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Things to see and do in Mali

Attractions in Mali

Admire the traditional architecture of Djenné

Often considered the 'Jewel of the Niger', Djenné is home to the world's largest mud-brick building, the Grande Mosquée. Almost every building in town follows the same traditional adobe architecture. About 5km (3 miles) to the south is the archaeological site of Djenné-Djeno (Old Djenné), founded around 250BC and one of the oldest towns in sub-Saharan Africa.

Explore Gao’s traditional architecture

An important town on the trans-Saharan trade routes, Gao had its heyday in the 15th century when it was capital of the Songhai Empire. The mosque of Musa I (considered the richest man who has ever lived) and the tomb of Askia, both traditional Sahelian mud-brick structures, can be found here.

Go on safari at Boucle de Baoulé National Park

With a number of permanent water sources Boucle de Baoulé National Park permits an array of southern Sahelian species to thrive even during the dry season. Giraffe, leopard, lion, elephant, buffalo and hippo are all present in the park. Mostly comprising a savannah landscape, this natural wonder is also known for its prehistoric tombs and rock art.

Marvel at Mount Hombori

Located close to Mopti, flat-topped Mount Hombori is not only Mali's tallest mountain at just over 1,150m (3,800 feet), but also an important ecological and archaeological site. Its steep sides have protected its flora and fauna from degradation and its caves have been inhabited for more than 2000 years.

Reach the fabled city of Timbuktu

The city of Timbuktu, straddling ancient trans-Saharan caravan routes, remains the centre of a lucrative trade in salt and gold that dates back centuries, as well as being an important centre of Islamic learning. The Tuareg presence gives the city an Arabic feel that contrasts Mali's other cities, and many historic mosques and tombs remain.

Sit by the Niger at Mopti

Located at the confluence of the Bani and the Niger rivers, Mopti is built on three islands joined by raised causeways. The mud-brick Grand Mosque is a good example of Sahelian architecture. The town's central market, Marché des Souvenirs, and the area surrounding the port are also worth visiting.

Swing by Ségou

Located on the banks of the River Niger, Ségou is known for its pottery and the production of bogolan cloth, dyed using fermented mud. The nearby village of Ségou-Koro (Old Ségou), lying 10km (6 miles) upstream, became the capital of the Bambara Empire in the 17th century, and was visited by explorer Mungo Park in 1796.

Take in the capital’s culture

Mali's capital, Bamako, is a modern-looking city on the River Niger and the educational and cultural centre of the country. Not to be missed are its markets, the botanical gardens, the Musée National and the craft centre at the Maison des Artisans. The nearby Point G Hill houses prehistoric cave paintings and offers great views of Bamako below.

Trek Dogon country

A trek between the traditional villages of the Bandiagara escarpment, which are cut into pink sandstone cliffs, offers exquisite views. Inhabited by the Dogon, whose ancient beliefs have remained largely untouched by Islam, the unique architectural style of these villages has helped them become listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site.

Watch sunset over La Dune Rose

A short distance from Gao, La Dune Rose lies on the right bank of the Niger. Come sunset, Koïma – as it is known locally – turns a wondrous pink. To take maximum advantage of the atmosphere, head upstream to Quema and Hondo, where the sunset ignites similar colours on more dunes.

Tourist offices

Office Malien du Tourisme et de l'Hôtellerie (Tourist Office of Mali)

Address: rue Mohamed V, Bamako,
Telephone: 222 5673.
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