Since YPT first visited Mali and Burkina Faso, we’ve encountered incredible people with many different fascinating cultures and unique history.
The tour begins in Bamako, the capital of Mali. The nation has been mostly abandoned by mainstream tourism leaving us with an entire country to explore without possibly encountering other foreigners. From here your adventure will lead you to Segoukoro, the former capital of the Bambara Kingdom where you’ll meet the village chief and hear more of an insight to how things were. You’ll then board a pinasse and sail down the Niger River passing small fishing and pottery villages until arriving at the small sleepy river town of Segou rich with an authentic culinary scene.
You’ll then head to Djenne, a town known as the capital of mud where the streets and structures are built entirely out of mud. The Great Mosque in town is the largest mud structure in the world. Here we’ll visit the local blacksmiths to learn how they keep up with this tradition. We’ll then make our way further out of town to visit four unique tribes by horseback to have an incredible insight to these traditional villages.
We then make our way to Mopti, a bustling city situated by the border controlled by UN forces. This will give you a further idea of the ongoing conflict taking place in this region.
Over the years we have built a great relationship with the locals at Dogon Tribe which grant you the visit and overnight stay within a totally isolated village by the rocky plains. The scenery alone justifies your visit. Here you’ll have the opportunity to watch a sacred mask ceremony where in the ancestral animist beliefs have the elders of the village scare bad spirits away and welcome the good.
Group A members return to Bamako via Segou where we’ll arrange your airport drop off. Group B members continue onto Burkina Faso and visit Yako, the birthplace Thomas Sankara who is referenced as Africa’s Che Guevara. Burkina Faso was the epicentre of the Pan-Africanism and anti-colonial struggle. During your visit in Yako you’ll meet Sankara’s relatives and hear more about his history and the impact he had on the nation.
You’ll then drop by Bobo Dioulasso where you’ll experience Burkina village life by visiting mosques, sorcery sites, and impressive rock formations which tribes used as their fortresses during their wars. You’ll explore remote villagers where it’s possible to have a very close (and safe) encounter with hippos and crocodiles than you ever thought was possible!
The tour ends up in Ouagadougou, the capital of Burkina Faso where we’ll be accompanied by friends and relatives of Sankara, followed by a farewell party to be remembered within the maquis and open-air bars the Burkinabe swear by.
We will have our own 4WD cars and will stay in camping sites in places where accommodation isn’t readily available. This trip involves a fair bit of camping and might not be as comfortable as our other trips, but it is sure to offer an off-the-beaten-path experience. We will be staying in accommodation we vouch for with extraordinary people.
Due to the logistical and infrastructural limitations that come with a trip to Mali and Burkina Faso, this trip is capped at 12 participants with priority being given to people booking both countries.
YPT keeps fully up to date with the security situation in both countries, as with many of our tours this itinerary is subject to change depending on the situation on the ground, with the local guide and YPT guide having final say on all logistical decisions
Arrive at your convenience into Bamako – the largest and capital city of Mali which is well connected from many countries within Africa and most of Europe.
Pre-tour meeting will be held at the lobby of our hotel at 8:30am to discuss tour itinerary and to meet your fellow travellers and YPT guide.
Begin the your Mali adventure by visiting the Rose Market of Bamako which will give you an idea of the hustle and bustle of the Malian capital.
Explore the National Museum of Mali – an astounding collection of masks and traditional outfits.
Visit the Tower of Africa – the tallest tower in Mali
Lunch at Bating Restaurant providing incredible local dishes such as Poulet Yassa
Ascend to the top of Point G Hill – a French military hospital was built on top of this hill between 1906 and 1913 offering fantastic views over Bamako.
Dinner at a local joint in the city popular with locals
Bamako being the largest city in Mali offers somewhat of a nightlife – we’ll head out and see what we can discover!
Overnight at hotel in Bamako
Sunday 30th January – Bamako – Segoukoro – Segou
Breakfast at hotel and begin drive to Segou (4 hours) – a town built on the banks of River Niger.
Before arriving at Segou we’ll stop at the town of Segoukoro – the former capital of the Bambara Kingdom.
We have an appointment with none other than the village chief, who is a direct descendant of the kings of old. You’ll have tea with him and he’ll help answer all of our questions about the history of Segou and its royalty.
The King’s descendants will show us the rebuilt vestibule, where the king used to receive his guests.
Explore the village, home to four mosques, the most famous being the waterfront one which the local famous King Biton Coulibaly built for his mother.
Depart Segoukoro by a pinasse – the Malian boat of choice. You’ll cruise along the Niger River, the third largest river of Africa. You’ll see the lifestyle of the people on the riverbanks, most of them being from tribes of nomadic fishermen.
During your cruise we’ll stop at one of the fisherman villages to say hello and then stop again in a village of potters
Continue cruising down the river with lunch on the boat
Arrive into Segou and explore an old neighbourhood to meet with a local family who’ll will cook us a classic Malian dish of peanut sauce
Further explore a Somono neighbourhood – this area has the oldest adobe buildings, a traditional architectural style house found mostly in Segou that help keep the family inside cool during intense summers. Here you’ll also take part in a traditional Malian tea ceremony.
Head to the centre of the town and seek out Segou’s culinary scene, stopping by a local restaurant and later check out Segou’s nightlife.
Overnight at the Hotel L’Auberge
Monday 31st January – Segou – Djenne
Visit a nearby plantation for breakfast
For Group B members visiting Burkina Faso – we will stop by the consulate downtown at the opening times so that your visa will be processed throughout our stay in Sogou.
Visit the Monument to the Kings located at the entrance of the city – previous King that had Segou
Explore artisan villages located in the outskirts of Segou where you’ll see how calebasse bowls are made and a village of blacksmiths.
Lunch in town and collect group B members passports from the consulate
Begin 5 hour drive to Djenne – also known as the capital of mud as the buildings and streets constructed within the city are made entirely out of mud.
Climb the top of a structure for a grand view of Djenne’s Great Mosque – the world’s largest mud building. The inside of the Mosque can only be visited by Muslims.
Dinner at a local restaurant that specifically opens for us since the local economy has collapsed.
Assist our team with setting up our tents for the evening within a family’s compound.
Overnight camping, for those group members opting for single supplement may stay at a nearby hotel.
Tuesday 1st February – Djenne
Breakfast by the camp
Visit Koranic schools and drop by the Museum of Djenne’s manuscripts – here a single man protects the documents of days gone by.
Inspect a sacred well – it is said that the ancestors of the town used this wall to consult the spirits to plan their next moves.
Explore the Shrine of Tapama – a young virgin was sacrificed here to appease the bad spirits of the town.
For your lunch you’ll experience the local speciality of Djenne, the Tion Tion – a delicious fish fried rice
Adventure out of the walled city and into various villages each profoundly different from the others as they were built by different tribes. You’ll experience the Bozo, Fulani, Bambara and Songhai tribes – they have very own culture and ways of life. Our own horse and cart will be provided for these trickier roads.
Head back to town with dinner hosted by our families
Overnight camping, with single supplement available for those who wish to stay at a nearby hotel.
Wednesday 2nd February – Djenne – Mopti
Breakfast in town and head 4 hours further north to Mopti – located directly under the security corridor established by the UN Forces
Along the way we’ll stop to grab lunch
Spend the afternoon exploring Mopti and its bustling street life. There is a magnificent mud mosque similar to the one we saw in Djenne, and a women’s market.
Trip highlight – Later in the afternoon we’ll board a boat and explore the busy port of Mopti. This is where the Bani and Niger River meet. The port is an important hub of transportation in Mali with people here embarking on the dodgiest 3-day trip aboard a shabby pinasse to Timbuktu of all places! This boat ride is one of YPT’s favourites around the world!
Dinner and overnight at our hotel
Thursday 3rd February – Mopti – Dogon Country
Breakfast at a nearby market and make our way to Dogon Country – the first stop being the town of Songo.
Once arriving you’ll experience the traditional Dogon Village. The villagers here previously lived further up the rocks to keep their animistic beliefs and flee persecution from Muslims.
Visit the area where the village arranges the circumcision ceremony for the surrounding villages. There’s a large rock painting retelling the stories of the villages as well as the circumcision ceremony. Our guide will explain to us all about the ceremony, which lasts more than a week.
Climb the nearby mountain for an impressive view of the town
Lunch is arranged in Bandiagara – the largest town in the area
Our 4WD drops us in Aindelou where we’ll walk 4km to the isolated village of Dogon
Arrive in Begnimatu – YPT’s favourite Dogon three-village-in one. One with a Muslim, a Catholic and a Christian neighbourhood. The village is perched on the mountains in the canyon and sunsets here are a sight to behold.
Farewell dinner with the locals as they prepare a feast. We’ll be staying with the Christian neighbourhood which allows us to party with the locals.
Camp overnight in Begnimatu on the houses’ rooftop under a very starry sky
Friday 4th February – Dogon Country – Ouahigouya
Trip highlight – After breakfast by the camp, we are invited to a traditional Dogon mask ceremony. This is where the elders of the village chant in order to chase bad spirits while the very sacred Dogon masks are taken out of their sacred places to be worn for the dance. All members of the community, Muslims, Catholics and animists alike unite to re-enact ancestral dances.
Once the ceremony concludes, it’s time for us to trek down the rocks stopping by the villages of Doundiourou and Bagourou. Here you can see traditional Dogon Justice Halls. The halls are built with ceilings too low for people to stand, are where family elders meet to discuss and solve issues peacefully.
Arrive in Ende for lunch
Group A members – begin 4 hour drive to the town of San, dinner and overnight
Group B members – begin drive towards Burkina Faso. We’ll cross the border and go through necessary car and immigration formalities. Arrive in Ouahigouya – the third largest town in the country. Dinner and overnight.
Saturday 5th February
Group A Members: San – Segou – Bamako (Mali)
Breakfast at hotel, visit the outside of the adobe mosque and explore the rest of the village.
Begin the long journey back to Bamako, stopping in Segou for lunch
Arrive in Bamako, check into hotel to refresh and head out for dinner
Tour concludes with airport drop-off arranged according to your flight details – YPT is also able to arrange post-tour accommodation or advice for flights.
Group B Members: Ouahigouya – Bobo Dioulasso (Burkina Faso)
Breakfast at hotel and head towards Bobo Dioulasso – the second largest city in the country
Along the way stopping in Yako – the birthplace of Thomas Sankara, the Che Guevara of Africa. His time in power was abruptly ended by the treason of his best friend and subsequent murder. Although Sankara was incredibly ruthless, he did focus on education and the empowerment of women. He’s mostly remembered fondly in these parts.
Arrive in Bobo Dioulasso and head out for dinner
Visit the maquis, typical Burkinabe open-air bars which turn into nightclubs
Overnight in Bobo Dioulasso
Sunday 6th February – Bobo Dioulasso
Breakfast in town
Explore the old neighbourhood and grasp the feeling of what life was like in old Burkina Faso, or as it was known during the colonial times – the Upper Volta.
Followed by a short drive and a 1km hike to Dafra – known for the famous pilgrimage site in Burkina Faso where people come from far to sacrifice animals to the local catfish. Things get very real as we get up close to those animist rituals. Please note that it is taboo to wear red clothes and take photos on this site.
Visit the Sudanese-style mosque
Lunch in town and begin our horseback journey to the countryside. If prefer the comfort of our 4WD this option is still available.
Set up our camping site in the bush.
Delicious dinner is arranged here on our very own campfire – you’ll be surprised what our local friends can whip up on a campfire and drinks are included.
Monday 7th February – Bobo Dioulasso – Sindou
Enjoy a bush breakfast
Visit the nearby maternity clinic where a local doctor will introduce the healthcare situation in Burkina Faso
Ride your horse back into town and hop into your 4WD to head to Sindou – 3 hours
Once arriving in Sindou we’ll have lunch and check into your hut to refresh
Drive out of Sindou and visit Kawara – a village of potters known for performing a traditional pottery dance.
Return to Sindou and explore the village and the impressive rock formations for which it is renowned for. It is the highest point of Burkina Faso. People used to live here as it was an easy to defend location. Each rock formation has a story which our local guide will share whilst we enjoy the sunset.
Dinner arranged by our local contacts
Overnight in huts
Tuesday 8th February – Sindou – Banfora
Breakfast in town
Begin driving journey to Banfora – here you’ll visit the Fabedougou Domes. The natural rock formations which have to be seen to be believed. This area was used to hide from neighbouring tribes.
Hike 1.5km to the Karfiguela Falls
Picnic lunch by the falls and a dip in the refreshing water
Board a boat to go hippo spotting. Although hippos are known for being dangerous and territorial, here the hippos are sacred animals and the locals live in harmony with these large wild animals. It’s possible to get close and have a real close encounter with a few!
Head back to Banfora
Dinner in town with plenty of options from local maquis to nice and cosy French restaurants
Overnight in Banfora
Wednesday 9th February – Banfora – Ouagadougou
Breakfast in town and begin our largest road trip yet of expected 7 hours.
We’ll make scenic stops and a lunch break along the way to stretch our legs including a last stop in Bazoule – a sacred crocodile pond. Here the locals are at peace with the crocs. The crocodiles are never hunted, harmed or killed. In exchange, the crocs do not eat the locals. As crazy as this sounds it is possible to play with the crocodiles.
Arrive in Ouagadougou – the capital of Burkina Faso.
Trip highlight – While its successors have tried to erase any trace of him, the memory of Thomas Sankara is still very much alive in the people of the city, this is why we’ll spend the day touring the city along with friends and relatives of Thomas Sankara, who will be there to tell us about the man himself. We’ll also make sure to visit his brand new statue.
Explore Ouaga 2000 – the weird futuristic city project where you’ll visit two monuments of great importance: the Monument to National Heroes and the Monument to the Martyrs. If you’ve visited North Korea, you’d feel that these monuments would fit right into Pyongyang.
Visit the roundabout of the Second of October – commemorating the day Sankara announced the revolution
Farewell dinner at a phenomenal restaurant and experience the nightlife of the city’s busiest maquis
Overnight in Ouagadougou
Thursday 10th February – Ouagadougou
Tour concludes with airport drop-off arranged according to your flight details – YPT is also able to arrange post-tour accommodation or advice for flights. For those departing later, YPT can arrange visits to the National Museum, Music Museum and handicraft market of Ouagadougou.
Group members apart of our Togo and Benin tour board flight to Lomé, the capital of Togo – flight not included in tour price
• Accommodation in twin share basis rooms or camping single tents
• Letter of Invitation and full visa support
• Air conditioned 4WD transport
• Breakfast and lunch
• Dinners when camping
• Entrance fees and tributes/gifts to communities
• English speaking local guide and YPT tour guide