I took a trip to Mali in January this year. Our aim was the festival au desert, a Tuareg music festival north of Timbuktu in an oasis called Essakane.
Our journey was a bit ad hoc; arriving in Bamako, travelled by bus to Mopti, then boat from Mopti to Timbuktu, then 4*4 into the desert to get to the festival. On the way back we travelled via Mopti again, but headed into the Dogon country for 3 nights and four days of walking, before busing back to Bamako via Segou.
The festival was absolutely indescribably amazing, plus the fact that most of the tour groups that head out that way had been cancelled because of travel warnings in the area, so the ambiance was perfect! I particularily enjoyed evenings spent listening to the music around campfires. The people of Mali were welcoming, kind and generous, which made for a fascinating and dusty adventure (of which there are too many places/people to pick a favourite)!
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