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Honeymoon in Mali

Mali, the jewel in West Africa's crown and the home of the legendary Timbuktu.

Mali is a beautiful place which is well worth a visit; although tourism is slow due to lack of basic infrastructure.

Places of Interest in Mali

Timbuktu – almost everybody has heard of Timbuktu, but maybe not so many people know where it is. Well, it's in Mali. A historic post on the trans-Saharan caravan route located on the southern edge of the Sahara desert, it was originally founded in AD 1100 to be a seasonal camp by the Tuareg nomads. It was an important point in the 14th century for the gold-salt trade, and small salt caravans are still known to arrive there in the winter although there is no longer any gold to trade there. Timbuktu is quite rightly one of the most popular cultural destinations in Mali.


Bamako
– the capital city of Mali offers a great and colorful introduction to this wonderful and friendly country. With the Musee National, Maison des Artisans, zoo and botanical gardens and lots of colorful markets, it really is a great and popular place to find out about Mali, the jewel in West Africa's crown.

Mopti – lies about halfway between Bamako and Timbuktu and is basically three islands at the junction of the Bani and Niger rivers. Mosquito repellent is an absolute necessity here, but once you've been squirted and sprayed you'll marvel at this lively and colorful town. It's also a good place from where to visit Dogon country, where the Dogon tribe, the original settlers on the Niger valley built their villages on the cliffs of the Bandiagara escarpment, which has since been declared a World Heritage site. This really is a site to behold and well worth the trip, but be warned, part of the reason that it has remained so unspoiled is its inaccessibility. Don't expect a smooth passage to see this remarkable place.

Dogon mask dance

 

The Festival in the Desert

Mali is renowned for some of the most exciting and joyful festivals in Africa. Held annually in January, The Festival in the Desert is held in desert oasis of Essakane, around 65 kilometers from Timbuktu. It is modeled on the traditional gatherings of the "blue men of the desert" the Tuareg tribe. This is the opportunity to witness a great cultural experience but don't expect to be kept in the lap of luxury. There are no hotels here, only tents and ground mats. Bring your own sleeping bag, it gets pretty cold in the desert on a January night. Expect temperatures to range from around 35 degrees in the daytime (that's really hot) to minus 5 degrees during the night (that's really cold).

Highlights of the Mali Culture

The many highlights of the Mali culture are magnified by the many wonderful and diverse tribes which live in this beautiful country.

Mali is a beautiful, land locked country often referred to as the jewel in West Africa's crown. It is home to around 12 million people who are divided into five major tribes:

  • Bambara – 31.4% - Many of the civil servant positions in Mali are held by people of the Bambara tribe, the largest tribe in Mali
  • Fula Macina – 9.6%
  • Soninke – 7.4%
  • Sanghai – 6.3%
  • Dogon – 5%

Cattle Crossing Festival

Other tribes include the Tuareg and the Fulani, and the Dogons and the Tuareg are the tribes who still live a more traditional way of life.

The Tuareg – known as the blue men of the desert because of their bright indigo robes and turbans, the Tuaregs still live a desert existence as much as possible. They are a proud people famous for both their abilities as fighters as well as their artwork. The government is threatening their traditional lifestyle but it is still possible to see a camel caravan appear and then suddenly disappear again on the desert horizon.

Languages in Mali

Mali has a total of 32 listed languages, it must be all those tribes, but the official language of the country is French. This is used largely as the mother tongue for many of the Bambara tribe, and as a secondary language for nationwide communication via the embassy.

Food in Mali

The food in Mali is not really that different from other areas of West Africa. Fish dishes are of course popular along the banks of the river Niger, and can be fried, stewed, baked or grilled. There is also a very traditional and delicious dish called Couscous De Timbuktu (yes, Timbuktu is actually in Mali), which is basically a beef or lamb stew with dates, couscous and lots of traditional spices.

Mali Arts & Crafts

The Mali people are certainly creative, and are skilled in many artistic fields:

  • Wood carvings and masks
  • Brass carvings
  • Mud cloth fabric designs – this method has been handed down over generations. First of all the cloth is woven, then it is painted by hand using only natural ingredients. Afterwards, it is dipped into specially prepared dyes which are made from mud, left out in the sun to dry and then dipped again. The whole thing can take a few weeks from start to finish but is one of Mali's most famous traditions.
  • Wicker creations
  • Gold jewelry
  • Bead bracelets
  • Architecture

Music in Mali

The music in Mali is some of the most contemporary in Africa, with quite a traditional range of musical instruments including a Kamal Ngoni (6 stringed guitar), a Djembe (drum made from deer hide) as well as modern electric keyboards, electric guitars, strings, flutes and rattles. Traditional songs are accompanied by a kora, a 21 string harp-lute type instrument with is plucked between the index finger and the thumb of both hands.

Mali is a beautiful place which is well worth a visit; although tourism is slow due to lack of basic infrastructure.

Tourism in Mali is still very much in the 'developmental' stages. Mali has some of the most wonderful cultural sites and places of interest, but the development of the tourist industry is severely hampered by the poor transport infrastructure and lack of hotels and places to stay. This is being addressed as much as possible and the government of Mali is doing its best to promote the country as a potential tourist destination, but without much needed investment progress is, of course, slow.

dogon mask

Tourism in Mali

Tourism in Mali is still very much in the 'developmental' stages. Mali has some of the most wonderful cultural sites and places of interest, but the development of the tourist industry is severely hampered by the poor transport infrastructure and lack of hotels and places to stay. This is being addressed as much as possible and the government of Mali is doing its best to promote the country as a potential tourist destination, but without much needed investment progress is, of course, slow.

Source: http://www.maliembassy-usa.org/

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