Getting around Mali

Air

Some domestic flights are provided by Air Mali (L9). Light aircraft can also be chartered from the Société des Transports Aériens (STA).

Departure tax

CFAF2,500.

Road

Note: Visitors are advised to keep to the main roads, otherwise they should travel in convoy. Caution should be exercised when travelling at night. Visitors should consult official travel advice.

Side of road
Right
Road quality

Roads in Mali range from moderate to very bad.

Particular care should be taken if driving in Bamako.

The main road runs from Sikasso in the south to Bamako, and to Mopti and Gao.

Between Mopti and Gao, travel can be difficult during the rainy season (mid June to mid September) when the Niger, at its confluence with the Bani, splits into a network of channels, and floods its banks to form the marshlands of the Macina.

Stops at customs and police checkpoints are frequent on major roads and driving is particularly hazardous after dark.

Coach

Documentation

Documentation: International Driving Permit recommended, although not legally required. Insurance and a carnet de passage are also needed.

By road note

Note: Visitors are advised to keep to the main roads, otherwise they should travel in convoy. Caution should be exercised when travelling at night. Visitors should consult official travel advice.

Getting around towns and cities

Collective taxis in cities are very cheap. The taxis charge a standard fare regardless of the distance travelled. Tipping is not expected.

Rail

The train operator is Transrail. A Damar-Bamako train runs erratically due to ongoing engineering works needed urgently on the tracks. Dakar station (tel: (221) 849 4646) can advise travellers of the next departure a few days beforehand. It has also not been unknown for the train to start from the Gare de Hann, 3km (2 miles) out of Dakar, and not from Dakar station itself, so it is advised to check locally. The service is expected to be improved greatly by August 2007. The journey takes at least two days and nights. The trains have first- and second-class seats plus first-class couchettes with four-bunk compartments. They also have a bar-restaurant car selling drinks, snacks and inexpensive meals.

By water

Between July and December, there are services between Bamako and Gao via Timbuktu along the River Niger. However, because of drought in the Sahel desert, services are sometimes suspended. The journey is approximately 1,300km (800 miles) and takes five or six days. Between December and March, travel is only possible between Mopti and Gao. Food is available on the boats and first-class cabins can be booked in advance.

Motorised and non-motorised pirogues and pinasses (types of river boat) are available for hire between Timbuktu and Mopti.

Edited by Jane Duru
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