Ancestral cultures of the Niger river

Mali is surely the best destination in West Africa: landscape, ethnography, history, and a vernacular architecture unique in the world. For a couple of decades it has been the top destination alongside Senegal (less impressive) for many European travelers. Mali does not disappoint, as it offers you the feeling of traveling back in time and enjoying unforgettable experiences. The Bandiagara Fault, Djenné, and other iconic places make up our beloved Mali.


Nomadic and enigmatic peoples
The nomadic group of the Fulani stand out, which populate a large part of the Sahel, and of course also the Dogon people, one of the most enigmatic tribal groups in sub-Saharan Africa, which with its rugged settlements next to the Bandiagara fault, its mysterious dances of masks, his animistic medicine and shamanic mythology, have attracted the attention of most anthropologists.

Summit of Sudano-Sahelian architecture
The city of Djenné is a historical religious and commercial enclave located in the Niger Delta and founded in the 9th century, with an architectural style based on adobe bricks. Djenné is home to the largest mud mosque in the world.

Featured ecosystem gradient
Mali presents an outstanding gradient of ecosystems, from the majestic Sahara desert -which serves as the northern border of the country-, passing through the arid areas of the Sahel, to the green and fertile southern region, bathed by the colossal Niger River.

Tourist Visa for Mali

The tourist visa is mandatory to enter Mali. Usually it can be obtained on the arrival at the airport of Bamako. See more information at

Health - Compulsory vaccines for Mali
The yellow fever vaccine is mandatory. Recommended prophylaxis against malaria. We advise that, in advance, you go to the Foreign Health or Health Center to inform the traveler about the specific health recommendations of the area to which you are going to travel and to guide you on the guidelines to continue for disease prevention. We follow the WHO protocol to avoid COVID-19 infections.
Before the start date of the trip, we will send a statement with the updated guidelines to follow, in particular on the COVID-19 requirements.
See more information at

Security in Mali
Most of the tourist spots in Mali can be visited without problem, except for the Saharan area (including Timbuktu, which must ask for permits to visit). With this clarified, in the last months of 2019 there has been conflict between the Fulani and Dogon tribes. This does not help to control the conflict in the country dating back to 2012, the year in which the Tuareg rebelled and allied Islamists seized their north, prompting French forces to intervene to push them back the following year. . Since then, Islamists have regained positions in the north and center, taking advantage of ethnic rivalries.

Climate - Best time to travel to Mali
Last Places West Africa organizes trips to throughout the year. Mali's climate has three seasons that are unevenly distributed throughout the year. (The rainy season lengthens as one descends towards the South).
- The rainy season runs from June to September or October, reaching its peak in mid-August with an average temperature of 25º.
- The dry season runs from March to June when the highest temperatures are reached with 35º in Bamako and 32 in Timbuktu.
- The cold and dry season runs from October-November to February, with an average temperature of 25º, reaching the minimum temperatures in the month of December.
The "harmatán", a desert wind coming from the Northeast, is unleashed immediately after the rainy season, helping to increase the dryness of the environment, especially in the early afternoon. The best period of the year for tourism is from July to September in the rainy season or from November to May in the cold season.

The national currency is the CFA Franc, a common currency in various countries (former French colonies) of West and Central Africa. Euros can be exchanged for local currency at airports, banks, or exchange houses. The Last Places West Africa guide can help you exchange money. There are few places that allow you to pay by credit card, so you must bring cash.

Mali Timezone
GMT / UTC + 1. In Mali there is no time change in summer..

Electricity, battery charging, cameras and mobiles
In Mali we have the same plugs as in Spain, as well as the same voltage. That said, there are often brownouts so an adapter is recommended to avoid mishaps
To charge the batteries during the camping days, we will have the plugs of the vehicles themselves as well as a generator that will facilitate it.
       Voltage: 220 V             Plugs: Type C           Frequency: 50 Hz

Communications / Internet in Mali
The international telephone code for Mali is +223. Only the hotels along the route and some guesthouses have Wi-Fi, sometimes with a weak signal. You can buy a SIM card to have a connection during the trip. In some remote areas there will be no possibility of internet connection.

Language in Mali
The official language of Mali is French. In addition, numerous tribal languages are spoken. There are several Malian ethnic groups, namely Mande, Fula, Voltaic (Senufo / Bwa), Tuareg / Moor, and Songhai, among others. Mali's largest ethnic group is the Mande, who make up 50% of its total population. On the other hand, the second largest ethnic group in Mali is Fula, which is made up of 17% of the population. There are 13 national languages ??spoken in Mali. They include Bambara, Soninke, Hasanya Arabia, Bomu, Tamasheq, Songhay, Fulfulde, Bozo, Maninkakan, Dogon, Syenara, Mamara, and Xasongaxango. In addition to the national languages, the Ethnologue has a registry of 63 languages ??spoken in Mali. A large percentage (80%) of Malians speak Bambara as their first or second language. Therefore, the Bambara language is the most widely spoken native language. It is mainly spoken in southern and central Mali. Bambara originated in the Kingdom of Segou many centuries ago. Since it is popular with the majority of the Malian population, it is often used in commerce.

Recommendations and Prohibitions - Protocol when visiting tribal societies
The majority of the following behaviour guidelines are observed in a daily basis, but sometimes, fascinated but what we encounter, one might forget them. Some recommendations are to protect their habitats and traditions..

Greetings and introduction: on arrival, and with the help of our guide-interpreter, we will encounter the chief of the community. We will introduce ourselves and explain the reason of our visit. After a brief chat, we ask for permission to wander around the village, interact with its inhabitants and take pictures. This way, the visit flows in a more natural and relaxed atmosphere

Interaction: although the chief of the community has granted us permission to visit his village, if we wish to enter inside a house or private area, we should ask explicit permission to the owner. This applies not only to buildings, but also to the lands, animals, totems and natural surroundings. Tribal life is a whole and has a much wider meaning which affects the lives of its inhabitants who live in symbiosis with their animals and nature.

Presents: We will avoid bringing clothes, footwear, toys, plastic and utensils which do not belong to their culture, because this would accelerate the global process against the preserving of their customs. Simple apparently harmless gestures, like giving sweets to the children, can have major consequences like cavities. We will bet for presents which already belong to their culture, like fabrics bought at their local markets and which are already a regular product for them. If we bring medicines, we will take them to the medical center to ensure its correct administration.

Photography: Like in many other countries in the world, it is strictly prohibited to take pictures of the police or army, and to places considered strategic, such as military areas or buildings, places of high security and governmental buildings.
When taking pictures at people in their villages (tribes), it is always preferable to start the visit by greeting the chief of the community and after the introductions are done, we can discuss and come to an agreement on the photography protocol. We will ask for explicit permission to the person or people if we wish to take a picture of them. Sometimes we might be asked to pay for the posing, so it is advisable to discuss this price beforehand in order to avoid misunderstandings.The guide in Last Places can help deal with this once in the villages.

 • Observing without judging: Despite being sometimes difficult, it is the best way to plunge into other societies. The experience of interacting and learning from cultural diversity is the best legacy that we will acquire from tribal life.

Environment: In our trips we promote the protection of the environment and try to respect the natural surroundings by minimizing our impact and leaving no trace behind.



Mali: ancestral cultures of the Niger river

Photographic trip to the heart of Mali, one of the most interesting countries in West Africa. With the help of an expert photographer guide in the country, we will enter the heart of the Niger River to learn about the cultures that depend on it. We will visit the river islands to meet tribal minorities such as the Bozos, we will discover Mandingo animist ceremonies, and we will reach the Djené plains, inhabited by traditional Fulani tribes. The trip will reach the gates of the Dogon country where we will attend a Kanaga masked ball, a unique end to this ethnographic adventure. We will travel in a comfortable minibus and motorized canoes to reach the most remote villages.

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