Young Pioneer Tours

Mali Independent Tours

From the moment we first visited this country we have seen it as a classic YPT destination. Mali has been abandoned altogether by mainstream tourism, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t filled with encounters with awesome people, a fascinating history and local culture.

During this trip you will visit Segou, the sleepy river town where we will mingle with the locals and learn more about everyday Malian life. We then head to Djenne with its architectural wonders, a UNESCO site that will be completely ours to visit. Leaving Djenne behind, we will then move to Mopti, which is right by the line of control of the UN forces, giving us an idea of the conflict happening in the north but also giving us access to a very busy city in Mali.

At present Dogon Country remains completely closed to tourism because of the security situation, but Mali is safe for tourism in general and our local partners provide a secure environment to get the most out of this country.

Independent Tour Itinerary:

Day 1 – Bamako

  • Early morning arrival into Bamako
  • Meet in the hotel lobby before we head out on a city tour of Bamako
  • We will visit the Rose Market of Bamako which will give you an idea of the hustle and bustle of the Malian capital.
  • A visit of the National Museum of Mali, with an astounding collection of masks and traditional outfits.
  • We visit the tower of Africa, the highest tower in Mali.
  • Lunch at Bating Restaurant for some local fare.
  • We ascend the Point G hill to get a view of the whole of Bamako
  • Head out for dinner where we’ll also have a short orientation about the dos and don’ts of travel in Mali.
  • Overnight in Bamako at Hotel les Colibris or similar

Day 2 – Segou

  • Up nice and early to hit the road to Segou.
  • On the way to Segou, we stop in Segoukoro. In the old days, Segoukoro was the capital of the Bambara kingdom
  • There, we have an appointment with none other than the village chief, who is a direct descendant of the kings of old. We have tea with him available to answer all of our questions about the history of Segou and its royalty
  • We tour the village, home to four mosques, the most famous being the waterfront one which the very famous king Biton Coulibaly built for his mother.
  • We leave Segoukoro by a pinasse, the Malian boat of choice, to go on a cruise along the Niger river, the third biggest river in Africa. We can expect to see the lifestyle of the people on the banks, most of them being from tribes of nomadic fishermen
  • Lunch on the boat as we sail back to Segou. Meeting back with the team, our passports are given back to us.
  • We head to the Somono neighbourhood, which has some of the oldest adobe buildings around, the traditional architectural style of Segou meant to keep the house cool in the intense summer, there we’ll take part in a traditional Malian tea ceremony.
  • This evening, we are free to explore Segou’s culinary scene. Having been mostly left out of the troubles, Segou still has a lot of varied restaurants with very good variety.
  • Overnight in Segou, hotel l’Auberge, or similar

Day 3 – San

  • We head to the Somono neighbourhood, which has some of the oldest adobe buildings around, the traditional architectural style of Segou meant to keep the house cool in the intense summer, there we’ll take part in a traditional Malian tea ceremony.
  • We venture out of Segou proper to visit artisan villages where we’ll see how calebasse bowls are made and a village of blacksmiths.
  • We head in the old neighbourhood to meet a local family who will cook us a classic Malian dish of peanut sauce.
  • Drive to San
  • We climb a nearby building to get a view of Djenne’s Great Mosque, the world’s biggest mud building. The inside of the Mosque can only be visited by Muslims.
  • Head out for dinner in a restaurant specially opened for us as the local economy has collapsed and restaurants aren’t opened daily
  • Overnight in Hotel Teriya or similar

Day 4 – Djenne

  • Up in the morning for our road trip to Djenne.
  • We visit Koranic schools as well as the museum of Djenne’s manuscripts, where a single man protects the documents of days gone by.
  • We stop by the sacred well, where it is said the ancestors of the town were consulting the spirits to plan their next moves.
  • We visit the shrine of Tapama, a young virgin who was sacrificed to appease the bad spirits.
  • For lunch, we try the local specialty of Djenne, the Tion Tion, a delicious fish fried rice
  • In the afternoon, we head out of the walled city and into the different surrounding villages. Each village is profoundly different from the others, as they were built by different tribes, such as the Bozo, Fulani, Bambara and Songhai, with their own cultures and ways of life. We’ll be going around in style, as we’ll blaze off on dusty roads on our own horse-cart!
  • Head back to San
  • Overnight in Hotel Teriya or similar

Day 5 – San-Bamako

  • Today we head on a road trip back to Bamako
  • There will be numerous stops on the way to stretch the legs, take photos, get food and drinks and also explore the local villages
  • Dinner and overnight at Hotel les Colibris or similar

Day 6 – Manding Country

  • After breakfast, we make our way to Manding Country
  • The Mandinka are one of the largest ethnic groups in Africa
  • In Manding Country we will visit the water drop cave, the Kamadjan Arc and the consultation cave
  • All meals today will be provided and we will take our time to explore the Mandinka villages
  • Overnight we will camp at the Campement de l’Arch

Day 7 – Manding-Bamako

  • Although we cannot get to Dogon Country, this morning we will see a traditional Dogon mask ceremony
  • Extra time to explore the villages of Manding Country
  • Returning to Bamako we will stop off at the sacred well
  • Arrival in Bamako and end of tour


  • All transport to complete the trip including airport transfers, all by 4WD
  • English-speaking local guide
  • All entrance fees
  • Breakfasts and lunches, and dinners outside of main cities
  • Accommodation


  • Travel to and from Mali
  • Visa fees (YPT can provide visa support)
  • Drinks and meals not specified
  • Optional activities outside the itinerary
  • Personal Expenses and fees related to photography


1 person – 3495 euro

2 people – 1895 euro

3 people – 1395 euro

4 people – 1195 euro

If you would like to customise the itinerary then just get in touch!