Wonder at theancient villages cut into the Cliffs of Bandiagara, peopled by the Dogons, whose ancient beliefs have remained largely untouched by Islam. The spectacular villages have been listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site.
Explore the capital Bamako, a modern town and the educational and cultural centre of Mali. The main places of interest are the markets, the botanical gardens, the Musée National, the zoo and the craft centre at the Maison des Artisans.
Admire the 'Jewel of the Niger', Djenné, with the world's largest mud-brick building - the Grande Mosquée. This is one of the oldest trading towns along the Trans-Saharan caravan routes. About 5km (3 miles) away is Old Djenné, founded around 250BC; today it is listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site.
Another ancient city to wander round isGao, whichhad its heyday in the 15th century. The mosque of Kankan Moussa, the tombs of the Askia Dynasty, and two excellent markets can be found here.
La Boucle de Baoule National Park
Spot wildlife in the La Boucle de Baoule National Park, which contains an array of southern Sahelian species of animals, including giraffe, leopard, lion, elephant, buffalo and hippo.
See how Mopti is located at the confluence of the Bani and the Niger, built on three islands joined by dykes. There is another fine mosque here. The market in the town centre, Marché des Souvenirs, and the area surrounding the port are also worth visiting.
San and Ségou
Investigate other interesting towns such as San and Ségou, one of the largest cities in Mali known for its pottery, market and mosque.
Go to Timbuktu, where the magnificent camel caravans arrive every year from the salt mines to distribute their produce. Timbuktu was the centre of a lucrative trade in salt and gold, straddling the Trans-Saharan caravan routes, as well as being a great centre of Islamic learning. Many beautiful mosques (Djingerebur, Sankore and Sidi Yahaya for example) and tombs, some dating back to the 14th century, remain.
Trek Dogon country
Trek the Bandiagara escarpment in the Dogon country, with Bandiagara, Bankass and Mopti being the main starting points for trekking trips. Guides are available and recommended; travellers should check that guides have an official identification card.