West Africa private tour

This item appears on page 36 of the April 2008 issue.
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My husband and I shared many of the same adventures as the writer of the article “Intrepid Travelers Begin Their Overland Journey through West Africa in Mali” (Dec. ’07, pg. 46). However, we used an alternative travel mode, riding in a private, air-conditioned SUV with an English/French-speaking guide and driver and staying at the best available hotels.

We engaged Assou of Saga Tours (B.P. E-1884, Bamako, Mali, West Africa; phone/fax +223 220 2708, www.sagatours.com), to arrange our tour of Mali, Burkina Faso, Ghana, Togo and Benin, March 8-25, 2007.

Booked at 2006 rates, our 5-country, 18-day/17-night land tour cost $6,419 per person, not including international airfare, visas ($450) and tips. (An online check of Delta airfares in December ’07 found these prices, which include taxes: San Francisco to Bamako, Mali, round trip, $2,225. . . or San Francisco-Bamako with return from Cotonou, Benin, $2,160.)

In Mali we visited Bamako, Mopti (on the Niger River), Djenné, Timbuktu, Sangha and Bandiagara (Dogon country). Because of a sandstorm there were no flights, so we drove to Timbuktu (I highly recommended taking the airline). The trip was worth it to view the ancient manuscripts being restored at the main library (open upon request).

In Dogon country we had arranged for a fantastic private ceremonial mask dance, with dancers on stilts or with headdresses and costumes representing such things as earth, sky and life. (Separately, seeing the dances costs €115 for two people through Saga Tours.)

Before the dance, we walked through Dogon villages on the top and sides of the mountain and then down through a very steep, narrow opening in the cliff to the picturesque villages below. Abandoned ancient Tellem dwellings are carved into the high cliffs above.

We wandered, escorted and unescorted, around Mopti enjoying the vibrant life in the markets and along the Niger River.

We upgraded hotels whenever possible. We strongly recommend these: Hotel Salam, Bamako; Les Maisons, Timbuktu, and Hotel Kambary, Bandiagara.

Just the 9-day/8-night Mali portion of our trip would cost approximately $3,015 per person plus tips.

Anyone with questions may send me an e-mail c/o ITN.

ROSALIE BAKER

Nevada City, CA

Please login or subscribe to ITN to read the entire post.

My husband and I shared many of the same adventures as the writer of the article “Intrepid Travelers Begin Their Overland Journey through West Africa in Mali” (Dec. ’07, pg. 46). However, we used an alternative travel mode, riding in a private, air-conditioned SUV with an English/French-speaking guide and driver and staying at the best available hotels.

We engaged Assou of Saga Tours (B.P. E-1884, Bamako, Mali, West Africa; phone/fax +223 220 2708, www.sagatours.com), to arrange our tour of Mali, Burkina Faso, Ghana, Togo and Benin, March 8-25, 2007.

Booked at 2006 rates, our 5-country, 18-day/17-night land tour cost $6,419 per person, not including international airfare, visas ($450) and tips. (An online check of Delta airfares in December ’07 found these prices, which include taxes: San Francisco to Bamako, Mali, round trip, $2,225. . . or San Francisco-Bamako with return from Cotonou, Benin, $2,160.)

In Mali we visited Bamako, Mopti (on the Niger River), Djenné, Timbuktu, Sangha and Bandiagara (Dogon country). Because of a sandstorm there were no flights, so we drove to Timbuktu (I highly recommended taking the airline). The trip was worth it to view the ancient manuscripts being restored at the main library (open upon request).

In Dogon country we had arranged for a fantastic private ceremonial mask dance, with dancers on stilts or with headdresses and costumes representing such things as earth, sky and life. (Separately, seeing the dances costs €115 for two people through Saga Tours.)

Before the dance, we walked through Dogon villages on the top and sides of the mountain and then down through a very steep, narrow opening in the cliff to the picturesque villages below. Abandoned ancient Tellem dwellings are carved into the high cliffs above.

We wandered, escorted and unescorted, around Mopti enjoying the vibrant life in the markets and along the Niger River.

We upgraded hotels whenever possible. We strongly recommend these: Hotel Salam, Bamako; Les Maisons, Timbuktu, and Hotel Kambary, Bandiagara.

Just the 9-day/8-night Mali portion of our trip would cost approximately $3,015 per person plus tips.

Anyone with questions may send me an e-mail c/o ITN.

ROSALIE BAKER

Nevada City, CA