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.
|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).|
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.
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.
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.