Gao, the former capital of the Songhaï Empire, is one of the most important towns of Mali’s illustrious past. Like Timbuktu, however, Gao can feel like the end of the earth, a cluster of nomadic settlements pushed onto the Niger River’s shores by the Sahara Desert that dominates to the north. Expeditions into the desert are a highlight of a visit here, as is the lively port. Apart from anything else, to say that you’ve been 350km past Timbuktu earns pretty big traveller-cachet points.
Last updated: Feb 17, 2009