The 7 best places to visit in Mali

7. Gouina Falls

 

In the extreme west of the country close to the border with Senegal is the Gouina Falls, or Chutes De Gouina. Sometimes called the Niagara Falls of Mali, this spectacular waterfall has a single drop of 16 metres (52 ft) and is regarded to be one of the finest falls in North Africa.

6. Boucle Du Baoulé National Park

In the west of the country​, just north west of the capital, Bamako, is the 25,330 square kilometre (9,780 square mile) Boucle Du Baoulé National Park, one of the most protected reserves in Mali. As one of the sub-Saharan countries most affected by drought and over grazing by livestock, Mali has encountered enormous problems to its ecology and wildlife, with the park created to address this issue. In a landscape of desert and semi desert, it includes areas of dry lightly wooded savannah, forests and scrublands, with much of the countries animal population relying on this type of terrain for survival. Present in the park is a small population of critically endangered western chimpanzee.

5. Mount Hombori

 

In the east of the country, close to the border with Burkina Faso is Mount Hombori, a sheer cliff faced mountain with a relatively flat plateau. Surrounded by 10,000 square kilometes (3,861 square miles) of flat lands, it rises 1,155 metres (3,789 ft) above the surrounding plains, making for a fantastic sight and the highest point in Mali.

4. Bandiagara Escarpment

 

In the south of the country, running approximately 150 kilometres (93 miles) in length is the Bandiagara Escarpment, an imposing sandstone cliff that rises around 500 metres (1,640 ft) above the lower sandy flat lands. Once inhabited by the Tellem and Toloy people, many ancient structures still remain on the cliff slopes, with newer structures built by the resident Dogon people. Though it is considered one of the most imposing sights in West Africa, it is unfortunately a location where terrorist groups are known to operate, making it a very dangerous location for tourists. Because of its archaeological, ethnological and geological importance, the entire escarpment has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

3. Main De Fatima

 

In the east of the country, close Mount Hombori near the border with Burkina Faso is a rock formation known as the Main De Fatima, or Hand Of Fatima, a name given as it appears like fingers stretching to the sky. Rising 610 metres (2,000 ft) above the desert floor, it is one of the most famous and most impressive natural sights in Mali.

2. Timbuktu

 

In the southern centre of the country, having become a permanent settlement along a major trading route in the 12th century, is the ancient and sometimes mysterious city of Timbuktu. Part of the Mali Empire during the 14th and 15th centuries, its golden age with numerous Islamic scholars and extensive trading networks earned it the reputation of being one of the richest cities in Africa, in both financial and intellectual wealth. Early writers and explorers would speak of Timbuktu's fabulous wealth, its reputation shifting from being extremely rich to having an almost mythical status, a status that has lasted throughout its history. Though its mosques and monuments have been restored over the centuries, the cities historical status makes it the most well known and revered locations in Mali. Under threat from terrorism and desertification, Timbuktu has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in danger.

 

Pictured is the Sankore Madrasah.

1. Great Mosque Of Djenné

 

First built in the 13th century, in the southern centre of the country, to the east of the capital, Bamako, in the town of Djenné is the Great Mosque Of Djenné, considered by many to be the greatest achievement of the Sudano-Sahelian architectural style. Having crumbled many times throughout the centuries, the current structure was built around 1907 using sun baked earth bricks, earth based mortar and sand, undergoing extensive maintenance every year as part of a unique festival. Often mistakenly depicted as the ancient city of Timbuktu, it is itself the most recognizable landmark in Mali, one of the most famous landmarks in Africa and along with the old town of Djenné a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

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