Festival in the Desert tour in Mali
16-day tour: Festival of the Desert tour in Mali
Discover the music and magic of Mali’s landscapes and people on a journey through Mali to Timbuktu festival au desert.
Bamako, Djenne, Dogon Country, Mopti, Niger River, Timbuktu and the Festival au Desert, Segou, Bamako.
Day 1: Saturday – Bamako (2016 dates TBA)
Upon arrival at the airport in Bamako, your guide is there to welcome you and accompany you to dinner. Overnight at the hotel Tamana.**
Day 2: Sunday – Bamako to Djenne
Depart in the morning from Bamako to Djenne via an air-conditioned 4x4. We will pass beautiful mud villages and meet with villagers who will explain the tradition of millet and the traditional costumes made from bazin. Lunch will be en route. Dinner and overnight stay at a hotel.**
Day 3: Monday – Djenne
You will enjoy breakfast in the lovely shaded terraces and start with a morning tour of the city of djenne, learning about its rich history. Visit the largest and most beautiful mud mosque in Africa and the world - one of many UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Mali.
Monday is the day of the colorful weekly market of djenne where you can find lovely traditional and modern fabrics. You will walk through the narrow alleys to explore the majestic Sudanese-style mud buildings. Behind each door a warm welcome awaits you.
Djenne is the ideal setting to witness the great variety of ethnic groups that inhabit the Niger River valley and the inland delta. Lunch will be in a local restaurant and the afternoon is free to enjoy the market. Stay overnight at the hotel.
Day 4: Tuesday - Djenne to Mopti
Depart for Mopti in the morning - about 2 hours drive away, where you will have a guided tour of the port city of mopti, the crossroads of trade on the Niger River. Observe dugout canoes, pirouges, and pinasses being built. You will be surprised by the elegance and unique colors of each pinasse on the niger river; this is how the city of Mopti gained the prestigious name “the Venice of Mali.”
You don't want to miss a meal of capitaine skewers, a succulent white fish and local Mopti specialty! Eat dinner and stay overnight at the hotel “Ya Pas de Problème” - the quaintly named “There is No Problem” hotel.**
Day 5: Wednesday – Mopti to Timbuktu
Morning departure by 4x4 to Timbuktu. Crossing the Niger on a boat, you will discover Songhai, Peuls and Bella villages. Picnic on the way, arrive in the early afternoon, have dinner and stay overnight at hotel Colombe.**
Day 6: Thursday to Saturday – Timbuktu and the Festival au Desert
In the morning tour of Timbuktu World Heritage of UNESCO with an historian who will unveil the rich cultures and traditions of this most famous and mysterious city of timbuktu. Discover its mosques, the center of 16th century manuscripts, the houses of early explorers, the museum, the traditional spice market, and witness the creation of handicrafts and silver jewelry.
During lunch with a Timbuktu family, you will taste a local specialty with 12 spices. Drive to the festival site in the afternoon, where we have our own encampment made from Touareg tents managed just for us.
Day 7: Friday – Festival in the Desert tour in Mali
Local musicians jam and there are gatherings to learn about the Touareg people's nomadic life. In late afternoon the concert will start under millions of stars and last into late night. Overnight under our Tourareg tent.
Day 8: Saturday – Festival in the desert tour in Mali
You can compete in the popular camel riding contest for a chance to be selected to lead a Touareg Caravan! It is a market day for the special Touareg and Timbuktu jewelry and another night time concert with many of the most popular artists from Mali.
Day 9: Sunday – Return to Timbuktu end of the festival in the desert
Rest day in Timbuktu. Overnight at the hotel.**
Days 10 - 12: Monday to Wednesday – Timbuktu to Mopti
Depart in the morning from timbuktu in a fully equipped, motorized pinnase to sail on the Niger River. We will spend three days and two nights and experience the tranquility of the niger river. We will meet Bozo fishermen, visit villages and witness the smoking of fish, see the roaming livestock, and witness petty trade while crossing Lake Debo, Mali's largest lake, where many species of migratory birds gather. Maybe we will swim with our friends the hippos!
Every night at sunset, we reach beautiful places to camp along the riverbanks in complete safety. Somehow the river will make you work up quite an appetite for fresh-caught fish, eaten sitting around the campfire under a brilliant sky of stars.
On day 12, Wednesday, arrive in Mopti in the afternoon and stay overnight at the “Ya pas de Problem” hotel.**
Days 13 - 15: Thursday to Saturday – Mopti to Dogon Country
Depart in the morning for Dogon country by way of the Bandiagara cliffs. Lunch en route. This will be a change of scenery for three days amid Dogon country villages with their unique cultures and long-held traditions.
Hike along the cliffs to meet the villagers and see the ancient dwellings of the “Tellem.” You will discover the Dogon traditions of weaving cotton to make bogolan (mud cloth) and deep blue indigo, as well as carving wooden masks and fertility statues. Each village hosts its Tougouna, a place of exchange that welcomes all village elders, called the “house of words.” Discover Dogon country cliffs, plateaus and plains through trekking. Nights are spent in safe, comfortable village encampments. On Saturday, day 15, we return to the 4x4 and depart for Segou and stay overnight at a hotel.**
Day 16: Sunday – Segou to Bamako
In a morning tour of Segou, you will have the opportunity to discover the pottery made by a cooperative of women in the market, and visit the dye house where everyone can paint a bogolan. Lunch in a local restaurant.
Depart for Bamako, about 3.5 hours drive. On arrival in Bamako, enjoy the afternoon at leisure and dinner is at a local restaurant. Your guide will transfer you to the airport for your return flight.
** Accommodations are deluxe by African standards. Actual lodging may change subject to availability.
The price of 16 days with the Festival in the Desert tour in Mali: 2080 Euros
Included on the on the tour of the festival in the desert tour in Mali:
The rental of the car and driver throughout the stay including fuel, pinasse (boat) rental, hotel and encampment overnight stays, three complete meals per day, bottled water, your guide, local guides in the cities, Festival bracelet, tourist and hotel taxes and fees.
Not included on the tour of the festival in the desert tour in mali:
International flights, visa for Mali, alcoholic beverages, laundry, personal cell and internet access costs. If you have enjoyed the tour, it is allowed to tip the guide(s) and driver.