Bicycle Mali bicycle tour, adventure travel

Bicycle Africa

Mali, Djenne, mosque (click to enlarge)

Mali Cultural Program

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Unique Programs To Special Places For Memories Of A Lifetime!

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For those seeking an escape from the Western World and experience a small dose of adventure, while meet people and gain a better understanding of the world, Mali is an excellent destination.  Ibike's Mali bicycle tour does all of this.  Program participants stay in rural villages, get off the beaten track and learn about day-to-day life in central west Africa, meet artisans, health care personnel and educators, visit historic and cultural sites, and relax under mango trees and on the river.  Highlights of the program include visits to Mopti and Djenne (a World Heritage Site), wandering in multiple markets featuring local produce, handmade textiles, traditional medicine and much more, exploring the fascinating escarpment and enclaves of the Dogon people (with its many sacred sites) (a World Heritage Site) and a truly extraordinary riverboat trip on the Niger River.

The “Mali Sahel Journey” program is a perennial favorite because of its distinctive, friendly and flourishing indigenous cultures.  Early in the trip we spend a couple days taking a lift down the Niger River on a working riverboat.  As we make friends with our fellow passengers, some heading for Timbuktu, the boat stops in town and village along the way delivering goods and picking up local produce -- to be dispatched further on.  It is a fascinating and unique experience that you will remember for a lifetime.  The bicycling is in a historic/cultural triangle bounded by Mopti, Djenne and Bankas, which only shows serious marks of Western culture at the corners.  The area is also the confluence of multiple ethic groups.  We travel village to village, sharing roads and tracks with, and learning about, the Bambara, Dogon, Peule, Songhai, Bobo, Bozo and people of other local ethnic groups.  Traditionally, each group had a distinctive role in economic life.  The architecture, lifestyle, and human activity are all incredible “eye-candy” to look at.  Making our way through this largely non-motorized society by our own non-motorized transport is a moving experience.  There is no better way to immerse yourself in the heart of Africa.  After the program participants can expand their exploration of Mali with a visit the historic city of Timbuktu (a World Heritage Site).

Bicycle Tour Fact Sheet


Schedule: October-December (see full schedule and status)  The weather in this season is generally dry.  There is still enough water in the river to take the riverboat.  Mornings are cool and afternoons are hot so we try to rise, pack, eat breakfast and start riding as soon after sunrise is practical.  Ideally we are in a village for siesta, and loaf around, journaling, refreshing ourselves and/or do light exploring on foot in the afternoon.
Program Price (lodging, two meals/day, guide, museum fees and more): US$1490 (less than six people add $100) (travel to Mali and Timbuktu extension are not included). Average out of pocket expenses per program $100 plus or minus $50 (Timbuktu extension is not included).
Description: Day 1-2: Explore Bamako. Day 3­5: Travel by riverboat on the Niger River to the commercial center of Mopti. This is one of the world's most fascinating boat trips. Day 6-7: Cycle to and visit historic Djenne, see its renowned market and mosque. Day 8-12 Cycle and walk through the isolated and beautiful Dogon country, staying in villages. Day 13-14: Return to Bamako.
[If you opt to try and visit Timbuktu - Day 14-15: fly to the ancient city of Timbuktu (Tombouctou) and return to Bamako.]
Features: Small group, self contained bicycle and boat tour. We explore the lifestyle of the 'Sahel', including a once- in-a-lifetime boat trip on the Niger River, visits to the fascinating, culturally rich Dogon/Djenne/Mopti region. We will meet members of the Bamana (agricultural), Tuareg (nomadic), Dogon (agricultural), Bozo (fishing) and Peul (pastoral) ethnic groups.
Starting/Ending Point: Bamako, Mali.
Skill Level: Suitable for fit Beginner/Intermediate/Advanced.
Mileage Daily / Total: 18-55 miles / 500km, 300 miles
Cycling Conditions: Flat, 60% paved roads, 40% dirt/sand/rock, some rough roads.
Accommodations: Small hotels and "village camping" (some rustic conditions), no bush camping. This is one of our most "off-the-beat-track" programs and will take you furthest from the influences of western civilization.
Van Support: None. Local transport is generally available.
Meals Included: Two meals per day, generally breakfast and dinner (meat, chicken, rice, beans, pasta, potatoes, tomatoes).
Other Activities: river boat, local canoe, walking (5km, 3 miles), bus
Bike: Mountain bike recommended.    Bike Rental: Not available.
Registration Information

Timbuktu Extension

Here are four options we can suggest if you are trying to visit Timbuktu:

1)  (If there is an airline) Buy a roundtrip airplane tickets from Mopti to Timbuktu in Bamako before you leave, do the cycling portion of the trip, cycle into Sevare/Mopti and stay there on the Friday night a week and a half later, leave the bikes at the hotel there and taking just an overnight kit, fly from Sevare/Mopti to Timbuktu Saturday morning, transfer from the airport into the city by van and doing an excursion of Timbuktu Saturday afternoon with a guide, flying back to Sevare/Mopti Sunday morning and then collecting the bikes and taking the bus to Bamako Sunday, arriving late evening or Monday morning.  The new plan for the group is to; cycling into Sevare Friday morning and take the first available bus to Bamako, hopefully arriving before nightfall..  The advantages are: air tickets are cheapest and you travel light.  The disadvantage is you probably won’t get to Bamako until sometime after midnight Monday morning.  In 2002, the cost were approximately: air roundtrip out of Mopti 130000 CFA; airport taxes 5000 CFA; Timbuktu tax 5000 CFA; transfers 3000 CFA, meals 5000 CFA; lodging 7000 CFA and share of the guide 2000 CFA, for a total of about 157000 CFA.  In 2002 this was about $200.  To calculate the current cost you need to know that there are 656 CFA to the euro and then check the dollar to euro exchange rate.

2)  (Problematic and requiring the airline to be operating) Stay in Sevare/Mopti Friday night, as above, fly to Timbuktu Saturday morning, with you bike as baggage and then Sunday morning, fly all the way to Bamako and be there with your bikes, having avoided the long bus ride.  The advantage of this is it is a more relaxed schedule and you avoid the long bus trip.  The disadvantage is baggage restrictions on the plane are suppose to be 20kg and if there is a small plane and a lot of bikes there may not be room for all of them.

3)  (A rush and requiring the airline to be operating) Go with the group by bus to Bamako on Friday, wake-up early on Saturday, leave your bike at the hotel in Bamako, take a van to the airport for the flight to Timbuktu, fly to Timbuktu and, Sunday, fly back to Bamako.  The advantage of this is you can fly with just an overnight kit.  The disadvantage are: air ticket is most expensive, and from getting up Friday morning, cycling into Sevare, taking the bus to Bamako, crossing Bamako from the bus station to the hotel, and then waking up and going from the hotel out to the airport, you are doing a lot of traveling and there is a good chance that you won’t get a full night sleep Friday night – though you can sleep on the flight to Timbuktu.

4)  (African travel) Go overland by 4X4.  Mopti to Timbuktu takes about 8 hours.  A car holds about 5 people.  Car and driver are about 110 Euros per day plus fuel.

5) Intergalactic, here is a NASA satellite photo of Timbuktu to help you navigate. Just joking, this is in fact not practical for most of us!  But, the photo is interesting.

If you are going to fly, you need to make a decision and buy your ticket before you leave Bamako.

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Unique Programs To Special Places For Memories Of A Lifetime!

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