Discover the wonders of West Africa with
Toguna Adventure Tours


DOGON COUNTRY

Dogon Country

This is the magical Dogon village of Teli. Here you can see the original dwellings of the Tellum, the first known inhabitants to live along the Bandiagara escarpment prior to the arrival of the Dogon people.


Dogon Country

Dogon-Style Hotel - sleeping on the village rooftops under the stars -- wake up call at the crack of dawn by the donkeys and roosters!


Dogon Country

Dogon build granaries to store their food. There are 2 types; one for the woman to store all the necessary food and condiments for cooking and one for the man to store the millet.


Dogon Country

Dogon are famous for their art, especially for their wood carved doors, statues and masks that depict their history, tradition and culture.



General Information About Mali

In developing countries, it is not possible to predict everything. Road conditions, for example, can be very bad (dirt roads that are dusty with many potholes) and traveling time depends to a great extent on the season. Electricity cuts are frequent and occasionally the water is cut. These are usually for short periods of time, but can be very inconvenient nonetheless, especially if it is hot and you want to operate your fan or air-conditioner. However, many hotels do have generators. Service is always an issue; the waiting time in restaurants and banks is longer than we are used to. However, the people in West Africa, and particularly in Mali, are known for their friendliness which helps to make up for the lack of service.

Some Facts about Mali:

Mali is situated in the heart of West Africa. It is the largest country in West Africa covering 1,240,000 sq km which is as large as the surfaces of Senegal, Guinea, Liberia, Ivory Coast and Burkina Faso altogether!

Mali is a democracy and has had a multi-party system since 1992. However, in 2012 Mali's northern terrority was invaded by Taureg rebels, Al Qaeda & Jihadists and shortly thereafter a coup d'etat took place in Mali's capital city by the Malien Military. Mali was in turmoil for more than 18 months. However, France intervened in January 2013 to help Mali regain its northern terrority and orderly and peaceful presidential elections took place in July-August 2013. Mali has now returned to a peaceful calm and their is much optimism and enthusiasm with the new president, IBK, taking office on September 5, 2013.

The Malien Empire was very powerful and dominated much of West Africa's history for many centuries. Today's Mali is rich with the culture and traditions of its past. Because of its domination over West Africa, many diverse ethnic groups make up today's population of 12 million people. The largest of these groups are the Bambara. Some of the others are the Tuareg, Fulani, Dogon and Bozo. Because of Mali's history and diverse ethnic groups, it has become one of the most interesting and colorful destinations in all of West Africa and Timbuktu, Djenne, Dogon and recently Gao have been declared part of the UNESCO World Heritage.

Customs:

To enter Mali, you need a passport that is still valid for 6 months, a visa and an International Vaccination Certificate (Yellow Fever). You are not required to declare how much money you are bringing into the country. It is possible to obtain a 5-day visa upon arrival for 20,000 cfa (30 euros) and then you must get an extension in either Bamako or Mopti. However, for clients of Mali travel agencies, it is now possible to obtain a 30-day visa upon arrival for 20,000 cfa (30 euros) between the months of October and February. Ask your Mali travel agent for details.

Airport departure tax is included in the price of most airline tickets. Check with your airline before you leave to see if it is included.

You will be required to show an official clearance paper from the National Museum of Bamako if you buy old masks or sculptures.

Money:

The national currency is the CFA franc (655 CFA = 1 euro, 490 CFA = $1.00). Credit cards are not generally accepted in Mali with the exception of the higher-end hotels and some airline ticketing companies (and MasterCard is NOT accepted any where). In Bamako, there are now many ATM cash machines where you can get money from your VISA credit or check card if you have your PIN number and most of the 4 and 5-star hotels in Bamako have ATM cash machines in their lobby where you can get cash from your VISA card. You can get a cash advance against your MasterCard credit card ONLY at BIM or BDM banks (not the ATM machine), but it is about a 1-2 hour process. It is still a safer bet to bring enough cash and travelers cheques to last the whole trip. Besides the ATM machines, you will get the best exchange rate at Ecobank or on the black market in Bamako. We can also assist you with changing your money if you prefer.

Health:

To enter Mali, you must have an International Vaccination Card. A Yellow Fever vaccination is obligatory. Other vaccinations are strongly advised: Typhoid, Hepatitis A, Polio and Meningitis. It is necessary to take malaria profylaxe such as Lariam, Nivaquine, Paludrine, Safarin, etc. (consult your doctor). Because hygiene is a problem, you can get stomach sickness if you are not careful. It is advisable not to eat salad and only drink mineral water which is available everywhere. Make sure you drink enough water to prevent dehydration, especially when you are trekking and/or when you have diarrhoea. It is a good idea to bring some anti-diarrhoea medicine, aspirin, insect repellents, sunburn cream, disinfectants and bandages.

Climate:

Hot Season: March to June (35º - 43º C)
Rainy Season: July to October (25º - 35º C)
Cold Season: November to February (20º - 30º C)

Packing:

It is preferable to travel light, packing your luggage in a duffle bag or backpack. Summer clothes are appropriate all year round, with a light sweater for the evenings in the rainy and colder seasons (bring a windbreaker jacket if you plan to travel on the river Niger from Mopti to Timbuktu).

Packing Check-List

[ ] Insect Repellent [ ] Torch + batteries
[ ] Sunscreen [ ] Pocket Knife
[ ] Cap/Hat/Sunvisor [ ] Alarm Clock
[ ] Sunglasses [ ] Medicine (see Health Section)
[ ] Binoculars [ ] Day Pack
[ ] Water bottle [ ] Sleeping bag
[ ] Mosquito Net (depending on the season)
[ ] Soap [ ] Plastic raincoat (during the rainy season)
[ ] Toilet paper/tissues[ ] Towel [ ] Photocopy of important documents
[ ] Pocket size mirror [ ] Money Belt
[ ] Tampons

Our Tour Guides:

An experienced local guide always travels with our group who speaks English, French and local languages such as Bambara, Fulani and Dogon. We also have access to a couple guides that speak Spanish. They will translate, answer all of your questions and provide all necessary assistance and arrangements during the tour. Our guides are hand picked by us and are not only knowledgeable about Mali's traditions and culture, but are fun to be with and completely honest and reliable. Mostly Ogomano, Doudou, and Adama travel with our groups, all of who have 10 years+ guiding experience and are among Mali's top guides.

Transportation:

We travel in air-conditioned 4x4s driven by expert chauffeurs. They are well maintained and comfortable. For larger groups, we use small buses, which are also well maintained, air-conditioned and comfortable. Some of our clients prefer to travel a portion of the trip by air; currently there are 2 domestic airlines (MAE and Air Mali) connecting Bamako, Severe (12 km from Mopti) and Timbuktu offering 2 flights per week - flights from Bamako to Mopti and Timbuktu are often delayed by 2-3 hours, but are rarely canceled.

Depending on which program you choose, you will take a boat trip on the Niger and/or Bani rivers in a pirogue or travel from Mopti to Timbuktu in a pinasse or by a small ship. In Timbuktu, you will take a sunset camel ride into the desert. During our Dogon trek, donkey and cow carts are available for those of you who need to rest; the heat of the sun can be very tiring. However, most of our trekking is scheduled in the early morning or late afternoon when the sun is less strong.

Accommodation & Sleeping Arrangements:

Mali offers some "first class" hotels in Bamako, Mopti, Bandiagara (Dogon country) and Timbuktu. However, please bear in mind that Mali is still one of the poorest countries in the world and first class accommodation is not equal to that of richer nations. There are many comfortable middle and lower range hotels and guest houses to choose from.

In Dogon country, the sleeping arrangements in most villages are on a rooftop in the chief's compound. Straw mats are provided - one or two villages have mattresses - so it is recommended that you bring a sleeping bag. We can provide you with a tent if you like. Depending on the season, a mosquito net will or will not be necessary; during the Harmattan season it is windy on the roof and mosquitoes are overpowered and cannot fly that high. The toilets are a hole in the ground, basic but clean. Remember to bring your own toilet paper. Showers are from buckets of water. Remember to bring soap. For the ladies, remember to bring a mirror, as there are none in Dogon.

Photography:

If you want to take pictures of any individual person, always ask permission. Often, if you offer a gift ("cadeau"), permission will be granted. During the Dogon trek, you are permitted to take pictures in the villages that we visit.

Worthwhile Projects:

Often our clients want to bring a gift or give something to the local people. We feel instead of giving money, it is better to support a project which will make a difference to their lives rather than a quick money fix! If you would like to contribute to any of the following projects, your money will be spent on exactly what it says below as there is no overhead or people’s salaries to pay:

--Last year, we started donating left over money from Dogon village taxes to pay for medicine and/or operations for Dogon people who go to the hospital in Sangha but do not have money to pay for an operation or buy the medicine the doctor prescribes

--The Baru Association buys books and/or school uniforms for Dogon students who want to continue their education and are forced to go to Mopti to do so. However, there are many students who are expelled because they don’t have money to buy the necessary books (sometimes only a copy book!) or have proper clothing to wear to school

--We are raising money to build a room onto a school in a remote river village named Sebi between Mopti and Timbuktu; currently, many students sit outside in the hot sun as there is not enough room in the schoolroom

--Another very worthwhile project is planting trees in Dogon and if clients what to give cash donations, we make sure the trees are bought and planted by children (so no labor cost) … the desert is growing and threatening the livelihood of the Dogon people who are farmers; in Nombori the sand comes almost up to the escarpment !!

--and finally, there is a man in the Dogon village of IBI who has successfully stopped the practice of FGM (female genital mutilation) in IBI and DAGA which is a huge accomplishment … he has made a video which he shows on his television – this video has been hugely instrumental in persuading the villages to stop this practice