The sandstone cliffs of Bandiagara are a mountain chain near Mopti. They are also home to one of the Dogon people, who inhabit the area. The parts of the mountain chain near the town of Bandiagara, commonly known as the Bandiagara Escarpment, features mud villages on the slopes of the cliff. Seeing this site makes obvious why this is a UNESCO World Heritage site.
The iconic mud buildings of Djenné are on the shortlist of most visitors to Mali. And for good reason. The Great Mosque of Djenné is considered to be one of the most significant buildings in the region. There are a few other mosques from the 13th century in the area, but the Great Mosque – built in 1907 – is definitely mind blowing.
Bamako felt considerably different than Guinea, from where we just arrived by road. Everything felt bigger and more touristic. We chose the Hotel Jamana – a small hotel downtown Bamako – to settle for the night. Within walking distance was a local food store and – of utmost importance for my travel pal, Evgeny – a Chinese restaurant.
The flight on an “Royal Air Maroc” plane from Banjul to Conakry was short and comfortable. Well, as comfortable as it gets, leaving in the middle of the night and arriving in the wee hours at Conakry airport. Yes, we had our visas, didn’t have any duty-free items over the limit. So, our expectation was to clear the administrative wall swiftly upon arrival. Well, almost… Just before exit to the luggage belt, we spotted a lady in a nurse uniform, who checked the yellow-fever certificate of all arriving passengers. This was fine with me, since I had the required document. But Evgeny whispered to me that he had no such certificate.
Most of the people know The Gambia due to its funny shape on the map. Located on the West-African coast, with only one neighbouring country – Senegal, that encompasses The Gambia in the North, East and South. In fact, the country is basically a beautiful stretch of land about 10km wide on each side at the shores of the Gambia river. While being in the capital city of Banjul, Evgeny and I knew that we needed to organize a few things before we could move on to the next country.
Armed with a couple of visas, Evgeny and I decided to do a small West-Africa trip around the Year End holiday season. The planning and organisation of the trip came with a few challenges and we knew in advance that quite some flexibility is required in Africa as things never go as planned. Our plane ticket set the start and end point for our trip in the town of Dakar, Senegal. Consequently, this defined our itinerary: Driving overland in clockwise direction from Senegal to Mali to Nigeria and along the West-African coast back to Senegal. We knew that this was an ambitious plan, but we kept an open mind in terms of changing the route, as long as we could manage to visit Mali – our main focus for this trip.
After an eventful side-trip through Ethiopia, Rwanda, Uganda and Kenya, we felt we felt in need for a serious break. Evgeny, Tanya and myself were on a constant move from day one during this trip. We have slept on local buses in Uganda, searched for accommodation late at night downtown Rwanda and we slept in turns in Addis Ababa’s public places to save money. We ate local food which was tasty – but nearing the end of our trip we were craving for some serious and mostly unhealthy European food. Continue reading “Experiencing Africa from the hotel garden in Mombasa”
Nairobi has become our major hub during the East-Africa trip. Since there are a number of budget carriers located in Kenya, getting around this part of the continent is quite affordable. For instance, we did manage to buy our tickets for the Entebbe to Nairobi flight during a transit stop on our previous flight going from Addis Ababa to Kigali through Nairobi. The transit time of that flight was six hours, giving us enough time to check out various ticket desks while transferring in Kenya. Continue reading “Nairobi and Masai Mara”
Our land border crossing on the road from Kigali (Rwanda) to Kampala (Uganda) was easier than anticipated. The ceremony of getting processed at customs resembled some South American crossings during my recent trip there: Getting off the local bus, filling out immigration forms no one ever reads, queuing to get the exit stamp in the passport, walk about 500 meters across the border, filling out again customs forms that no one ever reads, bribing my way through the queuing crowd, getting the entry stamp and – finally board the bus again. All in all, this process took Evgeny, Tatjana and me about one hour. We then arrived a few hours later – notably after crossing the Equator – in Uganda’s busy capital city, Kampala. Continue reading “Sleeping policemen in Murchinson Falls National Park”