Plagued by unrest and coups, Mali has been off the travel radar in recent years. But this country at the heart of West Africa overflows with cultural riches and stunning landscapes. African empires left their mark in the iconic cities of Timbuktu and Djenne, while the Dogon people still inhabit cliff-side dwellings in the Bandiagara escarpment. The river Niger cuts through its heart and port cities such as Mopti exhibit African commerce in all its colourful glory. For those that travel to Mali, it is often the music that leaves the biggest impression, with legends such as Oumou Sangare and Toumani Diabate taking their country’s enchanting rhythms to the world stage.
What to do:
– Explore the Bandiagara Escarpment, inhabited by the traditional Dogon people who have lived in villages clinging to the cliff faces for centuries.
– Drift off to sleep on the rooftop of Hotel de la Falaise in Bandiagara while Malian music permeates around you and the African night sky illuminates above.
– Immerse yourself in the markets of Mopti on the banks of the Niger River where everything from salt to silk is traded and transported.
– Visit the famous mud mosque at Djenne – the largest mud-built structure in the world within a World Heritage Listed town on an island in the Bani River. Each Monday a vibrant market comes to life in the town, bringing with it an extra load of tourists.
– Eat fresh capitaine, Nile Perch, anywhere along the banks of this mighty river.
– Witness some of Mali’s most famous musicians perform in the heaving capital, Bamako – the centre of the country’s arts movement.
– Listen to Mali’s legendary singer Oumou Sangare