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Published: January 30th 2010
Standard of Vechiles
There were bits held together by string and poly-filla
Mali turned out to be quite a difficult country to travel around on our small budget. I left
this country with a feeling of relief, my wallet left feeling as though it had been raped
but now that I can reflect on my time in Mali it was an interesting place. The people are
very poor and when blended with a male dominated, macho environment it can lead to some
annoying and uncomfortable situations. I found it difficult to have patience sometimes and
it made me feel tired of traveling when it took 12 hours to travel 130km and at the same
time everyone you meet in that day is trying to get money out of you in one way or another,
but as I have heard many times now "That's Africa"
The food was quite cheap but public transport and hotels were expensive and to reduce the
cost as much as possible we had to lose some quality of vehicles and hotels, we even stayed
two nights in Segou in a hotel without water or electricity.
Like most developing countries with a big population there were people everywhere selling
lots of different things. Shopping was a
Standard of Vechiles
Great interior though
joy as I could buy some crappy plastic toys without
So it was hard work backpacking in this part of Africa but the saving grace was that
BEER was legal again.
We did 3 great things in Mali, a trek of the Dogon country, a river trip along the Niger
river between Mopti and Timbuktu and the festival of the desert, close to Timbuktu.
The 5 day trek through the Dogon country was an amazing experience and one of the best
things I have ever done. The Dogon country is an area of Mali where the people and their
way of life has resisted Islam, christianity and the general influence of the outside
world. It consists of many villages built on the side of a 200km long sandstone cliff,
called the Bandiagara escarpment.
The scenery was amazing, we walked up and down the escarpment enabling us to appreciate
great views and some beautiful rock formations.
We visited many villages, sleeping on mattresses on the roofs of mud building and getting
to walk around and meet the locals and see how they live, the men have more than one wife
Standard of hotel
The one with no electricity or water for 9 Euros
and the families are huge, we met a guy with 28 children.
The people were fantastic, from a completely different world but their simple lives seemed
to leave them happy and they were very friendly.
The greeting between themselves was brilliant like singing as they asked of the well being
of everyone they knew
"How is your mum?"
"She is fine"
"How is your dad?"
"He is fine"
"How is your brother?"
"He is fine"etc etc for all the family members and their friends and their pets and their pets friends
There were many wood carvings on doors, windows, supporting beams and plenty of
statues. The architecture of the area was also distinct with the mosques (christianity and
islam have arrived but they co-exist with traditional animist beliefs and they are not
taken seriously by many) the witches-hat roofs giving the appearance of a fairytale land.
Millet is a very important food source - they build many containers on the escarpment above
the villages and these witches-hat containers are built to store millet, and they even
make a millet beer which I tried but i'd stick to fizzy ones if i was you.
lucky to be in the Dogon region at christmas time as we were able to witness a
traditional dance that we were told was to give thanks for the rain they just had.
I also seized used this beautiful area to eat my corn flakes in Mali
After celebrating new years in Mopti we jumped on the 3 day boat to Timbuktu which was still
running despite the falling water level. I actually got really ill, Typhoid or Malaria so
spent much of the time lying down but i could still appreciate the natural beauty and the
The festival in the desert turned out to be a mixed bag. Firstly it was way to expensive,
150 Euros for a ticket, but had the festival been amazing I would have forgotten the money
but only a few of the advertised artists bothered to turn up, the music didn't play during
the day and started at 6-7pm but didn't get exciting until midnight, it was very badly
organised but at the same time being a westerner I was always aware that I was at a festival
in the Sahara desert surrounded by the Touareg desert folk.
That first sip was a big one
In summary a rip-off tourist
trap but still pretty cool.
On our way to Senegal we stopped at Djenne to see Africa's biggest mosque.
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