Dogon Country

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November 17th 2007
Published: November 22nd 2007
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Dogon masked dancerDogon masked dancerDogon masked dancer

They put on quite the show.
Following Timbuktu we made the drive back to Sevare (near Mopti) with the repaired truck along the same road responsible for the damage (there is only one road to Timbuktu). We made it without any major consequences this time.

From Sevare we drove to the village of Bandiagara and onwards to the village where we left the truck once again to start our 3 day trek through Dogon country. To quote Wikipedia: "The Dogon are a group of people living in the central plateau region of Mali, south of the Niger bend near the city of Bandiagara in the Mopti region. They number just under 800,000. The Dogon are best known for their mythology, their mask dances, wooden sculpture and their architecture." Their villages are built into the Bandiagara Escarpement and the live very much the way they have been for the past several hundred years although the tourist influence is definately niticable as they are Mali's biggest tourist attraction. Every child in Mali has been taught the word 'cadeau' from a very young age.

The setting along the escarpment is stunning. On the first day we hiked 5km in the afternoon and descended the escarpment to our first village arriving at sunset. We slept on the roof under our moquito nets with the rest of the tourists doing the trek. Food was surprisingly good as we had pasta with chicken and tomato sauce for dinner (yes, our standards have come down a bit...). The next morning we went for a brief tour of the village before hiking 8km to another village for lunch to avoid the heat of the day. Then we had siesta times until about 2:30. Then we were treated to the tribal mask dancing that serves an important part of their culture. While they do this for all tourists it was still neat to experience. The masks were quite unique and the dancers were surprisingly nimble while carrying the burden of the masks.

Afterwards we set off for another 7km to the next village where we had supper and spent the night sleeping on the roof. On the last day we hiked 5km before lunch and another difficult 2km back up the escarpement after lunch to meet Daphne once again. The daytime temperatures must have been pushing 40 degrees at the peak of the day's heat and we sweated out every drop of water we drank. The trekking itself was not difficult, but the heat made it tough. It was one of the most worthwhile experiences so far.

Additional photos below
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Looking down the escarpement. We climbed down to the bottom on the first day.

Caves from the tribes that existed prior to the Dogons.

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