West Africa's major destination and the jewel in the region's crown, Mali is a rapidly developing but still surreal place to explore; Mali holidays showcase the fascinating mix of cultures and attractions available here.
The capital Bamako is the place to hunt for bargains at pavement market stalls. The centre for Mali's music scene, it's also a vibrant city to spend time in. Elsewhere, the town of Timbuktu is virtually a by-word for remoteness and adventure. Formerly a prestigious centre of trade and learning, camel caravans still make their way here from the salt mines in the Sahara.
The commercial town of Djenné, known as the ‘Jewel of the Niger' is celebrated for the mud-brick buildings found here. The greatest of them, the improbable Grand Mosque, is the largest mud building in the world; there's a superb weekly market beneath the mosque walls as well.
The Niger itself is one of West Africa's great waterways. Take a river cruise up river into the interior and follow in the footsteps of legendary explorers who went in search of the source of the river.
Dogon country is a wild region, where local people maintain distinct, ancient traditions. Hike through the landscape to see timeless, traditional villages and witness locals wearing their traditional masks as a symbol of their culture.
At a glance
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