Mali occupies the heart of a territory that once supported Africa’s greatest empires and is rich with historical resonance. This history bequeathed to Mali some of its most dramatic attractions – the legendary city of Timbuktu (Tombouctou), whose name has never lost its allure for travellers, the gloriously improbable mosque at Djenné and the bustling river port of Mopti are simply three among many.
Mali’s history has always been a story of its deserts and rivers. The lucrative trade routes of the Sahara once made the region among the world’s richest, and the Niger, one of the grand old rivers of Africa, is still the lifeblood of the country; to journey along the Niger River route (preferably on a slow boat to Timbuktu) is one of the continent’s great adventures.
But all of Mali is alive with a fascinating cultural mix of peoples, from the nomadic Tuareg people of the Sahara to the Niger fishing societies of the Bozo to the Dogon people clinging to the cliffs of the Falaise de Bandiagara. As a result, everywhere you go there are fascinating ceremonies, world-famous musical traditions with strong roots in the local soil, and traditional cultures as accessible to travellers as any you’ll find in Africa.
West Africa travel guide
West Africa has cachet and soul. Home to African landscapes of our imaginations and inhabited by an astonishing diversity of traditional peoples, this is Africa as it once was.
Dewgal (Crossing of the Cattle): a celebration of greener pastures
Moschee von Djenné by qiv. Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3...
Mali destination guides
Festival in the Desert: tips for visiting Mali's premier music festival
'Festival au Desert near Timbuktu, Mali 2012' by Alfred Weidinger. Creative Commons Attribution This is an excerpt from Lonely Planet's A Year of Festivals...
Travel literature review: To Timbuktu
To Timbuktu by Casey Scieszka & Steven Weinberg Rating: 4 out of 5 Reviewed by Steve Waters When I last passed through Tombouctou, <cough> several decades ago, there was sand in the bread, sand in the rice, sand in the coffee and sand in the beer...