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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.