Festival on the Niger
Music Festival on the Niger River at Segou
Witness the must-see Festival on the Niger in Segou. Set on the river’s edge, this very popular cultural festival gathers top Malian musicians, artists, craftsmen, dance and traditional puppet troupes from across the country, celebrating Mali’s diverse cultures in the ancient Bambaran Capital.
Bamako, Djenne, Mopti, Niger River, Timbuktu and the desert, Dogon country, Segou Festival on the River Niger, Bamako.
Day 1: Saturday – Bamako (2016 dates TBA - early February)
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 Djenné
Depart in the morning from Bamako to Djenné 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 – Djenné and Mopti
You will enjoy breakfast and start with a morning tour of the city, 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 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.
Djenné is the ideal setting to witness the great variety of ethnic groups that inhabit the Niger River valley and the inland delta.
After lunch in a restaurant depart for Mopti, about 2 hours drive away, where you will have a guided tour of the port city, 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; 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.**
Days 4 to 6: Tuesday - Thursday – Mopti to Timbuktu
Depart in the morning 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 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 the sixth day, arrive in Timbuktu in the afternoon and stay overnight at the hotel Ya Ka Seme.**
Day 7: Friday – Timbuktu
Tour in the morning with a historian who will unveil the rich cultures and traditions of this most famous, mysterious city. 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. In the afternoon, depart for a camel ride in the desert. You can savor the beauty and total silence of the desert. Meet my friends the Touareg and their leader Ibrahim who will tell you the legends of the Sahara under a star-studded night sky by the fire. We will partake in traditional Touareg meals and tea, and spend the night under the dazzling stars or in a Touareg tent.
Day 8: Saturday – Timbuktu
Return to Timbuktu by camel; free afternoon in the city of 333 saints.
Dinner and overnight at the hotel Hounde Mali **.
Days 9 to 11: Sunday to Tuesday – Timbuktu to Dogon Country
Morning departure for Dogon country via the Bandiagara cliffs and Douentza. Lunch en route. Change of scenery for three days, amid Dogon villages with their unique cultures and long-held traditions. Hike along the cliffs to meet the villagers and see ancient dwellings of the “Tellem.”
You will discover the Dogon traditions of weaving cotton to make bogolan (mud cloth) as well as carving wooden masks and fertility statues. Don’t miss the opportunity to witness Dogon masked dancers on stilts performing their spectacular traditional ritual dances for you.
Each village hosts its Tougouna, a place of exchange that welcomes all village elders, called the “house of words.” Discover Dogon cliffs, plateaus and plains through trekking.
Nights are spent in safe, comfortable encampments in the village.
On day 11, with the 4x4 we drive to Mopti, and stay overnight at Ya Pas de Problem hotel.**
Day 12: Wednesday – Mopti to Ségou
Morning guided tour of Mopti: the crossroads of trade on the Niger River.
Observe dugout canoes and pinasse boats being built. You will be surprised by number of boats, the elegance and the unique colours of each pinasse; this is how the city of Mopti gained the prestigious name "the Venice of Mali."
Then we will depart for Ségou. You will marvel at the giant, luxurious baobab trees lining the roads, as well as Bambara and Bobo villages. Enjoy the French colonial and red mud architecture of the City of one thousand Balanzan trees.
Arrive in the mid-afternoon; lunch on route. Dine and stay overnight on the Niger River in a comfortable hotel.**
Day 13: Thursday – Ségou Festival
Day 14: Friday – Ségou Festival
Day 15: Saturday – Ségou Festival
Day 16: Sunday – Ségou Festival
Day 17: Monday – Ségou to Bamako
Depart for Bamako; enjoy the afternoon at leisure; dinner is at a local restaurant. Your guide will transport you to the airport for your return flight.
** Accommodations are deluxe by African standards. Actual lodging may change subject to availability.
The price for the Festival sur le Niger 17-day tour: 1950 Euros
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, tourist and hotel taxes and fees.
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.