My trip to Mali 2008

On the 24th of May 2008 I flew from Casablanca to Bamako, the capital of Mali. I decided to fly instead of an overland trip due to the lack of time.

My idea was of staying at least 2 weeks in Mali, and, travel widely around the country.

Initially I had five main goals in mind:

  • Listen to some live music
  • Arrive to Timbuktu
  • See the Great Mosque of Djenné
  • Interact with Tuareg people
  • Visit the Land of Dogons

These were my goals and my travel proposes to Mali.

Unfortunately I visited neither the Land of Dogons nor the Mosque of Djenné.

Trip day-by-day

  • 23rd May: Casablanca – Bamako
  • 24th May: Bamako
  • 25th May: Bamako
  • 26th May: Bamako – Mopti
  • 27th May: Mopti – Sevaré – Kona – Douentza – Hombori
  • 28th May: Hombori – Main de Fatma
  • 29th May: Hombori – Gao
  • 30th May: Gao – Bourem – Tombouctou
  • 31st May: Tombouctou
  • 1st June: Tombouctou – Mopti
  • 2nd June: Mopti – Bamako
  • 3rd June: Bamako – Casablanca (flight at 3:30am)

Map of Mali with my itinerary

Map of small 12 days itinerary in Mali, May June 2008

Map of small 12 days itinerary in Mali, May June 2008

12 Days in mali

In the beginning of my plans, I really wanted to visit the Land of Dogons, but after a few days in Bamako and arriving to Mopti where I could easily make a 2 days excursion, I decided to head East direction Gao, to try to see the elephants that I heard were passing somewhere near Hombori. So I went to Hombori but couldn’t see those elephants. Maybe next time I hope.

After Hombori and visited the breath taking mountains of “La main de Fatma”, I keep on going direction Gao which lies 1200 km northeast of Bamako, to see the UNESCO Tomb of Askia Mohammad, the Dune Rose and some Bozo fisherman in action on the Niger River.

After a few days in Gao I decided to go to Timbuktu, city founded in the 12th century and known as the “mysterious city”; but instead of going back to Gao – Hombori – Douentza – Timbuktu, I decided to go crazy and take one of those smugglers pickup trucks full of merchandise and along with 18 people on top of the cargo, there we went on a 22 hours journey into the Sahara, direction Timbuktu.

1:20am and entering Bourem, the Mauritanian driver while listening to music, went inside military zone and dozens of soldiers with guns appeared and pointed Kalashnikov’s at us to jump down of the pick-up while moving as the driver didn’t listen. We on top of the cargo could see all.

The way along the river (that didn’t exist at this time of the year), made the driver confused and lost for 3 times. So, the normal Gao – Bourem – Timbuktu end up taking 22 hours. Early in the morning we asked for directions to Timbuktu and were told that were 120km away, 2 hours after, we asked again, and surprisingly were 150km away.

Timbuktu end like a relief after those 22 harsh hours on top of that Mauritanian Toyota Land Cruiser. The city it self looks empty and like a ghost town especially with the 2 sand storms I got during my stay. Timbuktu, the “mysterious city” is pleasant to feel and hang around the streets and imagine how it could have been once upon a time. The old mosques in the centre are impressive and gorgeous.

I went back to Bamako stopping in Mopti on the way as the bus from Timbuktu – Douentza run down after the river ferry-boat, so the trip took a bit longer than expected.

Again in Bamako, I went to see Omou Sangaré singing live in her hotel, and after a few songs she came up to my table and said hello and asked me some questions about my country and if I liked Mali. I got my flight back home to Casablanca on the 3rd of June at 3am.

Central Market of Bamako

Central Market near The Great Mosque of Bamako, Mali

Central Market near The Great Mosque of Bamako, Mali

Children playing football in Gao

Children playing football on the dry Niger River in Gao, Mali

Children playing football on the dry Niger River in Gao, Mali

Pick-up truck stuck in sand way to Timbuktu

Mauritanian Toyota Land Cruiser transport between Gao and Timbuktu, Mali

Mauritanian Toyota Land Cruiser transport between Gao and Timbuktu, Mali

Advertisements

 
%d bloggers like this: