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Travel Notes: Africa: Mali Travel Notes

Mali Travel Notes

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Find Mali Travel and Tourist Information with links to official travel and tourism websites and state resources for visitors to Mali.

About Mali

The Republic of Mali was a former French colony. Its capital is Bamako.

French Sudan

Countries neighbouring Mali are: Algeria, Niger, Burkina Faso, Cote d'Ivoire, Guinea, Senegal and Mauritania.

Map of Mali

Modern Mali was made part of the French colony of Haut-Senegal-Niger in 1904, and in 1920 it became the French Sudan.

On January 17, 1959, the French Sudan joined with Senegal to form the Federation of Mali; which proclaimed its independence on June 20, 1960.

The federation broke up in August. Senegal became a separate state, and the former French Sudan kept the name of Mali.

Weather in Africa:
Local weather forecasts for destinations around Africa.

Early Times in Western Sudan

In earlier times, Mali was the centre of the great empires of the western Sudan: Ghana, Mali, and Songhai.

Djenne, Timbuktu, and Gao, were the focus of trade, religious learning, and culture.

The empire of Mali reached its peak in the early 14th century under Mansa Musa.

The Songhai Empire of Gao,  took over, with kings Sunni Ali and Askia Muhammad coming to the throne.

The great Songhai Empire was in turn crushed by a Moroccan invasion in 1591.

The People of Mali

The Dogon tribe, part of the large Mandingo population in Mali, build their unique villages in cliffs and hilly areas.

Nomadic Tuaregs and other Berbers roam the Sahel and parts of the Sahara. Some of the armed Tuaregs have been known to rob or kidnap travellers in the north of Mali.

The official language of Mali is French, but the majority of the population speak Bambara or other African languages.

Islam is the main religion of Malians, although some people still follow traditional beliefs.

Mali Web:
The latest from Mali - in French.

Getting Around Mali

Mali by Road

About ten per cent of Mali's 18,000 km of roads are paved.

Mali by Rail

A railway links Koulikoro, Bamako, and Kayes with Dakar, in Senegal.

Mali by Boat

The River Niger, cutting an arc through the southern part of Mali, is a valuable communication route; connecting the mysterious outpost of Timbuktu with Bamako.

Most of the River Niger, in Mali, is navigable by small steamboats from July to January. During the rainy season it is also possible to travel down the Senegal River from Kayes to Saint-Louis, on the Atlantic Ocean.

Mali by Air

Airlines and Airports:
International airports serve Bamako and Mopti. Air Mali is the state airline.


Although little more than a village when it was occupied by French troops, in 1883, Bamako was an important centre of Muslim scholarship in the Mali Empire.

It became the capital of the colony of French Sudan in 1908 and continued as the national capital of Mali in 1960.

Today it is the focus of Malian music, and some excellent bands are staged at the Bamako Station Buffet.

Hotels in Mali:
Find hotels in Mali with special online rates.

Hotels n Bamako

Azalai Grand Hotel - Official Hotel WebsiteAzalai Hotels on FacebookAzalai Hotel Tweets
Azalai Grand Hotel:
Bp 104, Quartier du Fleuve, Bamako, Mali.

Experience the warmth and hospitality of West Africa, without foregoing the services and creature comforts you expect of top-notch hotels, at this landmark 4-star property; located in the historic heart of Bamako.

Join the Meta Travel Community to add your reviews Guests at the Azalai Grand Hotel liked the clean rooms, excellent service and great location.


Tuareg Nomads founded Timbuktu as a seasonal camp on the southern edge of the Sahara around the year 1100.

Timbuktu became an important end station of trans-Saharan caravans and a distribution point for trade along the upper Niger when it was part of the Mali Empire, and a renowned centre of Islamic study in the Songhai Empire.

The city declined in importance after the Moroccans attacked, in 1591, and commerce was diverted to other cities.

Timbuktu is still best reached  by boat or camel; making getting there something of an adventure in itself.

Mali Tours

Malian guides usually speak English, French and a variety of local languages.

Mali tour offers include sailing on the Niger River; camel caravans into the Sahara; hiking the Bandiagara escarpment; Timbuktu, Dogon country, Djenne and Mopti.

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