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Getting around in Mali

By Air:

Mali’s local air carrier has flights between Bamako and Timbuktu and the other entire major towns and cities at least three times a week. Flights are expensive but very comfortable and enjoyable.

By Road:

The government provides bus services that connect Bamako, the capital, to all the major towns around the country. The fares on these bus rides are fixed and quite cheap. The buses travel in convoys for safety, protected by troops belonging to the military and police.

The only other way of travelling in Mali is by using the famous West African ‘bush’ taxis. They usually come in the form of Peugeot 504s and seat about seven passengers. They are cheap and will take you anywhere you want to go. Luggage usually costs between 5% and 10% of the fixed fare. The cities have another form of transportation called the ‘collective’ taxi that is inexpensive and charges a standard fare regardless of the distance you are travelling. Of course, the ubiquitous truck or ‘camion’ is always an option but you may have to share your seat with livestock.

To hire a self-drive car in Mali, you need an International Driving Permit. Traffic drives on the right. Stopping at many checkpoints is part of the driving experience in this country. Border areas close to Mauritania have witnessed violence in the recent past and it is suggested that you stick to the main roads, drive in convoys and totally avoid driving in the dark.

By River:

River Niger provides an easy form of transportation, except between December and March when travel is only possible between Mopti and Gao. Otherwise, there are weekly services between Bamako and Gao via Timbuktu, which takes five to six days and covers 1300km. Motorised and other types of riverboats are available for hire between Timbuktu and Mopti.

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