Welcome to Mali
Yet for now, its landscapes, monuments and stories are off-limits, sealed from tourists by a conflict that is threatening the very culture of Mali.
The heart of the nation is Bamako, where Ngoni and Kora musicians play to dancing crowds from all ethnicities, while in the Dogon country villages still cling to the cliffs as they did in ancient times.
Further west, Fula women strap silver jewellery to their ears and their belongings to donkeys, forming caravans worthy of beauty pageants as they march across the hamada (dry, dusty scrubland).
And in the northeast, the writings of ancient African civilisations remain locked in the beautiful libraries of Timbuktu, until a new dawn comes for Mali, and they – and it – can be rediscovered by travellers.