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Mali Travel Guide - Travel S Helper


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Mali is a landlocked nation in West Africa. Its official name is the Republic of Mali (French: République du Mali). Mali is Africa’s eighth-largest country, with little more than 1,240,000 square kilometers (480,000 sq mi). Mali has a population of 14.5 million people. Bamako is the capital. Mali is divided into eight regions, and its northern boundaries extend deep into the Sahara Desert, while the country’s southern area, where the majority of the population lives, is bounded by the Niger and Senegal rivers. Agriculture and fishing are the mainstays of the country’s economy. Mali’s notable natural resources include gold (the country is the third greatest producer of gold on the African continent) and salt. Around half of the population lives on less than $1.25 (USD) per day, the international poverty level. The bulk of Muslims (55 percent) are non-denominational.

Mali was formerly a member of three West African empires that dominated trans-Saharan trade: the Ghana Empire, the Mali Empire (after which Mali was called), and the Songhai Empire. Mathematics, astronomy, literature, and art flourished throughout its golden period. At its height in 1300, the Mali Empire included a territory almost twice the size of modern-day France and extended all the way to Africa’s west coast. During the Scramble for Africa in the late nineteenth century, France took control of Mali, including it into French Sudan. French Sudan (formerly known as the Sudanese Republic) merged with Senegal in 1959, becoming the Mali Federation in 1960. Following Senegal’s exit from the federation, the Sudanese Republic proclaimed independence as the Republic of Mali. Following a lengthy era of one-party control, a coup in 1991 resulted in the creation of a new constitution and the emergence of Mali as a democratic, multi-party state.

An armed conflict erupted in northern Mali in January 2012, which Tuareg rebels gained control of by April and announced the independence of a new state, Azawad. The crisis was exacerbated by a military coup in March and subsequent combat between Tuareg and Islamist rebels. In January 2013, the French military started Opération Serval in reaction to Islamist territory advances. A month later, Malian and French soldiers had retaken the majority of the north. Presidential elections were conducted on July 28, 2013, with a second round run-off on August 11, and parliamentary elections on November 24 and December 15, 2013.

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Mali - Info Card




West African CFA franc (XOF)

Time zone



1,240,192 km2 (478,841 sq mi)

Calling code


Official language


Mali - Introduction


The climate of the nation varies from tropical savannah (trees and grass, with tree density increasing as one goes south) to dry desert in the north, with the Sahel in between. Droughts are common throughout most of the nation because of the lack of rainfall. The rainy season runs from late May or early June (depending on where you are in the country) through mid or late October or early November. Flooding of the Niger River is frequent at this period, resulting in the Inner Niger Delta. From early November to early February, there is a colder time after the rainy season, when many plants are still green. The hot, dry season lasts from mid-February until the rains arrive in May or June, with daytime temperatures peaking in March and April. The weather is hot and dry at this time of year.


Mali is a West African landlocked nation situated southwest of Algeria. It is located between 10° and 25° north latitude and 13° and 5° east longitude. Mali is bordered on the north by Algeria, on the east by Niger, on the south by Burkina Faso and Côte d’Ivoire, on the west by Senegal and Mauritania, and on the south-west by Guinea.

Mali is the world’s 24th biggest nation, with 1,242,248 square kilometers (479,635 square miles), including the disputed area of Azawad. It is about the same size as South Africa or Angola. The southern Sahara Desert covers the majority of the nation, resulting in a very hot and dusty Sudanian savanna zone. Mali is mainly flat, rising to sand-covered undulating northern plains. In the northeast, the Adrar des Ifoghas massif may be found.

Mali is located in the arid zone and is one of the world’s hottest nations. The nation is crossed by the thermal equator, which corresponds to the warmest places on the globe year-round based on the mean daily yearly temperature. The majority of Mali gets little rain, and droughts are common. The rainy season in the southernmost region runs from late June to early December. Flooding of the Niger River is frequent at this period, resulting in the Inner Niger Delta. Mali’s wide northern desert region has a hot desert climate (Köppen climatic classification (BWh) with lengthy, very hot summers and little rainfall that diminishes as one travels north. The central region has a hot semi-arid climate (Köppen climatic classification (BSh) with extremely high temperatures all year, a lengthy, severe dry season, and sporadic rains. The climate in the small southern band is tropical wet and dry (Köppen climatic classification (Aw) with extremely high temperatures all year and a dry and rainy season.

Gold, uranium, phosphates, kaolinite, salt, and limestone are the most extensively exploited natural resources of Mali. Mali’s uranium reserves are expected to be in excess of 17,400 tonnes (measured + indicated + inferred). A new uranium-mineralized north zone was discovered in 2012. Mali is confronted with a number of environmental issues, including desertification, deforestation, soil erosion, and a lack of drinkable water.


Mali’s population was projected to be 14.5 million in July 2009. Malians are mostly rural (68 percent in 2002), and 5–10 percent of the population is nomadic. More than 90% of the population resides in the south of the nation, particularly in Bamako, which has a population of over one million people.

In 2007, about 48 percent of Malians were under the age of 12, 49 percent were between the ages of 15 and 64, and 3 percent were 65 and over. The average age of the participants was 15.9 years. In 2014, the birth rate was 45.53 per 1,000, while the total fertility rate was 6.4 children per woman in 2012. In 2007, there were 16.5 fatalities per 1,000 people. The average life expectancy at birth was 53.06 years (51.43 for males and 54.73 for females). Mali has one of the worst infant mortality rates in the world, with 106 fatalities per 1,000 live births in 2007.


Mali’s population is made up of people from several sub-Saharan ethnic groupings. The Bambara (Bambara: Bamanankaw) are the biggest ethnic group in the country, accounting for 36.5 percent of the population.

The Bambara, Soninké, Khassonké, and Malinké (also known as Mandinka), all members of the Mandégroup, account for half of Mali’s population. The Fula (French: Peul; Fula: Fule) (17%), Voltaic (12%), Songhai (6%), and Tuareg and Moor (3% each) are other important tribes (10 percent).

Due to the historical expansion of slavery in the area, there is a divide in the far north between Berber-descendent Tuareg nomad groups and the darker-skinned Bella or Tamasheq people. Slave descendants account for an estimated 800,000 individuals in Mali. Slavery has existed in Mali for millennia. Slavery was maintained by the Arabic people long into the twentieth century, until it was abolished by French authorities during the mid-century. Certain generational slavery connections still exist, and some estimates suggest that around 200,000 Malians are still enslaved today.

Although Mali has had relatively excellent inter-ethnic relations based on a long history of cohabitation, there is considerable hereditary slavery and bondage, as well as ethnic conflict between the settled Songhai and the nomadic Tuaregs in the north. Following a reaction against the northern population following independence, Mali is currently in a position where both groups accuse the other of discrimination. This dispute also plays a part in the ongoing Northern Mali war, which pits Tuaregs against the Malian government, as well as Tuaregs against extremist Islamists attempting to impose sharia law.


In the 11th century, Islam was brought to West Africa, and it is now the dominant religion in most of the area. Around 90% of Malians are Muslims (mainly Sunni and Ahmadiyya), 5% are Christians (around two-thirds Roman Catholic and one-third Protestant), and the other 5% practice indigenous or traditional animist beliefs. Atheism and agnosticism are said to be uncommon among Malians, who devote their lives to their faith.

The constitution creates a secular state and guarantees religious freedom, which the government generally upholds.

Islam has always been moderate, tolerant, and adaptable to local circumstances in Mali, and relations between Muslims and adherents of other religious faiths have been usually cordial.

However, after the installation of sharia law in northern Mali in 2012, the nation was ranked high (number 7) in Open Doors’ Christian Persecution Index, which characterized the persecution in the north as severe.


The official language is French, although 80 percent of the population speaks Bambara (or Bamanakan in the language), as well as a variety of other African languages (Peulh/Fula, Dogon, and Tamashek, the Tuareg language). Outside of major cities, few people speak French, and Bambara is becoming more uncommon in certain areas. Only a few individuals are able to communicate in English.


It is important to greet individuals. You should learn how to welcome people in French or, better yet, in Bambara. Even if you just purchase fruit or bread, vendors should be treated with respect. It’s crucial to demonstrate an overall interest in the other person, so inquire about their family, job, children, and so on. “A va” (It’s all right) is the easy response. The interlocutor should not provide a negative response!

  • “Bonjour. ça va?” (Good morning. Are you all right)?
  • “Et votre famille?” (And your family?)
  • “Et vos enfants?” (And your kids?)
  • “Et votre travail?” (And your job?).

Entry Requirements For Mali

Visa & Passport

Citizens of Algeria, Andorra, Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Chad, Côte d’Ivoire, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Mauritania, Monaco, Morocco, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Togo, and Tunisia are not needed to get a visa. To enter Mali from any other country, a visa must be acquired before to arrival.

To get a visa, you’ll need an invitation (a copy of your hotel bookings or a letter from your employer stating why you’re going). The cost is USD131 for US residents, regardless of the duration of stay (up to 5 years). A visa costs USD80 (3 months, single entrance), USD110 (3 months, multiple entry), USD200 (6 months, multiple entry), and USD370 for other nationals (1 year, multiple entry).

How To Travel To Mali

Get In - By plane

Air France flies nonstop from Paris Charles de Gaulle to Bamako on a daily basis (and return). Royal Air Maroc is a bit less expensive than Air France and offers daily flights from Europe and the United States to Casablanca, Morocco. Smaller airlines, such as Point Afrique, provide low-cost flights to and from Mali during the peak tourist season. Because both Air France and RAM arrive and leave in the middle of the night, it may be worth paying for a good hotel the first night, where you may make genuine bookings and perhaps even be picked up at the airport, even if you are on a cheap trip. TAP Portugal has just begun to fly from Lisbon on a regular basis.

Ethiopian Carriers, Air Mauritania, Tunisair, Air Afriqiya, and a slew of other African and pan-African airlines fly into Mali. Some of these airlines also provide special Mopti connections.

Bamako’s airport is approximately a 20-minute drive from the city center. Taxis to various areas of town have set prices; to locate them, cross the road in front of the airport and go to the right-hand end of the block of kiosks. You’ll see a gathering of cab drivers and a pricing board. The price was XOF7,500 in August 2007. (c. USD15).

If you know enough of the local language, you may be able to negotiate the official fee down to XOF4,000 or perhaps XOF3,000, particularly if you come during the day. However, make sure you use an approved cab (see the Stay Safe section below). There’s even a well-hidden restaurant: go beyond the barrier and it’ll be on the right, surrounded by woods, approximately 50 meters from the terminal building. They’re extremely kind people who offer simple yet full and delicious food. Try bargaining hard for a cost that is much less than the fixed prices for the airport to Bamako on your way back to the airport from Bamako.

If you’re flying Royal Air Maroc, be aware that the airport in Casablanca has a reputation for opening checked baggage and taking valuables. Luggage may also be late.

People will attempt to force you into unlicensed cabs and money exchanges, like they do at many other airports, and some will even let you inside the terminal itself. They should be avoided.

Get In - By car

There are many options for getting to Mali by vehicle.

The most popular routes are from Senegal and Burkina Faso, particularly after the Dakar-Bamako trains ceased operations. The route from Gao to Niamey has just been resurfaced, and a bridge is being constructed in Gao, allowing the whole trip from Niamey to Bamako to be completed on paved (if not isolated) roads.

There are also good land crossings from Mauritania (which has recently been paved) and Guinea. The Ivoirian border goes into a rebel-controlled area of northern Cote d’Ivoire and, although somewhat secure, will take you past numerous checkpoints and “officials” demanding bribes; if traveling to southern Cote d’Ivoire, you’re better off passing via Burkina Faso and Ghana.

A distant desert crossing into Algeria at Tessalit exists, but it is hazardous (prone to banditry and exploited for smuggling) and remote. It may be blocked to visitors; even if it isn’t, the Algerian side is hazardous (bandits and al Qaeda fanatics!). and necessitates the presence of a military escort.

From Europe

Crossing the straits of Gibraltar, Morocco, Western Sahara, and Mauritania from Europe is required. There are no longer any issues with reaching Western Sahara through the beach route. However, you must have your vehicle and passport information ready to give over at the different checkpoints. There are now paved highways from Europe to Bamako and on to Gao (apart from 3 km at the border between Western Sahara and Mauritania).

Get In - By bus

Mali may be reached by bus straight from a number of African cities. Dakar, Ouagadougou, Abidjan, Niamey, and Accra are only a few examples.

From Europe to Mali, public transportation, whether buses or bush taxis, is available nearly the whole journey. The sole exception is the journey from Dakhla, Western Sahara, to Noudhibou, Mauritania, where you may easily get a ride with a Mauritanian merchant.

Get In - By boat

Mali has two major rivers that are navigable for at least part of the year and pass into neighboring nations, but only the Niger has many pirogues.

  • The Senegal River enters Mali from Guinea in the south and flows northwest into Senegal.
  • The Niger River flows into, you guessed it, Niger. Large boats are only active from August to November and do not go far beyond the border, while tiny pirogues routinely travel between Gao and Niamey, making several stops along the route.

How To Travel Around Mali

Get Around - By bus

The major cities along the paved route to the north are linked by bus (Bamako, Segou, San, Mopti, Gao). The south is served by a separate paved loop (Bamako, Bougouni, Sikasso, Koutiala, Segou) There are many businesses with varying timetables, but they all charge about the same amount. Normally, a trip to Mopti (600 km, half way up) takes around nine hours; a travel to Gao takes at least twelve.

However, these timings are approximate, and few bus companies would even offer you an anticipated arrival time since various drivers travel at varying speeds, and it is not uncommon for the bus to break down and need repairs, or to stop to assist another bus. It is generally possible to make a reservation several days in advance, which is advised during the tourist season, but it is seldom a problem to just turn up 30-60 minutes before the bus departs. Bittar, Bani, and Banimonotie (Sikasso area) are among the most dependable businesses.

Get Around - By taxi brousse

The “Taxi – Brousse,” or bush taxis, may be used to travel around. They serve as the primary link between communities that are not linked by bus. They are sluggish and sometimes break down or stop to assist other taxis that have broken down. As a result, the trip may take longer than anticipated. Unlike buses, they seldom operate on a fixed timetable, so all you have to do is show up at the station (in a bigger town) or sit by the roadside (in smaller towns) and wait for the next one to arrive – locals may be able to give you an indication of what to anticipate.

Get Around - By taxi

Taxis are abundant in every major city, and they are generally a simple method for tourists to go where they need to go without having to figure out the local public transportation system (if one even exists). Prepare to haggle, since they will almost always attempt to overcharge you – in Bamako, XOF1,000 will get you everywhere in the city during the day (or up to XOF1,500 at night), while crossing the river would cost you XOF1,500-2,000. Also, if you don’t know where you want to go, inform the driver right away since they are seldom open about admitting they don’t know and will frequently expect you to provide instructions, particularly if the destination isn’t well-known.

Get Around - By private car

Renting a private vehicle is an excellent choice for a bigger party or those that prefer comfort above economics. If you plan on leaving the major roads, a 4×4 is highly advised (this includes the trip to Timbuktu). Outside of towns, there are relatively few asphalt roads, and they are all single-carriageway, but the majority are in excellent shape. One runs towards the country’s north (Bamako, Segou, San, Mopti, Gao), another branches off after Segou to bridge the Niger at the Markala dam and continue as far as Niono, and a third goes from Bamako to Sikasso and then into Ivory Coast. There are some private individuals who hire out their 4×4 vehicles for a trip (in which case make sure you have insurance, a carnet de passage, and enough of gas), but hiring a car usually implies renting a car with a driver. This is highly advised since Malian roads and drivers are unpredictable, and cars are unreliable (it’s best to have the driver find out what that loud rattling is or why the engine began burning!).

Business travelers and leisure tourists alike may find it challenging to navigate inside Bamako. Renting a vehicle with a chauffeur is one of the finest choices. This is something that can be done on a day-by-day basis and is a huge assistance for someone who is new to the city. It becomes challenging to depend on the local taxi system while attempting to visit several locations in one day. The chauffeur is a local and will be familiar with the majority of the locations you need to see. There is no need to worry about locating a parking space since the chauffeur will wait for you while you attend to your business

Get Around - By plane

Traveling throughout Mali by aircraft is now feasible, thanks to a slew of new businesses that have popped up in recent years. Mopti, Timbuktu, Kayes, Yelimané, Gao, Kidal, Sadiola, and other cities may be reached by air (typically from Bamako).

Typically, Czech turboprops (LET-410s) and small Russian jetliners are used (Yakovlev YAK-40s). Air travel in Mali is quick yet costly when compared to taking the bus. It is not, however, failsafe; you are often at the mercy of the airline, which may decide not to fly on a certain day if there are insufficient passengers! Tickets are usually available at the airport prior to flights, however booking beforehand is the best option.

The two most popular and dependable carriers are Société Transport Aerienne (STA) and Société Avion Express (SAE).

Get Around - By boat

It is possible to travel around Mali by boat, although this is only feasible at certain times of the year. A barge to/from Timbuktu is the most popular method, although it’s only truly feasible during the rainy season. There are also extremely tiny boats, referred known as “pirogues” in French, that may be rented nearly everywhere and are basically big canoes. You can still hire a pinasse while the larger boats aren’t operating (like a big, motorised pirogue). Alternatively, you may use one of the public pinasses. These will continue for another three months or so until the water levels get too low. The river can be navigated all the way from Bamako to Gao, but the water lowers more quickly between Bamako and Mopti.

Destinations in Mali

Regions in Mali

Southern Mali

  • Kayes
  • Koulikoro – Because it contains the capital, Bamako, it is by far Mali’s most populated province.
  • Mopti – The majority of Mali’s travel treasures are centered in this region: Hombori’s distinctive rock formations, Djenné’s architecture, and Dogon Country’s magnificent escarpment settlements.
  • Segou
  • Sikasso

Northern Mali

  • Gao – This area, which borders Niger, is home to ethnic Songhai, Tuareg, Tadaksahak, and Zarma groups. Dry, although not as arid as some of the northern states.
  • Kidal – The extremely distant annual Saharan Nights celebration in Essouk, Mali’s most isolated Saharan area, with a tiny community of Tuareg nomads.
  • Timbuktu (Tombouctou) – The village is a unique Tuareg desert trade hub, and close is the wonderful Festival of the Desert in Essakane, so the name isn’t the only incentive to go.

Cities in Mali

  • Bamako — Bamako is the bustling capital and biggest city in Mali, as well as Africa’s fastest expanding metropolis, having a strong claim to be the music capital of the continent.
  • Gao — Gao is a tiny city in the extreme east of the nation on the Niger River, which was formerly the capital of the Songhai Empire and is now home to the Tomb of Askia.
  • Kayes — Mali’s westernmost major city, located near the Senegalese border, is well renowned for being Africa’s hottest continually inhabited place.
  • Kidal — Kidal is a rural Tuareg city known for being a hotbed of Tuareg insurgency and Al Qaeda involvement.
  • Mopti — Mopti is a city in the middle of the Niger River that spans three islands and serves as the entrance to Dogon Country.
  • Ségou — The Bamana Empire’s former capital and Mali’s third biggest city.
  • Sikasso — The capital of the Kénédougou Empire and Mali’s second biggest city.
  • Timbuktu — The fabled Saharan city of gold, trans-Saharan commerce, and Islamic learning is today a (quite commercialized) cultural center for the Tuaregs.

Other destinations in Mali

  • Adrar des Ifoghas — a sandstone plateau in the Sahara with rock art, centuries-old salt mines, and an unusual variety of animals
  • Dogon Country —Any tourist to Mali should not miss a walk through this landscape of dispersed cliff-side settlements. The world-famous Bandiagara Escarpment has been designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
  • Djenné — This tiny village of multi-story mud structures, formerly a religious and economic center to rival Timbuktu, is certainly a sight. UNESCO designated it as a World Heritage Site. With its smooth texture, rounded contours, and melancholy coloration, seeing Djenné from a rooftop provides an interesting and distinctive scene. It also has the world’s biggest mosque, which is entirely constructed of mud and is repaired by the community every year following the wet season.
  • The Niger Inland Delta is a large floodplain where the Niger River divides into numerous tributaries, forming a massive lake on the outskirts of the desert during the wet season.

Accommodation & Hotels in Mali

There are a variety of lodging choices available, each with its own price and quality. You may expect to spend USD60-100 per night (and more) for a hotel that meets western standards of good to great. On the other hand, a bed or mattress (typically with mosquito net and linens) in a room or on the roof may be had for around USD5-10 per night.

Toilets and showers are typically in a communal facility in such locations (think camp site camping with less gear). There are hotels or auberges in every tourist location, and many sites will also have homestays. Sleeping on the roof terrace, if available, is not only the cheapest but also the most comfortable, as it allows you to sleep under the stars (which are incredibly bright outside of Bamako due to the lack of light pollution) – just bring your mosquito net and be ready to wake up to the call to prayer at 5:00 a.m.

Things To See in Mali

Sadly, during their control of Timbuktu, a radical Islamist group substantially damaged the renowned shrines of Timbuktu and the Muhave. The first wave of demolition took place in June-July 2012, and soon after the AU intervention’s plans were authorized, they promised to demolish every last mausoleum, shrine, and “blasphemous” (in their opinion) symbol News.

According to reports, Askia’s tomb in Gao has also been demolished. After the rebels are defeated, there are plans to restore these sites, but for now, Mali’s most famous destination is in ruins. It’s possible that the information on Wikivoyage, as well as most guides and other publications, hasn’t been updated since these occurrences.

The Great Mosque is the largest mosque in the world. The Great Mosque, which was built entirely of mud in 1906, has five floors and three towers. The Mosque is replastered every spring. Non-Muslims are unfortunately not permitted in. This ban seems to be the result of a fashion picture session that occurred more than ten years ago and was deemed “pornographic” by the residents.

Food & Drinks in Mali

Food in Mali

Rice with sauce (typically peanut “tiga diga na,” tomato/onion/oil, or leaf/okra based – generally with some fish or meat if bought or made for visitors) is the most ubiquitous Malian meal. Another Malian staple is “to,” a gelatinous maize or millet meal eaten with sauce, but it’s more of a rural cuisine than anything most visitors would experience. Couscous is very popular in the north.

In the larger cities, excellent “western” restaurants may be found at costs that are comparable to those in the United States. Bamako also offers excellent Chinese, Vietnamese, Italian, Lebanese, and other cuisines. The typical Malian restaurant offers chicken or beef with fries and/or salad at smaller establishments; it’s generally tasty and inexpensive, but it’s not especially Malian. Some local specialties may be available in the nicer establishments in more touristic regions. Breakfast would typically consist of omelet sandwiches, lunch will consist of rice with a few of sauces to pick from, and dinner will consist of beans, spaghetti cooked in oil with a little tomato, potatoes, fried rice, chicken, meatballs, beef kebabs, fish, and salad. Little tables may be found along the highway and at transportation hubs.

Little cakes (particularly at bus stops), different fried doughs (sweet or with spicy sauce), peanuts, roasted corn (if in season), sesame sticks, and frozen liquids in little plastic bags are among the snacks available. Fresh fruit is always tasty and readily accessible. Mangoes, papaya, watermelon, guavas, bananas, and oranges are among the finest; the specific selection depends on the season.

Of course, food borne illness is a significant worry for visitors in any tropical, impoverished nation. Untreated water (particularly in rural areas) and fruits and vegetables that have not been peeled or soaked in bleach water are the primary causes of diarrhea – salads (even in fine restaurants!) are likely to create issues. Make sure any meal (particularly meat) is properly cooked – this is more of an issue with Western restaurant food than with Malian cuisine (which are usually cooked for hours). Drink bottled water and consult your doctor about carrying an antibiotic like cipro to treat severe diarrhea that does not improve in a few days.

Drinks in Mali

Water from the tap should be regarded with caution. It is often chlorinated to such an extent that few bugs could possible live in it. Short-term tourists, on the other hand, will be safer with bottled water. There are many inexpensive local brands, but be aware that they are primarily consumed by foreigners and affluent Malians: bottled water is not available at stores frequented by “regular” Malians. Coca-Cola and Fanta are more commonly accessible and safe soft beverages.

But keep in mind that Coke will make you want to go to the bathroom, leaving you dehydrated much more than before you drank it – a major issue in this scorching nation. In little plastic bags, street sellers offer water and home-made ginger and berry beverages. They’re often iced, which keeps them cool in the summer. In general, you should not consume them without first treating them.

However, one known in French as “bissap” and in Bambara as “dabileni” (“red hybiscus”) is prepared from hibiscus blossoms that have been cooked and is usually safe to consume. It’s a very tasty non-alcoholic beverage that you shouldn’t pass up. In Bamako, purified water in tiny plastic bags for XOF50 can be purchased at most corner shops; they are considerably cheaper and, of course, more ecologically friendly than bottles.

The bags are labeled with a brand name, so don’t confuse them with the tap water sold by street sellers in unlabeled plastic bags. Sweet milk and yoghurt are also frequently marketed in this manner, and the bags are usually clean since they are industrially packed. In certain areas, fresh milk may be purchased from buckets by the roadside, but it should always be properly cooked before consuming since it might contain TB germs (often Malians do this before selling, but it is safer to do it yourself or at least ask).

Money & Shopping in Mali

Mali uses the West African CFA franc (XOF). Benin, Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Guinea-Bissau, Niger, Senegal, and Togo all use it. While technically distinct from the Central African CFA franc (XAF), the two currencies are used interchangeably at par in all nations that utilize the CFA franc (XAF & XOF).

The French Treasury backs both CFA francs, which are linked to the euro at €1 = XOF655.957.

Mali has a plethora of excellent crafts. Different ethnic groups have their own distinct masks. Musical instruments, blankets, bogolas (a kind of blanket), silver jewelry, and leather items are also available. Jewellery, daggers, spears, swords, and boxes are among the silver and leather items made by the Touareg people. Purchasing some local music is also an excellent memento, since Mali is home to some of the world’s finest artists.

History Of Mali

Mali was formerly a member of three powerful West African empires that dominated trans-Saharan commerce in gold, salt, slaves, and other valuables. There were no fixed geographical borders or ethnic identities in these Sahelian kingdoms. The Ghana Empire, which ruled West Africa from the eighth century until 1078, was the first of these empires.

Later, in the upper Niger, the Mali Empire arose, reaching its pinnacle of strength in the fourteenth century. The ancient towns of Djenné and Timbuktu were centers of commerce and Islamic study under the Mali Empire. Because to the Malian Empire’s gold and salt output, Mansa Musa, who reigned in the early 14th century, is considered the richest person in history (estimated at $400 billion adjusted for inflation!). He utilized his riches to construct some of the country’s most magnificent mosques, which may still be found today. The empire eventually fell out of favor, and the Songhai Empire took its place. The Songhai people are from present-day Nigeria’s northwestern region. The Songhai eventually achieved independence from the Mali Empire in the late 14th century and flourished until its ultimate fall in 1591, mainly owing to a Moroccan invasion. With the collapse of the Songhai Empire, the region’s function as a trade crossroads came to an end. The importance of trans-Saharan trade routes faded as European nations established maritime connections.

Beginning in the late 19th century, the French took control of Mali during the colonial period. The majority of the region was under strong French authority as part of French Sudan by 1905. Mali (formerly the Sudanese Republic) and Senegal merged in early 1959 to become the Mali Federation, which declared independence from France on June 20, 1960. Senegal left the union in August 1960, allowing the Sudanese Republic to establish Mali as an independent country on September 22, 1960.

Stay Safe & Healthy in Mali

Stay Safe in Mali

Because Mali is politically fragile, lawlessness is widespread. Mali was struck by a political crisis and civil war in June 2012, temporarily dividing the nation into two parts: the north, known as “Azawad,” and held by a group of Islamist rebels, and the south, which was ruled by a military junta. Traveling through Timbuktu and Gao provinces is especially hazardous, and Islamist rebel groups have ordered the destruction of any sites suspected of involving idolatry as of July 2012. The United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom have all issued travel warnings advising against all travel to Mali at this time.

The train between Bamako and Kayes is infamous for theft, so if you’re riding it, use great care, bring a pocket flashlight, and keep your goods and valuables on your person at all times.

There’s also a high possibility you’ll run into the cops. They are mainly concerned with directing traffic and fining individuals for incorrect documents, so you have nothing to worry from them, but have a copy of your passport and visa with you at all times (and preferably the original if keep it secure).

Only having a driver’s license is insufficient, and you may be taken to the police station unless you bribe your way out. It’s worth noting that the police in Bamako often stop taxis, but this may be mitigated by never having more than four people in the vehicle and only using “official” taxis (the ones with the red plates only: in Bamako, a car with white plates is not an official taxi even if it has a taxi sign on top, regardless of what the driver may tell you).

Because the shadowy coalition of Al Qaeda and Tuareg rebel groups has been targeting foreigners for kidnappings, the northeast half of Mali (anything north and east of Mopti Province) is just not secure for tourism. Unfortunately, similar kidnappings happened in other areas of the nation (including the capital) in late 2011, and terrorists abduction tourists remains a serious worry.

Despite the fact that homosexuality is legal in Mali, a 2007 study by the Pew Global Attitudes Project found that 98 percent of Malians think homosexuality is a way of life that should be shunned, a comparable percentage to Kenya and Egypt. When it comes to public displays of love, LGBT travelers should be cautious.

Stay Healthy in Mali


Although it is seldom enforced, having an overseas vaccination card proving yellow fever immunization is legally needed. Vaccinations against Hepatitis A, B, typhoid, and meningitis are also advised. Due to a recent polio epidemic in Northern Nigeria that has expanded across the area, you may also want to consider having a polio vaccine.


Malaria is prevalent in Mali, particularly the most severe form, s. falciparum malaria. Malaria prophylaxis should be taken by all visitors during their stay in Mali (mephloquine and Malarone are the most common). Other important measures include using insect repellent in the evenings and sleeping beneath a mosquito net in all but the most luxurious, sealed, air-conditioned hotels.

Because the mosquitoes that transmit the parasite are only active at night, this will substantially reduce your chance of contracting malaria. However, you should take these measures even if you are not at risk of contracting malaria to prevent getting bitten by irritating mosquitos! During the day, you will virtually never see or be disturbed by mosquitoes.

Food and water

Keep your distance from soiled food and drink. The rule of thumb is to “boil it, peel it, or forget it.” Also, never drink water from sealed bottles or after sterilizing it with boiling or chemical equipment. Another problem is the food. It may be tough to tell whether something has been cooked long enough. Unusual spices, which are unfamiliar to Westerners, may also induce illness, particularly diarrhea. Expect little stones or grit in your dinner, particularly if you’re eating local couscous (this doesn’t imply it’s dangerous, since it’s been cooked properly).

The most serious threat to a traveller is diarrhea. Get plenty of rest, drink plenty of clean water, and eat soft, simple meals if you have moderate diarrhea. Antibiotics may be required if the diarrhea is severe or lasts many days. The body will lose a lot of water and salt throughout the sickness. Coca-Cola (sugar and water) and pretzel sticks (salt) are readily accessible and perform an excellent job of restoring vigor to travelers. There are also quick powders available that include the required glucose and salts.



South America


North America

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With a population of 1.8 million people, Bamako is Mali’s capital and biggest city. It was considered in 2006 to be Africa’s fastest growing...