One of the poorest countries in the world, home of some of the most incredible sights, Mali
Mali is a landlocked country in the Sahel, bordered by Algeria, Niger, Burkina Faso, Cote d'Ivoire, Guinea, Senegal, and Mauritania. Mali is a developing nation, and remains one of the poorest countries in the world. However, it has some incredible sights, including four UNESCO World-Heritage sites. And, of course, there's Timbuktu!
Here are 4 incredible places that you can't miss......
Adrar des Ifoghas
The Adrar des Ifoghas is a large plateau in the eastern Kidal region of Mali covering roughly 250 000 square kilometers. Adrar is the Tamasheq word for mountain while Ifoghas is the name of a Tuareg clan which lives in the region, the French so named it to differentiate from their (long-held) Adrar in Mauritania. The area is home to a surprising number of animals, including gazelles, antelopes, hyenas, jackals, snakes, & lizards. It contains some very scenic desert landscapes, including granite outcrops, eroded sandstone, gueltas (similar to an oasis, but less "green" around them), rock paintings, petrified wood, and even an ancient river valley.
Don't Miss these settlements:
Essouk — called by some the "cradle of the Tuareg" this tiny town was once a prospering town along trans-Saharan trade routes from the 9th to 12th cneturies; rock painting dating to 8000 BC can be found, although little remains of its ancient past. Legend holds that Boctou, founder of Timbuktu, was born here.
Tessalit - a town of a couple thousand Tuareg which serves as the border post for the small amount of traffic between Mali & Algeria; the town has some gypsum and ancient salt mines.
A beautiful region of south-central Mali renowned for its secluded villages embedded on cliffs that are up to 500m tall which were inscribed as an UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1989.
Dogon Country's villages lie among the plains, and especially the cliffs along the Bandiagara Escarpment. For obvious reasons, it's rather difficult to reach the steep cliffside villages, where the Dogons have lived to protect themselves from potentially hostile neighbors, as well as wild animals. Today, the vast majority of the population lives in the plains below the escarpment in more recently constructed villages, but the old homes remain, and are taken care of and in excellent shape.
The main reason to take on the expense and time of going to Dogon Country is to hike the many small villages that exist there, perched either up on the plateau or down in the sandy lowland. Below are the villages that are most commonly visited:
Songo - Very accessible from the main road and has luscious paintings on a cliff where they perform traditional male circumcisions. Officially, women aren't allowed in the place, but foreign women are as long as they aren't of African descent. A local guide costs 3,000 CFA. Housing is available.
Nombori - With a staggering approach through a gorge on the cliff above, Nombori is an excellent hike in for those looking to make just a day trip and see a typical village of the area that has old Telem homes in the rocks above the village. A local guide costs 3,000 CFA and is really necessary as it is quite easy to stumble in to an area that the people hold sacred. Approximately 10km round trip hike from Dourou and it is recommend to hire a local kid for 3,000 CFA to lead you down there as while the trail is good, it is easy to get lost at various points and the scramble down the cliff is arduous.
Photo by:by azurblue
Famous for its mosque, which is the biggest mudbrick building in the world. As of 1987, the city had a population of 12,000. it has been recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. UNESCO say on its website that "Djenné became a market centre and an important link in the trans-Saharan gold trade."
The town is famous for its distinctive mud-brick (adobe) architecture, most notably the Great Mosque which was built in 1907 on the site of an earlier mosque. To the south of the town is Djenné-Jéno, the site of one of the oldest known towns in sub-Saharan Africa. Djenné together with Djenné-Jéno were designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1988.
Other attractions include the tomb of Tapama Djenepo, who in legend was sacrificed on the founding of the city, and the remains of Djenné-Jéno, a major city from the 3rd century BC until the 13th century.
The weekly Monday market, when buyers and sellers converge on the town from the surrounding regions, is a key tourist attraction. There is also a daily (women's) market that takes place in a courtyard opposite the mosque.
Its long history as a trading outpost that linked black Africa below the Sahara Desert with Berber and Islamic traders throughout north Africa, and thereby indirectly with traders from Europe, has given it a fabled status. Combined with its relative inaccessibility, "Timbuktu" has come to be used as a metaphor for exotic, distant lands.
Today, Timbuktu is an impoverished town, although its reputation makes it a tourist attraction, and it has an airport. It is one of the eight regions of Mali, home to the local governor. It is the sister city to Djenne (also in Mali). Mali is divided into eight regions and a district. The location of Djenné within Mali Djenné (also Dienné or Jenne) is a city on the Bani River in southern Mali with a population of about 12,000 (in 1987).
Timbuktu is a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1988. In 1990, it was added to the list of world heritage sites in danger, due to the threat of desert sands. A program was set up to preserve the site and in 2005, it was taken off the list of endangered sites.
It was one of the major stops during Henry Louis Gates' PBS special "Wonders of the African World". Gates visited with Abdel Kadir Haidara, curator of the Mamma Haidara Library together with Ali Ould Sidi from the Cultural Mission of Mali. It is thanks to Gates that an Andrew Mellon Foundation Grant was obtained to finance the construction of the library's facilities, later inspiring the work of the Timbuktu Libraries Project. Unfortunately, no practicing book artists exist in Timbuktu although cultural memory of book artisans is still alive, catering to the tourist trade. It is also home to an institute dedicated to preserving historic documents from the region.
The city itself is in stark contrast to the rest of the country's cities, because it has more of an Arabic flair than of an African. The streets are made of sand (except one), and one has often to go down to get into the houses, because of the sand which has leveled the streets higher than the entrances of the houses.
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