Mali is located in the western part of the African continent with a population of over 20 million people. It is the largest western African country and was also the first black empire on the African continent. The country is believed to have been founded by Mansa Musa who made a pilgrimage to Mecca with over 12000 slaves and he went on to construct a mosque with each stop he made during the journey. With all the rich history that follows this West African country, Mali is today considered to be one of the poorest countries in the whole world with almost 80% of her population earning less than a dollar every day.
The country is a home to many tribes that all live in the different parts of the country and these include the Fulani, the Dogons, the Tellem among others and although they speak different languages, they are united by their official language which is French due to their former colonialists from France.
Of recent the country has been facing a turmoil over Islamists who have been attacking the different parts of the country and this has greatly made the country unstable but this does not mean that the country has no tourist attractions that are worth visiting. Mali has a rich culture that should be experienced by everyone and when you add on the historical sites that are found in the country, your trip is guaranteed to be the best on the African continent.
Due to the fact that most of the locals do not speak English, it is advisable that you go with a tour guide who will help with the translations and also help you get around the country easily. It is however advisable that before you travel to Mali for a trip, you first check with the tour operators to find out if it is safe to actually travel to the country.
Tourist attractions and things to do in Mali
Mali has a lot of tourist attractions that are just waiting to be explored and when you get to these tourist attractions, you will find that there are quite a number of activities that you can carry out while here and below is a list of what you should not miss out when you decide to take a trip to Mali.
The National Park of Mali
The National Park of Mali is located in the Capital city of Mali that is Bamako and one of the top tourist attractions due to its strategic location which makes it easily accessible. The National park was commissioned by His Excellency Aga Khan with some of the best services in the country. The National Park has two restaurants from where you can get some of the best dishes both local and international, it has a tea room form where you can rest, a playground for all those that travel with their children and a medicine garden where locals get most of the medicine that they use to heal their ailments. It is the perfect place for one to rest as they enjoy nature and some of the activities that you can engage in while here include jogging, taking a nature walk around the medicine garden, cycling even though you do not have a tour guide with you and doing some birding due to the presence of the various bird species that habitate within the Park.
The tomb of Askia
This is inform of a pyramid and it is where the remains of Askia Mohammad are found and the remains were placed in a 56 feet tall tomb. There are two mosques that were built at the entrance of the pyramid and the reason as to why you should visit the tomb is to learn more about the history of the country which is embedded in the area. And although the tomb now has electricity and other modern facilities installed, it still has that ancient look to it that makes it unique from its surroundings.
The national museum of Mali
The National museum of Mali was constructed in the year 1953 and it is known to be the best museum in the whole of western Africa. The museum has over 3000 exhibits that are on display for the visitors and all these date back to the colonial times, the Stone Age era and the current Mali. It is one of the best ways to travel back in time and experience some ancient times through a camera and other artefacts like knives that were used a long time ago.
Go for cultural visits in Mali
Mali is known to be rich in culture and one of the best ways to experience this culture is by heading out to the different villages where the locals stay and mingling with them. You will get to see how they live in their day to day lives and you will also be entertained through the dancing and songs that they present to the guests who visit them. you will however need a tour guide with you as you go for the village tours for easy communication between you and the locals and to also reduce on the tension of meeting new people.
The Boucle de Baoule National park
This is one of the best parks that you should visit while in Mali and due to the fact that it has a permanent water supply, it is a home to numerous animals and birds and a vast vegetation that add onto the beauty of the Park. Some of the animals that you should look out for while in the park include elephants, giraffes, hippos, leopards, buffalos and many more others. The best time for one to visit the Boude de Boule National Park is during the dry season and you will also get to see the pristine vegetation even during the dry season because of the water bodies that are found in the Park.
The Djenne city
The Djenne city is known to be the best historical city both in Mali and the whole world. It is an Island that is found floating along the Bani River and the reason as to why it is ranked the best historical city is because there are remains of the oldest settlements of human kind that date back to 250BC. It has also the oldest mosque which is known as the Grand mosque constructed in 1906 and there are also mud wattled buildings that have been in the area for quite long time that is over a century. Go to Djenne city and get to shop for some souvenirs from the different shops located in the area, visit the locals and get to know more about their culture and not forgetting the Nana Wangara well which is considered to be sacred by the locals.
Mopti is a town in Mali that is best visited by tourists who have a great love for shopping. It is a place that joins the different ethnic groups in the country that is the Fulani, the Tuareg, the Dogons and the Songhai as they all gather in one place to sell their merchandize which runs from food stuff, clothes, crafts and so many other things. After shopping from one of the largest markets in the country, you can still go down to the Misire mosque and get a guided tour of the place.
The Gouina falls
Also known as the Niagara Falls of Mali, the Gouina falls are one of the tallest waterfalls in the country rising to about 16 meters and spreading to a width of 500 meters. The waterfalls create a beautiful scenery as they fall into the sandstone below that you should not miss out on seeing while a trip to Mali and once there you will get to see the potholes that are almost two meters deep above the waterfalls and these are evident in both the rainy and dry season. It is a good place to take a hike and also relax with your family as you enjoy a picnic and take photos.
Timbuktu is the trade Centre for Mali and many businesses are found in the town and besides being the trading Centre it is also an Arabic city where you will find many mosques that are worth visiting and it also has a lot of historical sites that you should check out once you decide to visit Mali for a safari.
The cliff of Bandiagara
The cliff of Bandiagara is also known as the land of Dogons and this is because it has been a home to the Dogons for quite a long time and they can be found on one side of the cliff still living in the ancient times as though civilization has never reached them. It is also however a home to the one of the oldest tribes in Mali that is the Tellem who have been living in the area for a very long time. You will also get to see many traditional huts that are scattered all over the cliff where the locals live. Some of the things that you can do and see while here include:
- The Hombori Mountain
This is the tallest Mountain in Mali rising to height of 366 meters above sea level and you can go out for a hike to the peak of the Mountain where you will get a clear view of the whole cliff.
The capital city, Bamako
As the Centre of all political businesses and other important government assets, the capital city of Mali Bamako is also a tourist destination on its own. It is a one stop Center for all tourists who fly into the country, a place where you can go shopping due to the presence of several markets in the area, it has botanical gardens from where you can rest and it is also a home to some of the best cave paintings in the country which can easily be explored due to their easy access.
Best time to visit Mali
Mali experiences the dry season between the months of November to February and the rainy season comes in from the month of June to September. Many tourists prefer travelling to the country during the dry season and this is the best time to go to Mali. It is also fine to travel to Mali during the rainy season when the vegetation in the country is blooming but due to the rains some of the roads will be cut off and it will be hard to carry out some activities like photography. Although it is also better to note that sometimes the activities that you want to carry out while in the country highly determine the best time for your visit.
Is it safe to travel to Mali?
Mali of recent has had some political unrest due to the Islamic group that has been torturing the Christians in the country but all in all, it is a nice country to visit.
What is the official language in Mali?
French is the official language in Mali and the more French you know the better. You will however need to learn the different languages spoken by the different tribes in the different regions.
Is the water in Mali safe for drinking?
Yes the water in Mali is safe for drinking however to be on the safe side, make sure that you purchase lots of bottled water so that you stay hydrated all throughout your stay in the country.
What should I expect if I visit Mali?
There are a lot of things that will keep you entertained while in Mali and these range from cultural tours, shopping, historical explorations to animal sightings in the country.
Why should I visit Mali now?
At the moment there are aren’t many tourists travelling to the country which means that you will not have high prices on all the services that will be rendered to you during your stay in the country.