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wojtekd Bandiagara - A travel report by Wojciech
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Bandiagara,  Mali - flag Mali
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wojtekd's travel reports

Dogon Country - the highlight of West Africa

  23 votes
Page: 1 2

Bandiagara travelogue picture
It is one of Africa's most interesting regions. Dogon people have old and rich cultural heritage: masks, dances, carving and pueblo-like dwellings. Escarpment where Dogon live is 150 km long. Villages to visit are both on the upper and lower level. Between levels there is limited number of country roads (at Dourou at Kani-Kombole) and paths. There are no signs on the paths so sometimes it is not easy to find the way – guide is very useful. Walking on your own is possible but require good map and much more time). Those who travel through Mali by rented car usually come to Sanga on the upper level and make one or two day excursion to the villages on the lover level.

Favourite spots:
Bandiagara travelogue picture
After first night in Dourou on the top we made round trip excursion down to Nombori (some 5 km each way). Walking shoes are required. Landscapes are excellent. In Nombori apart from traditional stone granaries and houses we accidentally had opportunity to see mask dances performed for other group (performance took about an hour and they charged from us 5000 CFA for taking pictures – well worth the price). After return to Dourou we saw there in the afternoon colorful local market (markets are in the afternoons and on irregular schedule so it is not possible to plan such visit ahead). Late in the day we took 7-km walk south to the village of Begnimato where we stay overnight. In the villages you have a choice of sleeping in the stone or mud-brick house (mat or hard bunk only provided) or on the roof. Mornings are cool so sleeping bag is useful. Do not expect any electricity to charge your batteries.

What's really great:
Bandiagara travelogue picture
Views and local handicraft. After very basic breakfast (millet cakes) we visited local school (donations are welcome) and walk 10 minutes to the viewpoint on the escarpment. Panorama from the cliff is impressive if not disturbed by harmattan dust. Back in Begnimato we walked 10 km down to Ende – large village at the foot of the escarpment. There are even basic guesthouses and nice artifacts on sale. Each part of the village has his own togina – shaded men meeting place with beautifully carved pillars. In the heat it require some effort to reach abandoned ancient houses at the foot of the cliff. Sand is everywhere... See more pictures and a map of Dogon Country on my polish page:
http://kontynenty.tpi.pl/Africa2000Dogon--Apl.htm



Sights:
Bandiagara travelogue picture
Usual gateway to the Dogon Country is Mopti - large (in Sahel scale) commercial town and main transportation hub for eastern part of Mali. There is not much to see regarding monuments (mosque and surrounding old streets are only tourist objects) but the “must to see” is port on the Bani river – very picturesque with dozens of long pinasses and piles of calabash, mat and other goods. What is irritating in Mopti that there are hordes of touts – they will follow you everywhere. They will offer of course to be your guides to nearby Dogon Country...

Accommodations:
Bandiagara travelogue picture
On the third day of our trek after one-hour walk along dozens of baobab trees we reached Teli with nice mosque and quite large “maison de passage” (sort of lodge - roof sleeping is also available)- it was the best accommodation on our trail. In Teli are ancient dwellings hidden under the cliff – even better preserved that those in Ende, with intriguing paintings. Continuing our trek at the foots of the escarpment we reached village Kani-Kombole. Then climbing uphill 5 km we finished our trip in Djiguibombo (7 hours from Ende). Djigibombo has interesting stone houses – especially that where local quack treats his patients. Prearranged car took us to Bandiagara and another bache (pickup) - to Mopti.

Restaurants:
Bandiagara travelogue picture
Forget restaurant in our meaning. Food is usually prepared on the open air. Be very careful accepting local food. Be sure that your chicken-rice is fresh and well boiled or fried! Stomach problem are common as it is hot and sanitary conditions are poor. Sealed mineral water is available in every village but you will probably get only half bucket of water to do your morning and evening toilette.

Other recommendations:
Bandiagara travelogue picture
Arriving from Burkina we found our Dogon guide in Koro. Or in fact he was waiting for the truck coming from Ouagihuiya. His name is Oumar Guindo and I can recommend him to other globies. After hard bargaining we fixed the price: 11.500 CFA per person per day in the group of 3 (Lida & April from USA - thanks for this unforgetable days!). It is important to make sure what is included in the price: guidance, meals, entry to the villages, overnight stays, porters and final car transfer to Bandiagara. On the picture you can see bache - small pick up truck carrying up to 16 people through the Dogon trails...


Published on Sunday November 3th, 2002


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Mon, Feb 11 2008 - 10:41 PM rating by krisek

Wojtku, this one is a great report and you are so good with the pictures, too.

Sun, Oct 23 2005 - 09:38 AM rating by miguelmarchi

I was in Senegal, and wanted to take the ttrain to Bamako, but finally did not go. Now I regret it after reading your marvelous report

Fri, May 20 2005 - 02:23 AM rating by ardelia

Another good article from you. Very informative and interesting. Nice pictures too.The port near the Bani River seems like a very unique place.

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