Visited here April and July 2014
$1CAD = 465CFA
Transportation in Mali seems to run on two separate systems; one where there are bus stations for each bus line which run on set schedules. Africa Tours Transport is said to be a good one, and offer many long distance trips between countries. I also took TCV between Burkina and Mali, and it was fantastic, with comfortable seats and AC. The other system is the usual, show up at the station and go when the bus fills kind of thing, but with much less comfortable buses. Most transportation seems to be more expensive than other countries.
April is the hottest month and it was almost unbearable. Buy a plastic fan; they’re only 100CFA, but they are like gold.
Getting out of Senegal (and into Mali): Tambacounda to Kayes
Stayed again at the Bloc Gadec in Tamba, 4000CFA dorm, 200 mototaxi to get there
- taxi to gare routier — 1000 (it’s a bit out of town)
- 7 place to Kidira — 5500 + 1000 bag
- mototaxi through to the actual border — 1000
- Malian visa, 30 days — 20000CFA
- Transportation through border into Mali is found before you pay for the visa. I was given the prices of 5000CFA for a private taxi, 3000 for a 7 place and 2500 for a bus. I did not at first trust this information, or understand the system, so took none of these options (read about my epic fail here) and ended up hitchhiking from the border.
Where to Stay
- Once in the city, I asked for help finding a cheap hotel, and a nice guy took me on his moto to find one. He brought me first to a nice looking hotel, but it was too much for me!
- There is a Senegalese Campement on the west end of the road that runs parallel south of the river. I forgot to take the name of it, but it was fairly clean and reasonably priced — 5000CFA dbl with shared shower + toilets. Reasonably clean, but very hot.
Kayes to Bamako
- a couple guys were driving the next day, so I had the luck of going with them! They brought me directly to the hotel.
Where to Stay
- The most well-known spot is the Sleeping Camel in Badalabougou. If you need directions, you may need to say something like “Camel Sleeps”, as the name is in English, and these guys speak French. Dorm beds are 4000CFA, or you can camp for 3000 (they can provide tents too, though they may be nothing more than a mosquito net with a zipper, as seen here,) The atmosphere here is pretty chill. The grounds are well kept, the staff are lovely, the rooms clean, the wifi good, and the beers are cold. Food is a bit pricey, but looks pretty good.
- Auberge IMI has been known to be a solid competitor for budget private accommodation, but will be closing within the month. The place is still open now, but is not being kept well in the meantime.
- Auberge Djamilla is a lovely spot as well, though there is no dorm option. Rooms are a bit steep, at 10000 minimum, but could be worth the while for a more luxurious feel while still being down to earth. Check it out for a drink anyways!
Where to Eat
- Leaving the Sleeping Camel, if you cross the main road, there are a couple of breakfast joints near the corner (where the ladies sell all the fruit). Coffee and a 2-egg omelete sandwich, 400CFA.
- Across the road from that is a brown structure that is a “restaurant”. I often get spaghetti with beans for 200CFA, but she has a bunch of stuff to choose from, including rice and To.
- If you leave the hotel and keep straight on the same dirt road towards the little boutique on the left, you’ll find a lady who makes brochettes and sandwiches.
- I hear that everyone gets sick at the restaurant Amadine on the main road. I’ve also heard it’s pricey. Broadway Cafe is supposedly worth the money for a taste of home (or anything else you could possibly be craving).
- Zera (aka Sotrama Bar) in the Hippodrome has great food for 3000-4000CFA, beer for 700/1400CFA, and live music on Friday nights. Highly recommended!
- Sotrama buses (the green ones) are a hop-on hop-off kind of system, much like the trotros in Ghana. Across the bridge to town is usually 150CFA.
- I heard that a taxi in the evening to the airport should not be more than 5000, but you may need to bargain hard for it.
Bamako to Siby (Mali Highlight!)
- Taxi to Djikoroni to find a minibus to Siby — 1500-2000CFA
- Minibus to Siby — 1000CFA
Where to Stay
- Auberge Solidare (Djembe Kan Ka Di) was amazing. So chill, with wonderful people, and super comfortable, while being totally off-the-grid. A necessary escape from the noise and pollution of Bamako, even if you don’t go to see the waterfalls! — 5000CFA/night for a dbl hut. Very simple: bucket showers and no power, but they will make sure that you can charge your stuff off-site if you need to. Call Karim at +223 73 83 07 14 to make your arrangements!
- I rented motos to get to the waterfalls and the arch. 10000CFA/moto; two were needed as there were two of us plus the guide.
- The guide knew the way, but didn’t have much to say on the arch, and didn’t know a thing about climbing it – if that interests you, ask for the guys who do that stuff! You can rent gear and everything and do day trips, but I don’t know the prices.
Bamako to Segou
- waited at the general bus station for about 5 hours before the bus left. Very hot and long. Don’t sit at the back if you can avoid it. — 3500CFA + 1000 bag
- taxi to Hotel Djiboli — 1000CFA
Small town, not sure what there is to do. I swam in the river here, to the amusement of 40+ Malian children. Also took a canoe across the river to walk around, but there’s not much to see there either!
Where to Stay
- Hotel Djiboli was nice but too expensive for me — 12000CFA
- Another hotel nearby was 17000CFA
- Instead, I stayed in a tent at a guy known as Bebe’s house (random, and potentially sketchy, but was totally fine) for 4000CFA/night
Segou to Mopti
- mototaxi to gare routiere — 2500CFA
- bus: SO hot. 6 hours of burning hell — 6000CFA + 1000 bag
If you are in the real tourist mode (which I wasn’t), there are plenty of guides around who would be more than happy for a new client, as tourists are essentially non existent these days. The mosque is pretty cute. Everything is close enough to walk around.
Where to Stay
- Hotel Rose, in the centre near the gare routiere. Clean and comfortable. Negotiated to 7500CFA, dbl with net, self contained.
- I didn’t find it, but Y A Pas De Probleme sounds really nice. I’d recommend to look for it instead!
Mopti to Koutialla
- Took a bus headed to Sikasso — 7000 + 1000 bag
- Hotel Teriya has a nice courtyard, but was less clean than Hotel Rose in Mopti — again, negotiated to 7500 for a dbl, with net but shared bathrooms.
Getting out of Mali (and into Burkina): Koutialla to Bobo Dioulasso
- Visa was obtained in Bamako, or else it’s more than 90000CFA at the border!
- Walked to a minibus station near to the hotel
- minibus — 6000CFA with a random vehicle switch in the middle
Getting out of Burkina (and back into Mali): Bobo Dioulasso to Bamako
- I found two bus lines which offer this trip. Both look like great quality and are the same price, but I recommend getting there early or purchasing your ticket in advance (I learned this the hard way).
- Rakieta departs at 5am daily
- TCV departs at 6:30am daily
- both are 10000CFA, but it’s worth it.