Although Mali is one of the poorest countries in the world, the country has a long and glorious past. For centuries, it has been an integral part of the great African empires. Like Egypt, Mali is deeply connected with one of the greatest rivers, the Niger. The Niger, like the Nile, is a source of sustenance, the main transport artery, and the perfect place for a river cruise. The visitors to the country might be interested to travel along the Niger in magnificent and leisurely river boats, most of which were built specifically for tourism. Most travelers find this trip charming and call it one of the best ways to see the 'interior' of the country without suffering from the peculiarities of its climate.

Happy family in Mali

Bamako is the capital of one of the poorest states in the world, but despite many economic problems, overcrowding, and litter, the city has made many efforts to restore its former reputation of 'the capital of the Sahel.' It is the main urban center with major markets, shops, restaurants and hotels, located within a triangle of streets Ave du Flevit, Boulevard du People, and van Follenhofen Ave. Unfortunately, the main decoration of the city, the beautiful colonial-style Grand Marche Market, burned down in 1993. The Local National Museum is one of the best ethnographic museums in West Africa. The museum building was built in an architectural style inspired by the old masonry buildings in the ancient Djenne, and the exposition has a wide range of tapestries, ceremonial masks, funerary cult objects and weapons of the many local tribes.

Mali is the location of some of the most interesting cultural and historical sites of the continent. They include the legendary Timbuktu, and in the center of the country there is a great rock massif Bandiagara, the birthplace of the mysterious Dogon culture. One cannot even tell the number of ancient cities that are buried somewhere in the desert. Some of these ancient cities have become legends in Europe, representing all the exotic richness of Africa. Today, they are a mecca for the curious traveler.

Timbuktu is the best known of all, but unfortunately it has preserved very little of its ancient structures. In the opinion of many tourists, it is still a fascinating place. After the collapse of the empire of Mali, Timbuktu was abandoned, and the inhabitants gradually left the city. It was covered with desert sands and increasingly distanced itself from the civilized world, gaining a reputation of an inaccessible and remote place. Currently, the city has three mosques, which are considered among the oldest in the world. It is believed that they were built in the 14th century. They are not particularly impressive in terms of architecture and need a good repair, but the only thing that attracts attention to them is their age.

Jenna, on the other hand, seems frozen in time. Jenna is especially picturesque in the rainy season, when the whole country is transformed into an island surrounded by the waters of the river. The locals claim that it is the oldest city in West Africa. The buildings of the city are fascinating, with their thatched roofs and wooden shutters, windows and doors decorated with metal ornaments. The local Djenne Mosque intensifies this impression of strangeness of Jenna. It is built entirely of clay and topped by a tower-like dome which rises above the surrounding desert. This is the world's largest structure made of clay and one of the finest examples of Sudanese architecture. The only drawback of the mosque is that it tends to 'melt' in the rainy season.

Gao is an extremely hot city, but it has a very picturesque market, stunning sunsets and the tomb of Askia, the ruler of the 16th century, which is now used as a mosque.

The city of Nyon is known as the 'Venice of Mali' because of its system of canals that cross the entire city, and the local brick mosque is almost as famous as the Djenne Mosque.

See the list of Mali travel agencies to request a free travel quote. Tour operators in Mali are the travel industry experts who can provide specific services such as hotel rooms, flights, transportation, and tour guides.