• Lucie

Things You Should Know Before Visiting Mali

In my previous post I revealed my DNA results and part of it said I was 3% Malian. Personally I have never heard of the country Mali before. So I'm taking this time to educate myself about this wonderful African country.


Let's start with the basics. Mali is offically called the Republic of Mali (République du Mali) and their official language is french. Their dry season is from November to June with temperatures averaging 77°F with daytime temperature reaching as high as 113°F. Their rainy season is from June to October. Mali is bounded on the north by Algeria, on the east by Niger and Burkina Faso, on the west by Senegal and Mauritania, and on the south by Côte d’Ivoire and Guinea.


There are various ethnicities in Mali. In some cases, people marry outside their ethnic group and speak languages that differ from those of their ancestors without changing their cultural affiliation. Bambara is the most widely spoken African language in Mali. Nevertheless, several broad categories of ethnicities can be noted. North of the Niger Bend are Imazighen (Berbers, including the Tuareg, a significant subgroup) and the Arab-Spanish-Amazigh (Berber) group known as the Moors, who speak and write Arabic. Other ethnicities include Malinke, Fulani (Peul), Bobo, Soninke, Songhai, Senufo, and Dogon.


The rest of the population is composed of numerous agricultural groups, some of whom are descended from the peoples of the ancient empires of Ghana, Mali, and Songhai. The Bambara (Bamana), who live along the upper Niger River, make up the largest group. The Soninke are descended from the founders of the Ghana empire and live in the western Sahelian zone. The Malinke, bearers of the heritage of the Mali empire, live in the southwest, while the Songhai are settled in the Niger valley from Djenné to Ansongo. The Dogon live in the plateau region around Bandiagara, and the Bwa, Bobo, Senufo, and Minianka occupy the east and southeast. The Fulani (Fulbe) were traditionally nomadic pastoralists of the Sahel and the Macina region southwest of Timbuktu. Other ethnic groups to note include the Tukulor, the Khasonke, the Bozo, and the Somono. Although some Tuareg and Fulani are nomadic, the vast majority now live in permanent settlements.


Let's Talk Tourism


Visa Requirements

As part of the tourist facilitation, Bamako airport police grants a 5-day visa for admission to all visitors. The valid identity card or passport is required for nationals of the following countries: Algeria, Benin, Cameroon, Ivory Coast, Andorra, Monaco, Chad, Gambia, Burkina Faso, Mauritania, Morocco , Niger, Senegal, Togo, Tunisia. A passport with visa and residence (7 days) or transit for all other countries. Extensions and extended stay visas are granted by the General Directorate of the National Police in Bamako.


Vaccination against yellow fever is mandatory. Recommended vaccinations include: diphtheria, tetanus, polio, tuberculosis, hepatitis B, typhoid and meningitis. Against mosquitoes, it is recommended to bring mosquito repellent or insecticide. But a preventive anti-malaria treatment is strongly recommended.


Money


The currency used in Mali is the CFA franc. 1 euro equals 655.597 CFA and US Dollar fluctuates so you will have to check the foreign exchange before travel. Credit cards are used in certain structures such as banks or hotels, however, payment is normally done in cash.


Other Tips


The best season to travel to Mali is at the end of the rainy season which is in October up to March. The hot season is from March to June, wintering season is July to October, and cool season is November to February. For your stay in Mali, pack light clothing, long sleeve clothing, walking shoes, and sunglasses. During the rainy season carry an umbrella or a raincoat, a mosquito net or products against mosquitoes. The time zone is GMT. There is an hour less in winter and two hours less in summer compared to France.


Where To Stay


Finding hotels can be hard but I would suggest the Mali Tourism website to find approved hotels. There you will find some hotels with ratings and some that are unclassified with no ratings. You may be able to find reviews on tripadvisor for some of the hotels as well.


If you are looking for a hotel more on the high end side I would recommend Azalai Hotel Bamako.

This hotel seems to have a reputation of being one of the best hotels in West Africa. The hotel guarantees world class customer service, safety, comfort, and that you will enjoy your stay. Prices start at 85 000 FCFA per night which is about $142 USD per night. Facilities and services include a pool, spa, gym, WiFi, room service, air conditioning, airport shuttle service, nightclub and more.


If your are looking for something more on low budget Hotel Du Cinquantenaire might be an option. It seems to be more traditional in design and prices start at $40 500 FCFA per night which is about $68 USD per night. The hotel has a pool, fitness room, casino, WiFi, room service and other services and ammenities.

Of course these are just suggestions and Mali is a very big country. So there are many other options.


Must See Sites in Mali

  • Gouina Falls

  • The falls from Felou

  • Fort Medina

  • Fataladji

  • The Tapa Kourou

  • The Pink Market

  • The palace and monuments Kuluba

  • The Bamako Cathedral

  • The national museum of Mali

  • The museum of Bamako

  • The museum of Muso Kunda

  • The Woroni Falls

  • The doors of Sudan

  • Missirikoro Caves

  • The village of Farako

For more information on attractions, restaurants and shopping places in Mali visit their tourism website.


It's important to note before traveling to Mali you should check with your embassy or international reputable news sources if there is any travel advisory to be aware of as there are no go zones that are not safe for tourists in Mali. Mali is known as a high risk danger for tourists, so be informed before planning a trip there.

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