been a bit nicer to rest my head on if it did not feel like a rock. They do provide clean sheets in each room, as well as a small desk and small garbage ...Read More

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on January 29, 2006

El Hostal Ende Logement
168 Street, 300 Logements
Bamako, Mali
223 75 32 99 85

Hotel Sahara Passion

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Hotel | "Sahara Passion Hotel"

Hotel Sahara Passion Photo, Timbuktu, Mali
Quote:
On the edge of town, near the Toureg Peace Monument and the Amanar Restaurant, lies the Sahara Passion Hotel. As with most structures in Timbuktu, it is a stone-and-mud structure. There is a small restaurant in the front, though I only tried the breakfast food there.I did not see any of the rooms inside, as I slept on the roof. Roof sleeping is fine. The hotel will provide a mattress and mosquito net. There is also a clothesline to hang wet clothes. Tents are allowed on the roof, too.There is a shared bathroom at the end of the main hallway inside the hotel. Besides the luxury of a sit-down toilet, there is a decent shower that seems to get warmer the longer you're in it. I wil...Read More

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on January 29, 2006

Hotel Sahara Passion
Near Flamme de la Paix monument
Northwestern Timbuktu
223 631 9045 or 223

Amanar

Restaurant | "Restaurant Amanar"

Quote:
Near the Sahara Passion Hote and across the street from the Toureg Peace Monument lies Restaurant Amanar. The menu is small, but the food is excellent. I ordered my usual plate of spaghetti. As with most places in Mali, it took a little while for the food to arrive, but it was nothing out of the ordinary. It was a big surprise when the chef came to my table to apologize for the food taking too long to come out. He had no need to apologize.

If you're near the edge of Timbuktu, near the Peace Monument and the desert, check out Restaurant Amanar.

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on January 29, 2006

Amanar
Across From The Flame Of Peace Monument
Timbuktu, Mali

Hotel Camping Touareg

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Hotel

Hotel Camping Touareg Photo, Timbuktu, Mali
Quote:
A few blocks from the Toureg Peace Monument, the Sahara Passion Hotel, and Amanar Restaurant is Hotel Camping Touareg. Owned by an American, this is a tiny three-room hotel (with roof sleeping) on the edge of Timbuktu. Built in recent years, the building is in great shape and relatively clean.The rooms have very high ceilings with a ceiling fan. However, there are no large windows to bring in natural light. Even during the day the rooms tend to be very dark. The only windows are a couple small ones near the door and a small one in the back of the room. Most light for the room comes from a florescent light above the door. At night this attracts lots of bugs, so be prepared to wear sunscreen...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on January 29, 2006

Hotel Camping Touareg
Near Toureg Peace Monument
Timbuktu, Mali

My Itinerary

Day 01 - Learning to Adjust

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Story/Tip

Street Food in Bamako Photo, Mali, Africa
Quote:
Being my first time in Africa, and knowing that I was not taking the usual African trip, I got quite nervous as the plane approached Bamako. As with most flights in and out of Bamako, they arrive and depart in the middle of the night. My flight, from Casablanca, arrived at 3am.After landing, you walk across the tarmac to the terminal. Within 10 minutes you fill out an entry form, show your passport and visa to the security and customs officials, and have your bags scanned, and then you are out of the terminal. It was at this point that I knew my trip would be quite different than one I have ever taken before.Immediately after passing through customs, a man said, "Are you Greg?" I s...Read More

Day 02 - Driving to Bandiagara

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Story/Tip

Segou's port Photo, Mali, Africa
Quote:
I met Aly at Hotel Moba-So's lobby around 9am. His friend who was traveling with us was also supposed to be ready to go at 9am, but he decided to sleep in. So, Aly took me to "downtown" Segou for breakfast. Segou is one of Mali's bigger towns. Located on the Niger River, it has a small port. A few blocks from the port are some hotels and souvenir stands. After doing the touristy things, Aly took me to his "sister's" apartment near the center of town. I was expecting to meet a blood relative, but she turned out to be a white Canadian woman who lived in Mali. Unlike most places in Mali, her apartment had finished floors and a real kitchen, and she even had a shiny iBook laptop.Once Aly's frien...Read More
Songo Photo, Mali, Africa
Quote:
After waking up in the scariest place I had ever slept, Aly's friend Chicken met me at the hotel and gave me a tour of Bandiagara. This was his hometown, and he knew every nook and cranny of it, so he took me to areas that most tourists never go, areas that were very dirty and different than the parts of town Westerners see.After the tour of Bandiagara, Chicken hired a motorbike and we drove to the village of Songo. Tis town is about 20 miles outside Bandiagara, off the main road. Unlike most Dogon villages, this village is not under the Dogon plateau. The road to the town has been repaired in recent years, which has enabled more tourists to visit. On my visit, a new hotel was nearing comple...Read More
Teli Cliff Villages Photo, Mali, Africa
Quote:
After sleeping on the roof of the hotel I stayed in without needing a mosquito net, waking up to the sound of kids playing and animals making animal noises, and seeing the Dogon plateau looming overhead, nicely lit by the rising sun, was a very memorable experience. I shared part of my breakfast with one of the local women, and then I met the Dutch woman outside. We wandered around town a bit, taking photos of children and the amazing sights.Before long, Aly and Chicken showed up and said we'd be walking from town to town today. Chicken expressed how good it is to walk and that I will get the true Dogon experience when I walked. Soon after that Aly and I were walking, and Chicken said he'd c...Read More

Day 05 - Hiking out of Dogon

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Story/Tip

Bandiagara market Photo, Mali, Africa
Quote:
I woke up in Begnimato on the roof of a hut to see the beautiful sight of the sun hitting the tower cliffs above the village. Apparently two nights earlier there was traditional Dogon mask dancing on the cliffs, a rarity for tourists to see, but the Americans I met had witnessed it.After breakfast, Aly gave me a tour of the village, where I met another man who hunted monkeys and put their skulls in the walls of his house. We then walked to the edge of the plateau overlooking the villages below and the great plains in front of us. This sight made me really feel like I was in Africa. It reminded me of an African plain you might see in National Geographic.When we returned to the hotel...Read More
It's not a pirahna Photo, Mali, Africa
Quote:
I woke up in Sevare feeling good. I had a nice shower the day before, I was at a clean, nice hotel, and today was the day we'd drive to Bambara Maounde to start the much-anticipated camel ride to Timbuktu. But, as I would soon find out, today would not go nearly as planned.When Aly met me after breakfast, he informed me that our driver told him that he would not drive us to Bambara Maounde. The driver had an old Peugeot, which was not suitable for the rough dirt and sand roads between Douentza and Bambara Maounde. So now we had no ride.Aly brought me to Mopti, about 10 minutes away, where he hooked me up with a friend of his who would give me a tour of the Bozo and Flani villages t...Read More
Bambara Mounde Photo, Mali, Africa
Quote:
I awoke this morning after what was a long, cold, miserable night on the dirt floor of a "restaurant" in the dustbowl town of Bambara Maounde. The previous day we were not able to get the camels to ride to Timbuktu as expected, so we unexpectedly spent the night on the floor of a restaurant since the town had no other places to sleep. Aly and I awoke this morning to hopefully find camels to take us to Timbuktu.Since I could not speak the language, Aly went off to look for camels, again. He returned soon and said a man would be there at 9:30am with camels. I was excited and glad that the main reason I came here would be actually happening. Before long, the camels came with a Toureg man who wa...Read More
Your neighborhood butcher Photo, Mali, Africa
Quote:
I woke up on the roof of the Sahara Passion (about 5000CFA to camp on roof, rooms for about 12000CFA) hotel ready to see what this mysterious town had to offer. The previous night I had arrived late, then immediately went to the hotel and ate, so I did not see much at all.After eating breakfast, Aly met me and brought me to a friend of his who would give me a tour of the town. For the next couple hours I took a guided tour of Timbuktu. The tour, however, was not anything worth spending on. My guide was 18 years old and did not seem to know much about the town he had lived his entire life in. Most questions I asked he could not answer. When I asked him when people first arrived in Timbuktu, h...Read More
Middle of Nowhere Photo, Mali, Africa
Quote:
I was not quite sure what to expect on my trip to the Sahara. I had originally hoped to ride camels TO Timbuktu, so I was not planning to take a ride into the desert on a camel. After the 3-hour ride the previous day, I had no idea what was in store for me in the desert. Perhaps see Toureg villages? Perhaps ride all day? I wasn't sure.I woke up and found my Toureg guide building a fire right in front of my feet. As I sat in my sleeping bag, he prepared tea for us, and then we ate a bread breakfast. Luckily, I brought oranges and the Aussies brought dates for us to eat, too. After eating, a group of three traveling Toureg salesmen stopped to try selling us souvenirs. We all declined....Read More
Coffee Break Photo, Mali, Africa
Quote:
After another good night sleeping out in the open in the Sahara, I was a bit sad knowing I'd have to return to Timbuktu and face the noise, dirtiness, and confusion of being in that city.We spent the night at our Toureg guide's wife's brother's camp. Waking up, I found our guide, his wife's brother, and his wife's brother's son sitting in front of me. The son appeared to be about 5 or 6 years old and mimicked everything we did and said. Unfortunately, he mimicked too much. At one point he picked up a used cigarette butt from the sand (that his father may have smoked), placed it in his mouth, and began pretending to puff away. In Mali, though, many people smoke, including young teenagers....Read More
Crossing the Niger Photo, Mali, Africa
Quote:
I felt relieved waking up on the last day I'd be in Timbuktu. I was glad knowing Aly had found a ride out of town, albeit an expensive one. Today also happened to be Thanksgiving Day. Yet, unknown to me as I left the hotel and walked to the meeting place on the other side of town, today would be unlike any Thanksgiving Day I would ever experience.At 7am, Aly, Rod, and I all met at Hotel Boctou to take the Toyota Land Cruiser back to Mopti. Aly told us we'd have to walk to the car's owner's house, back towards where I had just walked from. When we arrived, Rod and I sat down in the small living area/courtyard in the house, while Aly went outside with the owner. Through the front doors we co...Read More
Quote:
Even though I slept in an actual bed, had a fan in the room to keep me cool, and was exhausted from the previous day of traveling, I did not sleep well during my stay at Campement Hotel de Mopti (about 15000CFA/night). I was scheduled to take a 7am bus from Mopti to Bamako with Jezabel, the French girl who rode with Aly, Rod, and I from Timbuktu to Mopti the day before. So, I awoke at 5am, packed my bag, and was outside at 6am to meet Aly for breakfast. In typical Aly fashion, he was late. Around 6:30am, a man who worked at the hotel restaurant approached me and told me Aly had arranged for him to give me breakfast. I walked to the restaurant and had my usual breakfast in Mali: tea and bread with hone...Read More
Quote:
After my shower, change of clothes, dinner, packing my bag, and conversing with the French photographer and man from Boston, my prepaid taxi arrived to take me to the airport. Unlike every time I was traveling somewhere in Mali, the taxi arrived 30 minutes early. I was expecting it to arrive 30 minutes late.The ride from the hotel to the airport is a quick 15 minutes or so and costs about 7000CFA (US$14). It felt good driving in a reliable car with the windows down on a cool night wearing clean clothes. At the airport I gave my remaining 500CFA in my pocket to the driver as a tip, grabbed my bag, and headed inside.The strange thing about the airport in Bamako is that nearly eve...Read More