Museums, zoos and botanical gardens are among the many Bamako attractions. Bamako is the capital city of Mali, situated by the river Niger. The river Niger with its tributaries has significantly contributed to the development of Bamako. The traditional commercial center of Bamako is polluted and highly congested. The cost of living is high in this city.
The tourist attractions of Bamako attract hundreds of travelers from around the world. One of the major tourist spots in Bamako is the National Library of Mali. This library holds more than 60,000 works including periodicals, audio documents, videos, software and many more. These are available to the public for free or can be borrowed with a minimum subscription. The famous National Museum is one of the major Bamako attractions. This anthropological and archaeological museum exhibits the history of Mali. It allows a glimpse into the musical instruments, dress and ritual objects used by the various ethnic groups of Mali.
The Muso Kunda Museum and the Bamako Regional Museum are the other two museums in the city. The Muso Kunda Museum displays traditional clothing and everyday household objects used by the Mali women. The Bamako zoo has a staggering variety of animals, which can amuse and entertain the tourists. The Bamako Botanical Gardens is a treasure trove of a wide variety of trees. Some are unique to this region. The Point G hill is another major tourist attraction in Bamako where primitive caves contain rock paintings. The hippodrome in Bamako has bars, food stores, restaurants and hotels. Embassies of many countries are located in the hippodrome of Bamako.
The Grand Mosque and the Tomb to Tupama Djenepo are the main Djenne attractions. Djenne is located on the floodplains of Bani and Niger River in the southwest of Timbuktu. Old Djenne and the Grand Mosque were declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1988. Old Djenne is famous for its mud brick architecture. Over 2,000 houses in this vernacular architecture are located on hillocks as protection from seasonal floods.
The Great Mosque in Djenne is one of the most important Djenne attractions. It dominates the old town. It is built in a typical Sudanic style. Sun baked mud bricks have been used in its construction. The mosque looks like a huge sand castle with three huge turrets and wooden poles sticking out. After each rainy season, maintenance work is carried out for the spring festival. This work is a community affair and is undertaken with a great zeal. The wooden turrets sticking out of the structure enable the workers to scale the monument for restoration. A traditional African market is located around the mosque’s vicinity.
The Grand Marche (market) is held every Monday near the mosque. Thousands of traders from different regions in Africa take part in this colorful market.
The Tomb of Tupama Djenepo and the ruins of Jenne Jeno are two other tourist attractions in Djenne, which are worth visiting. Jenne Jeno was an ancient city of the 3rd century BC. According to legend Tupama Djenepo was sacrificed on the founding of the city of Djenne.
A large number of tourists flock here every year to witness the various attractions of Djenne. Djenne as a city was a center for propagation of Islam. Being a World Heritage Site it is a ‘must see’ in the list of leisure tourists and historians.
Djenne’s Great Mosque
Djenne’s Great Mosque, built in Sudano-Sahelian architectural style is the largest mud brick building in the world. Sitting beside the Bani River, Great mosque of Djenne is a famous landmark in the continent of Africa. In 1988, Djenne’s Great Mosque was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Although the present Mosque of Djenne is considered as an architectural wonder, it is not the original one. In 13th century, Koy Konboro built Djenne’s first Great Mosque. The old mosque in 19th century was abandoned and fell into ruin because of inner conflict between several groups. Between 1906 and 1907, the present Djenne Mosque was constructed on the site of the previous mosque.
This Great Mosque in Djenne was built up of mud mortar, mud bricks and mud plaster. The specialty of the building is that if regularly maintained, the mud structure will last for centuries. Every year, during the celebration of a festival, the community of Djenne assembles together and engage themselves in repairing the Mosque. Although the festival includes music and food, the prime target is to repair the structure. According to a popular custom, the festival begins with a race to bring the mud plaster to the Great Mosque. During the market days, the Great Mosque of Djenne is flooded by vendo
Gao attractions mostly revolve around the historical remnants of the city. Gao in Mali has always served as the major center for trade and education. Gao is also well connected with the important cities of Djenne and Timbuktu. The city has also earned fame for being one of the most important tourist destinations in Mali.
Attractions in Gao
Tomb of Askia is the most important attraction of Gao. Constructed by Askia Mohamed, the tomb of Askia is the witness to the supremacy and treasures of the great Empire that flourished during the 15th and 16th century. The monument represents the mud building, which are the customs of West African Sahel. The whole building has pyramid like tomb cemetery, assembly hall and two flat roofed buildings.
Besides the tomb, the Gao Kankan Moussa Mosque is also another popular tourist attraction in Gao. The city has flourishing markets. The tourists can enjoy shopping in the night markets. The sizzling night life of Gao is worth enjoying.
Tourists can also enjoy the various cruises available in the city. La Boucle de Baoule national park in Gao features some exotic collection of wild life, which mesmerizes tourists of all age.
The numerous Gao attractions attract tourists not only from Mali, but tourists from all across the world visit the city throughout the year.
Pays Dogon and the Grand Mosque of Mopti are the two main Mopti attractions. Mopti is popularly known as the ‘Venice of Mali’. Mopti settlements are built in the confluence of the Bani and the Niger River. The city lies on the three islands, which are interconnected by dykes.
Mopti is an active river port, and is popular among tourists for its beautiful landscape. Small fishing villages are also located around Mopti. The Grand mosque tops the list in Mopti attractions. The mosque is an earthen structure built in a typical Sudanese style between 1936 and 1943. The mosque was at a serious risk of collapsing until The Aga Khan Trust for Culture undertook its restoration. It was restored in 2006.
Mopti is basically a Dogon country. Dogon art form serves everyday needs as well as ritualistic functions. The knowledge of Dogon art is passed as inheritance from the elders to the younger ones. The purpose of this art is to preserve the traditional art. These are mainly wood sculptures although many pieces are made out of stone and forged metal. These exclusive art pieces, having symbolic meaning are hidden from the public eye inside the houses.
Trekking is one of the major attractions of Mopti. Popular Dogon treks are arranged in the villages along the Bandiagara Escarpment. These treks are specially arranged with the mission to bring the tourists close to the people in these Dogon villages and to find more about this primitive art form. These thrilling trekking experiences lend an insight into the elaborate rituals finding their way of expression in the form of this art. The communities over here have kept their tradition, religious beliefs and customs intact.
The villages along the escarpment are also fascinating. Symbolic designs from mythology are intricately carved in the doors and the windows. The conical mud covered granaries are fascinating pieces of architecture. The granaries are placed on elevated stone plinth for protection against pests. Each house has an ancillary squat dry stone thatched building where older males gather to socialize.
These tourist attractions in Mopti take tourists to a bygone era of the primitive inhabitants of Africa. Tourists are provided with special guides who know the local language.
The Sankore Mosque and the huge library inside it are the main Timbuktu attractions, which are frequently visited by tourists. Today, though, Timbuktu is an impoverished town, once it was the center of learning and the seat of propagation of Islam. It is also a home to the local governor.
Attractions of Timbuktu
The Sankore Mosque, which is also the university, was a famous seat of learning during the early 15th century. Many educational institutions were constructed in and around it. The University of Sankore was basically a madrassah. It was composed of several independent colleges, each run by a single master who was known as the ‘imam’. The classroom concept did not exist in these madrassahs. The course was taken inside the open courtyard of the mosque.
The library of Timbuktu inside the mosque is one of the unique Timbuktu attractions, which the tourists should not miss. The manuscripts inside the library contain detailed information about how Timbuktu reached its zenith of glory in the past. These stand as testaments to each and every aspect of human endeavor, adopted by the West Africans at that time.
The Djinguereber Mosque, one of the major Timbuktu tourist attractions is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It flourished as another center for learning in 1327. It is one of the registered madrassahs under the University of Sankore. The architecture is exclusive and the mosque is made of mud and organic materials like straw, wood and fiber. Inside the mosque three inner courts are built to accommodate 2,000 people for prayers. Twenty five rows of pillars running east west direction support the structure.
Sidi Yayha mosque is another typical mud mosque bearing close resemblance to the other two mosques. However, its doors are ornately decorated showing the influence of Morrocon architecture. The mosque is yet another madrassah under the Sankore University. It is named after its first imam, Sidi Yahya Tadlesi. A museum and a tower are among other major tourist attractions of Timbuktu.
The tourists can also enjoy a camel ride to a nearby Tuareg camp. Spending one night with the indigenous nomads is a fulfilling experience. The Tuareg women arrange for dance shows and different cultural programs in these camps. For adventure enthusiasts, hiking up and over the Dogon cliffs is a thrilling experience.
Timbuktu, in its name conjures up mystical and curious ideas about an ancient city. However, the desolate city with its typical mud brick architecture is a real city in Mali, and a favorite tourist haunt for people travelers visiting West Africa.