Skip to Content

Best & Fun Things To Do + Places To Visit In Mali. #Top Attractions

Best & Fun Things To Do + Places To Visit In Mali. #Top Attractions

Is Mali on your list of potential vacation spots? For the best travel experience in Mali, check out our curated list of things to do in Mali and the best places to visit in Mali below. Wondrous Drifter is a Web 3.0 startup in the tourism industry that aims to disrupt the industry as a whole by utilizing Web 3.0 technologies.

Antogo Fishing Frenzy

Antogo Fishing Frenzy, Mali

Image for illustration puporses only

The quicker you are, the more the fish.

Every year, people of the Dogon rush to the sacred Antogo Lake in Mali. In a frenzy of movement, the Dogon frantically reaches into the water, hoping to catch a fish.

The lake itself is rare in a country dominated by the Sahara desert and the Sahel’s dry steppes, which adds to its significance and holiness. Although the lake is sacred, it is small and muddy, and the Dogon fishermen drain it of all its residents within minutes.

Fishing in the lake is prohibited throughout the year. Following the lifting of the prohibition, fishermen flock to the lake to catch anything they can during the brief Antogo fishing frenzy.

The frenzy occurs in Mali during the dry season when the fish are easier to catch in the shrinking lake. The ritual heavily depends on ancestor worship, and women are forbidden from partaking, as are other Dogon rites.

Even though women are not permitted to participate in the festivities, tradition has it that a young woman discovered the lake and its miracle fish, sparking a chain of ceremonial fishing in the desert pool. Regardless, the Antogo festival is a spectacle unlike any other worldwide opening day for fishing.

Don’t miss out on a chance to experience the Antogo Fishing Frenzy now.

Address: Koro, Mali

Bamako

Bamako, Mali

Bamako, Mali / Alexandre Baron / Flickr

Walk the busy streets of the country’s capital.

Prepare your haggling valves and shopping glands for a journey to Bamako, Mali’s largest and most frantic city, where bazaars sell everything from handcrafted folklore figurines to piles of aromatic spices.

This vast metropolis of more than 1.5 million people is indisputably likable as the nation’s capital.

This is the country’s capital, and it was formerly considered one of the world’s fastest-growing cities. This is where the majority of Mali’s administrative activities take place, as well as some of the country’s most notable structures.

Some regions of Bamako include evidence of settlements dating back to the Palaeolithic epoch, indicating that this city has a long history. This is most likely due to the city’s proximity to the Niger River Valley, where people could grow a plentiful food supply and trade.

It has a pulsing vitality and a distinct lived-in vibe. The nightlife pulses to a symphony of West African samba; on weekends, the jazz bars are full of beer drinkers; fried plantains sizzle on grills from one neighborhood to the next; traffic toots and tuk-tuks purr!

Be sure to stroll around Bamako on your next trip to Mali.

Address: Bamako, Mali

Bandiagara Escarpment Cliff Dwellings

Bandiagara Escarpment Cliff Dwellings, Mali

Bandiagara Escarpment Cliff, Dwellings, Mali / TREEAID / Flickr

See these dwellings that defy all-natural boundaries.

Over 100 miles from Mali, Bandiagara is a natural wonder in and of itself. These cliffs reach over 1,500 feet in parts and cover a wide range of terrain, from desert to cascading waterfalls plunging into the plains below.

However, the Dogon dwellings cut into the cliff are almost as stunning as the environment. Although various cultures lived in the area, the Dogon people have called Southern Mali home for over 600 years, sculpting everything from simple rectangular dwellings on the cliffs to intricate Mosques built of mud and stick. The Dogon have made a significant contribution to the region.

The entire concept of their community is breathtaking, as homes hang from the cliffs, defying all natural boundaries.

 Some of the communities are barely visible since they blend in with the surrounding rocky cliffs. Others stand out solely because of their thatched roofs, which protrude from the sand and rock.

The Bandiagara is heavily punctuated in every way. The escarpment climbs dustily from the meager Sahel vegetation below, and Dogon village dwellings dot the cliffs for miles until the escarpment ends at Hombori Tondo, Mali’s highest peak.

Visit the Bandiagra Escarpment Cliff Dwellings today.

Address: Bandigara, Mali

Boucle du Baoulé National Park

Boucle du Baoulé National Park, Mali

Boucle du Baoulé National Park, Mali / Holger Wirth / Flickr

Be amazed by everything you see on a safari at this national park.

The Boucle du Baoulé National Park, which spans approximately one million hectares in the heart of West Africa’s wildlife-rich Sudano-Guinean zone, is certainly one of the Malian hinterland’s gems.

The territory is located near Kayes and is characterized by towering ridges of Sahelian rocks and the ruins of numerous prehistoric troglodyte villages.

Although the vegetation is split into different bio-geographic regions, Sudan Guinea in the south and the Sahelian zone in the north, the park is mostly covered in West African Savannah. Combretum shrubs, Savannah forests, and a deep rain forest on the banks of the Baoule River make up the rest of the park.

The park was founded in 1982 and has been recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since September 1999.

Saharan gazelles, sheep, huge eland, goats, and a variety of other creatures can all be found in the park.

See ruins, animals, and sights you’ll cherish forever when you visit Boucle de Baoule National Park.

Address: QRQC+XVX, Bambaran, Mali

Djenne

Djenne, Mali

Djenne, Mali / Göran Höglund (Kartläsarn) / Flickr

A settlement here dates back to 250 B.C.

The old city of Djenné is one of the most impressive sights in all of Mali if not all of north-western Africa.

It is recognized for its unusual mud-brick architecture and lengthy history as a stop on the historical caravan routes across the Sahel and Sahara, with the adobe rises of one spectacular Great Mosque in the middle.

Even though it is a rebuild of an older mosque, the enormous worshipping place in its core bears witness to Djenné’s status as a revered religious center. Neighboring archaeological digs at Djenné-Djenno have revealed the town to be one of the oldest in the entire Niger basin.

The town boomed during the 15th and 16th centuries, thanks to the transit of minerals and valuable metals. Djenné was an important marketplace and conduit to the trans-Saharan gold trade.

Apart from its economic importance, Djenné had an important role in the spread of Islam in the country. Some of the city’s medieval Islamic architecture can still be seen today.

See unique architecture when you visit Djenne in Mali.

Address: Djenne, Mali

Djingareyber Mosque

Djingareyber Mosque, Mali

Djingareyber Mosque, Mali / upyernoz / Flickr

This unique mosque has seen it all.

“Timbuktu” has been shorthand for a destination so far away that it’s almost unreachable—or perhaps even imaginary—since word of the alleged “city of gold” arrived in Europe in the mid-1500s.

The Djingareyber Mosque is a holy monument and learning institution erected in 1327. Being 1 of 3 mosques that form the University of Timbuktu, it is still in existence nowadays. It is also one of the mythical settlement’s most famous icons.

Over the last eight centuries, the Djingareyber Mosque, which is almost entirely made of mud, straw, and wood, has survived a series of wars, conflicts, and political upheavals. The most recent of these was in 2012 when radical Islamists took control of the city and terrorized the local populace.

After capturing control of Timbuktu, militants soon imposed their harsh brand of Sharia law, stoning women for failing to dress modestly and chopping off the hands of musicians caught breaking the dictatorial ban on all forms of music. 

They quickly turned their attention to Timbuktu’s rich cultural artifacts, especially its ancient Muslim shrines, which they declared to be prohibited by Islam. In early 2013, French soldiers tasked to recapture Timbuktu drove the Islamists out of the city.

Take a trip to the Djingrayber Mosque when in Timbuktu, Mali.

Address: Timbuktu, Mali

Gadaffi Canal

Gadaffi Canal, Mali

Image for illustration puporses only

This is another unusual attraction in Mali.

In 2006, Muammar Gaddafi, while still the dictator of Libya, paid a visit to Timbuktu, Mali, to commemorate the Prophet Muhammad’s birthday. After calling himself the city’s imam, he attracted hundreds of people to the city to pray with him in a soccer stadium. 

Gaddafi publicly declared Timbuktu to be his favorite city and spoke of his grand aspirations to use his vast wealth to improve the city’s plight. He spent millions of euros renovating a run-down hotel on the outskirts of town. 

He also created an 8-mile (13-kilometer) canal connecting the hotel to the river Niger south of the city to allow guests to arrive by boat.

Gaddafi was toppled and killed by rebels as a result of the Arab Spring in 2011 and the NATO-led bombardment of Libya. Gaddafi’s efforts in Timbuktu began to crumble as a result of these events. The canal soon became clogged and dry.

As if that wasn’t bad enough, when the canal flooded, it became a death trap for locals. What was originally a small natural branch of the Niger River had been transformed into a deep canal with steep, slippery sandy walls, making it impossible for humans and animals to escape.

See the ruins of a supposedly shining city.

Address: Gaddafi Canal, Timbuktu, Mali

Gao

Gao, Mali

Image for illustration puporses only

If you like to travel through time in Mali, visit this historic city.

Gao is one of the oldest trading centers in Western Africa, having been founded by fishermen in the 7th century.

In the early 11th century, Gao became the Songhai Empire’s capital.

The town developed as a major trans-Saharan commerce center for gold, copper, slaves, and salt under Songhai control.

In 1325, the rulers of the Mali empire seized Gao, but the Songhai reclaimed it 40 years later. 

Built in 1495, the tomb of Songhai emperor Askia Mohamed depicts Gao’s prosperity under the Songhai as well as regional mud-building customs. 

Because of the possibility of armed conflict in the area, the structure, which was named a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2004, was reclassified to the organization’s list of endangered properties in 2012.

Gao is an ideal starting point for anyone wanting to learn more about Mali’s earthy past, including its unique Sahel Museum and ancient tombs originating from the 15th century.

Come and check out this historic city when in Mali.

Address: Gao, Mali

Great Mud Mosque of Djenne

Great Mud Mosque of Djenne, Mali

Great Mud Mosque of Djenne, Mali / Ralf Steinberger / Flickr

This one-of-a-kind mosque is a famed icon of the country.

The Great Mosque rises from the heart of Djenné, Mali. Everything about the building, from the minarets to the spired walls, is made of mud.

Since the 14th century, the entire ancient town of Djenné has been built using this mud architecture, which has been passed down from generation to generation.

The procedure entails baking mud and straw bricks in the sun and stacking them to form mud-plastered walls.

Like the city’s other 200 historic homes, the mosque requires frequent re-plastering to maintain its shape.

The mud architecture of Djenné has been threatened by recent political upheavals and drought, as has the emergence of more modern building materials. 

However, while some mosques in Mali have added electricity and other technologies, the residents of Djenné are committed to their traditional edifice, which has simply a loudspeaker system.

Make sure to check out this mosque on your next adventure to Mali.

Address: Djenne, Mali

Those who follow the crowd usually get lost in it. Create your own path. Unfold your map, and find the next travel destination. Kick off your world travel by checking out our travel round the world guide. When traveling the world, you can’t skip the United States. There Is No Place Like America. Click here for the state to travel in USA.

Hombori

Hombori, Mali

Hombori, Mali / David Sessoms / Flickr

Go on an adventure and see this amazing natural wonder in Mopti!

Mount Hombori, a massive granite cliff rising from the Sahelian savannahs of south-central Mali, is West Africa’s equal to Uluru.

It is in the Mopti Region is Mali’s highest point at 1,153 meters.

The mountain, which has an impassable tableland at the top, is an important archaeological site because it contains caves that were occupied over 2,000 years ago. 

Furthermore, with its unique flora and wildlife, it has long drawn a great number of travelers, owing to its proximity to the main tourist destinations of Timbuktu, Djenne, and Dogon Country.

The vast bluff is perhaps the main draw, and visitors are flocking to try their 4X4 adventures into its sands.

Likewise, since archaeologists usually excavate the mountain’s subterranean caves, thus visitors could learn about the region’s intriguing history.

Have an adventure of a lifetime when you come to see Mount Hombori. Visit now.

Address: Mount Hombori, Mopti, Mali

Kayes

Kayes, Mali

Image for illustration puporses only

Come and visit this lovely town.

Kayes, which is defined by the Senegal River’s meanders, continues to bustle and throb with market traders and salesmen.

It is a town in western Mali, Africa. It is situated alongside the Sénégal River.

Kayes is an important halt on the Mali Railway as well as the Sénégal River’s endpoint.

This was, in fact, the town’s major focus, which was established by the French in the 1880s to simplify the movement of goods among West African countries.

Moreover, tourists can take in the bustling ambiance, shop for tiny trinkets and bright produce at the market, and unwind with a cup of coffee under the shady archway reminiscent of Paris.

The Félou Falls, Gouina Falls, and the foundations of Medina Fort are few of the many sites that can be seen outside of the city.

There are lots to see at Kayes, so don’t forget to check it out when in Mali.

Address: Kayes, Mali

La Dune Rose

La Dune Rose, Mali

Image for illustration purposes only

Enjoy your dusk or dawn at La Dune Rose, and watch the color of the formation change as the light moves. 

A journey to La Dune Rose, also known as Koma, a beautiful sand dune on the right bank of the Niger visible from town, is Gao’s most popular tourist attraction.

 There is magic in the air as it becomes pink with the setting sun, not least since it was long thought to be the home of magicians by locals.

You can also climb to the top of the dune and look down on the river, which is only a few feet away. If you rent a boat, you may view the dune from the river’s surface, providing you with the greatest view of the area. Slide down the dune and feel the warm sand between your toes for a thrilling descent. 

Consider hiring a pirogue to drift further along the river as the dunes come alive if you’re going here (only doable from September to February when water levels allow). 

More beautiful dunes may be found upstream at Quema and Hondo (a three-hour excursion), and hippo sightings are nearly certain at Tacharan.

Have an amazing time when you visit the La Dune Rose in Mali now.

Address: La Dune Rose, Gao, Mali

Mopti

Mopti, Mali

Mopti, Mali / Jurgen / Flickr

This is what city life is like in Mali.

Mopti has established itself as one of Mali’s most important riparian ports, straddling the Bani River’s courses just a stone’s throw from where that desert-shrouded tributary meets the great Niger.

But the city is more than simply a riverside trading post; it’s also the entryway to the Dogon tribal regions, which are studded with adobe settlements and home to the Bandiagara Escarpment’s semi-nomadic people.

The Mopti region is Mali’s major port and commercial center.

Visitors to the region are drawn to the bustling marketplaces, active river port, and little fishing villages. 

The Grand Mosque of Mopti, erected in the early twentieth century, is another important Sudano-Sahelian architectural relic.

In Mopti, there are dozens (if not hundreds) of tour operators offering treks into the vast hinterland for cultural interactions, as well as boat trips to Timbuktu and scenic tours of the marketplaces and large central mosques.

Feel the hustle and bustle of the city here at Mopti.

Address: Mopti, Mali

Niger River

Niger River, Mali

Niger River, Mali / Julien Harneis / Flickr

Western Africa’s biggest river flows in a crescent through Niger, Benin, Mali, and Nigeria. 

Mali is home to a variety of ethnic groups, some of which choose the Niger River as their home since it provides a significant source of income.

The river and wetlands provide a vital water source for Mali, which is landlocked and generally dry.

Mopti and Djenné, both near the Niger River, are still populated by people of several ethnic groups. If you want to interact with Malians authentically, go to one of these two places.

For many years, it has served as the region’s principal transportation and fishing, and farming routes. Its waters give a gorgeous backdrop to many of Mali’s cities and towns, and it’s a great site to take photos.

Around the river, there’s even a music festival where Mali’s top performers congregate now and then.

See amazing views of the lifeblood of Mali now.

Address: Niger River, Mali

Sahara Desert

Sahara Desert, Mali

The Sahara Desert, Mali / cattan2011 / Flickr

See the biggest desert in the world here in Mali.

There was a time in West Africa when large kingdoms traded gold, salt, enslaved people, spices, and other valuable goods. 

The Sahelian kingdoms were the name given to these countries. On the upper Niger, Mali was home to one of these rich and extensive Sahelian kingdoms.

Djenné and Timbuktu became the center of trade and Islamic study, and they still survive today as a tribute to the medieval kingdom’s greatness.

The empire fell apart due to internal warfare, and the establishment of sea channels by European traders led to the loss of the trans-Saharan trade route.

European conquerors established their rule across Africa in the nineteenth century, and the French took control of Mali.

Lying between the Sahel and the Sahara Deserts, Mali is a melting pot of ethnicities and religious beliefs.

You can visit the Pink Dune, which is the highest point along the Niger River if you choose.

This is particularly lovely around sunset when it turns a lovely shade of pink.

To get there, you may need to hire a boat to cross the Niger River before hiking up the sand mountain.

See the Sahara Desert in Mali now!

Address: Mali

Segou

Segou, Mali

Segou, Mali / Göran Höglund (Kartläsarn) / Flickr

Ségou is a small town with a population of slightly over 130,000 people.

It was formerly the pulsing heart of the Bambara Kingdom, which dominated over central Mali until around the turn of the nineteenth century.

Although its power and capital status are no longer there, the city retains a few remnants from that era.

Ségou is known as “the city of balanzans,” after a tree that grows abundantly within the city (acacia albida). It is situated on the Niger River’s bank.

Visit the grave of Biton Mamary Coulibaly, the former Bambara ruler, or the lively port sides, which were once the town’s trading dynamo.

Ségou is also well-known for its lovely French colonial architecture.

This can be found in a mishmash of Parisian facades and charming governmental houses that line the inner streets.

Visit Segou now when in Mali.

Address: Segou, Mali

Sikasso

Sikasso, Mali

Sikasso, Mali / Agence MEDIAPROD / Flickr

Enjoy visiting this vibrant city.

Sikasso is a city in Mali’s southern region. Before becoming the capital of the Kingdom of Kénédougou in the late nineteenth century, Sikasso was a little village.

It is now a major cotton ginning and textile production center. A road connects Sikasso to Bamako, the capital of Mali.

Lowland valleys can be found in the middle region, while flat-topped sandstone plateaus can be found in the east and west.

Sikasso, Mali’s southernmost region, is known for its fruits and vegetables. The majority of people in the region work in agriculture because of the abundant rains. 

Subsistence agriculture (sorghum, rice, and corn) occupies a large portion of the land; cash crops such as tea and cotton are also farmed.

Sikasso is known for its mangoes, as well as a bustling outdoor market. Cattle are shipped in large quantities to Côte d’Ivoire (Ivory Coast), while gold is mined in Kalana.

The predominant population of the region is the Bambara and Senufo people. The capital city, often known as Sikasso, is fast expanding as more people flee the Ivory Coast’s conflict. 

Don’t forget to check out Sikasso on your next visit to Mali.

Address: Sikaso, Mali

Timbuktu

Timbuktu, Mali

Timbuktu, Mali / upyernoz / Flickr

Visit one of the most historic cities in all of Africa.

The historic city of Timbuktu is located 20 kilometers north of the Niger River.

By the 14th century, what began as a seasonal village in the 12th century had grown into an important section of the Mali Empire. 

The city’s growth was aided by commerce in gold, ivory, enslaved people, and salt, which established it as a prominent learning and cultural center.

Timbuktu is no longer the baffling, perplexing conundrum it once was, yet there are reminders of the past.

However, when trade routes altered throughout the years, the city went into decay, and now it is a land that bears little relation to its former greatness. 

Timbuktu is home to three of West Africa’s oldest mosques, as well as historical manuscripts and books kept at the Ahmed Baba, Centre de Recherches Historiques, and other libraries.

Be sure to put Timbuktu on your list of must-visits when in Mali.

Address: Timbuktu, Mali

Timbuktu Manuscripts

Timbuktu Manuscripts, Mali

Timbuktu Manuscripts, Mali / UNESCO Africa / Flickr

See ancient manuscripts in the former ‘City of Books.’

Thousands of ancient manuscripts have been acquired in Timbuktu, Mali. This renowned city was built 900 years ago as a trading center in West Africa.

Many of these manuscripts survived the city’s fall, hidden in cellars or buried, hidden between the mosque’s mud walls and kept by their sponsors.

They are now part of a group of libraries in Timbuktu that house up to 700,000 manuscripts.

Some were written in the town itself, while others (such as unique Qur’an copies for wealthy households) were imported via the bustling book trade.

Timbuktu was originally a bustling Saharan commerce center and the site of a prominent institution, l’Université de Sankoré de Tombouctou, which is thought to be one of the world’s first. Back then, it was nicknamed the “City of Books.”

The manuscripts, which date back to the 13th century, are written in several forms of Arabic script.

These patterns emerged in Timbuktu and neighboring Mali and West African regions.

Furthermore, Ahmed Baba Institute houses Timbuktu’s biggest single collection of manuscripts, with over 18,000 in total.

The rest can be found in the city’s numerous private libraries and collections.

Don’t forget to see these city’s prized possessions when in Timbuktu, Mali.

Address: Timbuktu, Mali

Tomb of Askia

Tomb of Askia, Mali

Image for illustration purposes only

Check out this tomb dating back to the 14th century.

In 1495, Askia Muhammad, the Emperor of Songhai, erected the Askia Tomb.

The striking and noticeably spiky-looking pyramidal mausoleum is part of a complex that also comprises two flat-roofed mosque structures, the mosque cemetery, and an open-air assembly area in Gao, Mali, near the Niger River.

In 1493, Askia Muhammad, a West African statesman, and military leader, ascended to the Songhai Empire’s throne.

He was a skillful king who established an effective administrative structure throughout his vast empire, which was one of the largest in African history. 

Askia Muhammad was a devout man who quickly established Islam as the aristocrats’ religion.

When Gao was designated as the Empire’s official capital and Islam was declared the official religion, Muhammad ordered the construction of the Tomb of Askia.

Moreover, its complex’s centerpiece is a 56-foot-tall pyramidal structure that is now regarded as the best-preserved example of the Songhai Empire’s colossal mud-building traditions.

This pyramid is a definite must-see on your next adventure to Mali.

Still wondering if you should visit Mali? Check out reasons to visit Mali at least once in your lifetime here.

Address: Avenue des Askia, Gao, Mali