4 independent reviews for Cultural tour of Mali

Reviews for Cultural tour of Mali

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review 7 Feb 2015

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?

We named it the “5000 Star Hotel” under the full moon on a windy night as we told stories around a small fire. That was on the very edge of the Bandiagara Cliff in Dogon Country. The rocks and the edge of the cliffs were –right there —and the stories told and laughter were very precious. Our guide Aly and his Dogon friends made a conversation in multiple broken languages fun and enlightening. It truly felt like the mythical Shangra-La. And the rich history of Timbuktu. It’s not just a faraway mythical place! We also saw repeated mixing of old and new – slabs of salt and solar panels both for sale at the market . . . and a gentleman from Timbuktu offered to trade me a camel for my cell phone/camera. If only I could have stuffed a camel in our extra suitcase?

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?

We took a break from the road and stopped in San. “Oh no,” I thought, “not another mosque . . . “ and darned if that mosque wasn’t surrounded by acres of open space, had a particularly interesting “hearse” parked on the side, and was surrounded by newly harvested rice spread out and drying on the adjacent streets. I would have missed all that, along with the rice hulling, and the different varieties of rice. Taught me to be curious even when tired. Everywhere you look there is something new and entirely different going on. The more French you have the better, although we had to learn different greetings every so often as we moved from one tribal area to another. If you like camping you’ll get a bit of that as well as some lovely hotels and accommodations that are a mix of the two!

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

Buying indigo-dyed cotton from the ladies who made it was a special time. We saw the cotton being woven and the boys in the village preparing the cotton string to set up the loom. The whole village contributed to the cotton and indigo business. We toured the mudcloth artists’ colony in Segou and bought pieces from the artists themselves or from the Women’s Cooperative in Djenne. It was good to meet the people making the fabulous art pieces and knowing the money directly benefited them. As much as we could we tried to eat the local food, not imported or processed stuff. We ate lots of fresh fruit, dates and peanuts, too. Bottled water is required and helped us stay healthy. The empty bottles were a hot item for reuse and gifts for the children. Seems like it would be pretty hard to improve on the compost toilets built in to the mud houses. We could see that very little is wasted on our journey. It was humbling.

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?

Better than I could have possibly imagined! I’ve never traveled with a guide before and what a huge difference it made. Our guide and owner of the agency, and his network of guides really added to our understanding of the culture and traditions of Mali. We didn’t give a moment’s thought to where to go to get a good vantage point or which hotel would be safe and economical, Aly took care of all of that seamlessly. We were welcomed by everyone we met; even strangers thanked us for coming to Mali. I’m already saving up to go again!

review 4 Jan 2012

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?

I can now say that I have been to Timbouctou and back! I particularly enjoyed the three day trip on a Pinasse traveling down the Niger from Tombouctou to Mopti. Everything was very well organised, the food throughout the trip was fantastic, and not just the fish purchased from fishermen along the banks of the Niger! I loved the contrasts and the colours, from desert to rice fields along the river. Special!

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?

November is a great month to see Mali, but as soon as the sun goes down it can get cold, so make sure you bring a warm sleeping bag and clothes. Also, Aly takes you to villages along the way, and he had advised to bring T-shirts and pens along. Take quite a few, as we ran out quickly, the coloured pens were particularly popular.

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?

There are lots of interesting things to buy, I wish I had bought a home made t-shirt in Timbouctou. We saw lots of nice things, from masks to pottery, jewellery to carved statues. I did feel that the money spent would be used for local families and villages. And of course buying fish from the fishermen direct was great. You have to barter of course, so check beforehand what a good price would be.

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?

I have been in a few places in Africa, and normally we go local, this time with Aly organising everything for you, I had the most luxurious trip with fabulous hotels and great food all the way... I would highly recommend booking with Aly. In fact I'm thinking of going to some of the neighbouring countries with Aly next.

review 22 Feb 2012

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?

Meeting the locals. They were friendly and welcoming.

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?

Be prepared for long afternoon breaks, usually from 1300-1600 hrs, due to the heat.

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?

Yes. Local businesses were used and water bottles were recycled.

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?

One of the best vacations I've taken. The itinerary was well thought out and the guests were well taken care of.

review 2 Dec 2011

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?

Exploring the exotic markets.

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?

Start very low when haggling in the markets - they expect a bit of bartering - and don’t buy if you’re not totally satisfied.

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?

Yes - we dispersed gifts among local villages, which were received with great excitement, be it sweets or pens/crayons. By donating our used water bottles, the villagers could recycle them as containers for their own purposes. Through souvenir purchases we encouraged the local economy.

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?

Awesome experience. Everything I expected and more.

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