Attend festivals and concerts

Dogon masked dancers

Mali is a truly mystical and imaginative place. Here are some of the festivals you might want to take part in:

The Festival Au Desert. Usually held during mid-January at the outskirts of the Sahara, this festival pays homage to the artistic gifts and tribal unity that has encompassed the region for more than 10 years since the very first festival back in 2001.

Expect lots of color and exotic sounds brought to you by the hosting tribes. This festival, over the years, has increased in attendance as well as artistic production value. It is a must-see event, for sure.

Festival on the Niger. Held in Segou, this festival pays homage to one of the busiest rivers in the world. The festival involves the villages located on the banks of the great Niger and offers a generous showcase of local food and beverages. This event happens between January and February.

Fête des Masques. This festival focuses on the culture and historical upbringing of the Dogon tribesmen. This five-day event features an array of different-styled masks often used in authentic Dogon rituals that date back 1,000 years.

Take a camel ride on the Sahara

For an authentic desert trek, nothing beats going through the sand dunes on your own camel. These marvelous animals have been the main means of transportation through the hot deserts of Africa for thousands of years; they have carried almost all kinds of precious oddities behind their humped backs.

Today there are camel tours being offered by different agencies to provide the hardy desert explorer a safe and fun way to travel through the desert sands.

In addition to your desert guide, these tours could include the services of a camp cook and a camel groomer. The treks take place in the early morning until just before noon, then stops during the hottest part of the day. This is a great time to socialize and take a nap after lunch. In the afternoon, the trek resumes.

The last part of the day is dinner under the stars. For sleeping, you can have a tent set up for you, though many prefer to sleep directly under the stars.

Cruise the Niger River

A good way to see more of Mali is by taking a trip down the Niger River. You can share wooden watercrafts with other backpackers and enjoy the local scenery and the fresh cool air as you cruise down the waterway.

And there is plenty of scenery to see and enjoy, for the Niger is one of the longest and most plied rivers in the entire world. Since the early days of civilization, it has provided all the villages near it with everything that a river and the trade it brings can offer. From Segou, Bamako, and Mopti, you will see long wooden boats carrying various earthen resources being transported through the river.

When you get tired or hungry, there are local restaurants and hostels located on the banks of the great river. Here you can take a much-needed nap or indulge in affordable and delectable dishes.

Buy local products

If you love to collect souvenirs, you will find a treasure trove of local crafts in Mali. For starters, the country’s ethnic groups all have their own unique local masks that would beautifully adorn a wall in your home. You can also find local musical instruments; the country is home to some of the best musicians in the world.

You can also find leather goods, silver jewelry, and sharp weapons such as swords, spears, and daggers; it would be wise to confirm, though, if you could take such things past the airport.

Explore the museums

Much of Mali’s long and colorful history has been preserved in the country’s national museums and parks. Any visitor who enters these fascinating spots would be brought back in time by the artistic pieces and artifacts of past civilizations on display.

National Museum of Mali in Bamako is quite popular among the country’s visitors. It houses a great collection of ritual objects, clothing, and musical instruments of Mali’s different ethnic groups.

The Muso Kunda Museum, also in Bamako, is another well-visited site. It is unique in that it is the only museum in Mali that has an area dedicated solely to the exhibition of art created by women. There are also exhibits of both traditional and contemporary Mali fabrics, jewelry, and everyday objects.

These two museums are easily accessible through the city’s green buses called the dourouni.

 

This article is also available in: Spanish