The Republic of Mali is situated in West Africa. The eighth largest country of the continent, it covers 480,000 square miles (1,240,000 square kilometers) that are home to fourteen and a half million inhabitants. Mali is divided into eight regions and one capital district. Its capital city is Bamako.
The country has a very volatile recent past. After a coup in 1991, a new constitution was drafted as Mali became a multi-party, democratic state. Since then, there have been moments of political upheaval due to the Tuareg rebellion which staged two coups in 2012 and took over control of some of Mali’s land. The country together with the aid of France regained control of most of the territory, and a new election took place in 2013. Nonetheless, unrest continues and tourists are warned to check the political situation of any region before visiting the country.
Mali is one of the poorest nations in the world. Its economy relies mostly on agriculture and fishing. The vast majority of the citizens work in the agricultural sector, with a minority finding jobs in the service sector. Cotton is the country’s largest export. Since 1999, the government has eased up on restrictions on mining, so the country is now the third largest African producer of gold. The land also contains a lot of uranium, phosphate, kaolinite, salt and limestone.
Due to French colonial rule in the late nineteenth century, Mali’s official language is French. Eighty percent of the population also speaks Bambara. In addition, there are tens of other African languages spoken among the inhabitants.
Travelers can access the region via one of the numerous airports. There is also a railway connecting the country to the neighboring nations. Within Mali’s borders, tourists can move about using taxis, renting cars, or via public transportation.
The budget-minded visitor can find a handful of hostels and other inexpensive accommodations within cities including Bamako, Mopti, Timbuktu, and Ségou. The average hostel in Mali is very affordable, clean, guarded and safe. Although electricity is not provided to all of the inhabitants, you can expect to have electricity in your hostel. Even those accommodations found in the sparsely inhabited areas have electricity via solar panels. Many locations even provide wifi. Since the region is one of the hottest in the entire world, many hostels and hotels provide a cold pool for cooling off. Other amenities may include a restaurant on the premises as well as a friendly atmosphere with music.
There are quite a lot of adventures to add to your Mali itinerary. You can opt to take a camel ride, see hippos in the Niger River, and marvel at beautiful mosques such as the Great Mosque of Djenné, a magnificent architectural creation made of mud and a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1988. In the capital, you can visit the national park, zoo, and museum.
To experience the authentic charm of the country, you can take a trek off the beaten path to the Dogon Country in Mopti. Once you have made it past the unpaved, rocky paths, be sure to have a guide take you around to provide you with native insight as well as steer you away from sacred areas that are off-limits. Hiking tours as well as four-wheel-drive excursions are available to show you the magic of this unique landscape and people. Be sure to wear sturdy shoes and breathable clothing. Do not carry unnecessary belongings. You will visit many different villages, each with its own charm. In Tirelli, you will be treated to a beautiful mask dance. In Hombori, the women might present you with another type of dance. You can view the painted walls in Songo and see a natural tunnel in Bongo. Do not miss the chance to admire the houses inside the cliffs along the Bandiagara Escarpment. Day after day, you will experience the culture, art and beauty of different villages. By nighttime, they will invite you to sleep on their rooftops under the stars. The welcoming fee you pay to each village will be used for good causes such as the local schools. You further can support the people by purchasing some of their indigo crafts, wooden sculptures, and other art, all of which make ideal souvenirs along with your unforgettable memories.
Hi, I'm Jakob Lombardi,
the Hostelz.com local expert for Mali hostels. Welcome.