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Mali

Tour Code: MLI01

A 17-day tour featuring visits to the fabled city of Timbuktu, a boat trip on the River Niger, and time with one of the purest animist-fetishist cultures in Africa. A diverse and exciting array of birds and other wildlife is also observed.

dates & prices to be confirmed Land Only Price: £ SRS: £


Mali is one of Africa’s least-known but most exciting countries. It has a rich and

  • Dazzling variety of birdlife from parrots & turacos to rollers & bee-eaters
  • The bizarre Piapiac riding on the backs of cattle
  • Visit the world’s largest mud building – the Grand Mosque, Djenne
  • Visit Dogon villages & learn about their customs
  • Savannah birds such as Stone Partridge & Bearded Barbet
  • Kulikouro Firefinch, a virtual Malian endemic
  • Explore the fabled city of Timbuktu
  • Hippo & Nile Crocodile on a superb 3-day boat trip up the Niger
  • Led by an expert naturalist guidebr />

Food

All included in the price.

Accommodation

Simple but comfortable hotels in Bamako, Timbuktu, Mopti and Ségou, most with private facilities; basic hotels in Djenné and Douentza. Fully serviced camping for the six nights on the Niger and in Dogon country.

Mali (Andy Smith)

Mali (Andy Smith)

Outline Itinerary Download

Day 1 Fly Bamako

Day 2 Bamako

Day 3 Ségou

Day 4 Djenné

Day 5 Mopti

Day 6/7 Dogon country

Day 8 Douentza

Day 9/10 Timbuktu

Day 11/13 Boat journey on the River Niger

Day 14 Mopti

Day 15 Ségou

Day 16 Depart Bamako

Day 17 Arrive London

Mali, one of Africa’s least known but most exciting countries takes its name from an ancient empire and stretches from Ghana in the south to Algeria in the north. It is home to a wide variety of ethnic peoples including the Tuareg, the Fulani, the Bambara and the Dogon. Although materially poor, Mali has a rich and diverse culture and its people produce some of the finest artefacts to be found anywhere in Africa.

It is also a country of great geographical contrasts. The south is comprised of Guinean forest and savannah, and visitors are often surprised at how well wooded this region is. In the north lies a huge area of the Sahara Desert, whilst in between sits the arid scrub and grassland of the Sahel. The mighty River Niger carves a great arc through the southern half of the country and adds a further dimension. At the river’s northernmost point lies Timbuktu, once a great trading centre with an important university and still a fascinating and enigmatic place to visit. Our voyage on the Niger recalls the journeys of the early explorers and we will see few Western visitors during our time on the river.

Additionally, Mali offers us the chance to see a wide cross-section of West African birds and other wildlife, from colourful Senegal Parrots, Violet Turacos and Abyssinian Rollers to Northern Carmine Bee-eaters, Yellow-crowned Gonoleks and the emblematic Egyptian Plover. The inland delta of the Niger is one of the most important wetland sites in Africa and supports a density and diversity of birds sufficient to whet any birder’s appetite, alongside healthy populations of Hippopotamus and Nile Crocodile.

From the capital Bamako we travel north to S?gou, the old French colonial capital, through a well-wooded landscape dotted with small villages and quaint mud mosques. Roadside birds are likely to include Grasshopper Buzzard, Brown Snake Eagle, Fox Kestrel, both Grey and Red-billed Hornbills and the bizarre little Piapiac, which often rides on the backs of cattle. At Djenn?, with its winding medieval streets, we will visit the spectacular Grand Mosque, reputedly the largest mud building in the world and at Mopti, a busy trading town at the confluence of the Bani and Niger Rivers, we will have the opportunity to explore the extraordinarily colourful and bustling market and harbour area.

From Mopti we head east to ‘Pays Dogon’s and the dramatic Bandiagara escarpment. As we approach Dogon country we will see fewer and fewer mosques as these remarkable people have retained their traditional animist/fetishist religion, rituals and culture despite hundreds of years of Muslim and colonialist intrusion. We will visit several Dogon villages in the talus slopes at the foot of the cliffs and learn about their customs and traditions. A wide range of exciting birds associated with the escarpment and the surrounding savannah include Stone Partridge, Bearded Barbet, Green Wood-hoopoe, Fine-spotted Woodpecker, Cliff Chat, Neumann’s Starling and the restricted Kulikouro Firefinch, a virtual Malian endemic.

Leaving Dogon country we continue our journey northwards through increasingly arid landscapes towards Douentza and Timbuktu. These wide open acacia-studded grasslands are home to the Fulani, a tribe of nomadic herdsmen, and provide us with an opportunity to see Chestnut-bellied Sandgrouse, Northern Anteater-chat, various wheatears and larks and perhaps, most excitingly, the small population of Elephants that migrate through this region each year. Finally we reach Timbuktu, the fabled city, where we will visit the famous Jinguereber Mosque and the houses used by the early European explorers Laing, Caille and Barth. In the market we may see the slabs of salt brought down from northern Mali by some of the last working camel trains in the world.

From Timbuktu we embark on a 3-day voyage up the Niger, chugging sedately through an endless wide-open tapestry of water, sky, marshland and desert punctuated by neat mud-brick villages and mosques. The human activity along the river is constantly fascinating and the birdlife is both rich and varied. Pied Kingfishers are numerous, African Fish Eagles soar overhead and Senegal Coucals bubble atmospherically from the reedbeds. Senegal Thick-knees and Egyptian Plovers are a regular sight along the riverbank and colourful Yellow-crowned Bishops buzz over the marshes against a backdrop of huge wheeling flocks of Redbilled Queleas. Add to this vast flocks of wintering waders and wildfowl, a host of herons and egrets, and that ever-present possibility of a Hippopotamus or a crocodile and you have a rich feast indeed!

Finally we arrive back in Mopti with our extraordinary Malian odyssey drawing to a close. As we make our way back to Bamako we can reflect on what will surely be one of the most memorable trips of our lives.

We currently don’t have any images for this tour. If you have any suitable image you would like published then please email us.

L.G.
Somerset
Andy Smith set out to get the best out of the ground agent and communicate our needs to amiable local guide, Mohammed. Andy was indefatigable as a birding guide, natural with ordinary locals and an entertaining companion. The drivers and boat crew were all good-dignified, safe, polite, honest and punctual. Hotel and boat bookings and connections all worked. Vehicles were in good order. I chose this holiday because I am interested in culture, history, literature, landscape and wildlife equally. I will always look for holidays with a bit of a mixture like this.
I.P.
Essex
Andy Smith was fantastic as a leader. He was very good at birds and making sure everyone could see them. His expertise in this respect was second to none. He was excellent at co-ordinating everything and everyone and making sure all were catered for. He was also good at explaining what we were about to do at every turn and making sure everyone understood….in fact as a leader I could not have asked for more. Excellent in every way. The whole trip was well organised and extremely varied. With magnificent scenery and always changing. The accommodation was certainly the best available…the tents were excellent…the drivers were all very good indeed, both at handling the vehicles over difficult and varied terrain, but also in keeping them clean both inside and out. Our local guide Mohammed was also excellent at helping and explaining and always able to answer the numerous questions that the group asked. And for me personally always a helping hand when on difficult ground. Needless to say I had a super time and thoroughly enjoyed the entire trip.
C.R.
Devon
I want to express my appreciation for he great contribution of our leader, Andy Smith, in making this trip so enjoyable. His birding skills were superb and, more importantly, he is able to transmit knowledge in a lively and interesting way, always appropriate to his audience, whatever their own skills level. He is endowed with good humour, patience and common sense, and has the knack of making all group members feel included…
A.F.
Norfolk
The tour exceeded my expectations in every respect. One of the best I’ve done.
C.R.
Devon
I want to express my appreciation for he great contribution of our leader, Andy Smith, in making this trip so enjoyable. His birding skills were superb and, more importantly, he is able to transmit knowledge in a lively and interesting way, always appropriate to his audience, whatever their own skills level. He is endowed with good humour, patience and common sense, and has the knack of making all group members feel included…
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We will be running this tour in the near future but as yet have not finalised dates and prices. To register your interest and be added a waiting list to be informed when details are confirmed, please contact us or phone 01962 733051.

Visiting: Mali

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01962 733051

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Tour Reviews

Andy Smith set out to get the best out of the ground agent and communicate our needs to amiable local guide, Mohammed. Andy was indefatigable as a birding guide, natural with ordinary locals and an entertaining companion. The drivers and boat crew were all good-dignified, safe, polite, honest and punctual. Hotel and boat bookings and connections all worked. Vehicles were in good order. I chose this holiday because I am interested in culture, history, literature, landscape and wildlife equally. I will always look for holidays with a bit of a mixture like this.
L.G., Somerset