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sub-Saharan Africa Topics specific to sub-Saharan Africa. (Includes all countries South of 17 degrees latitude)
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Old 20 Jan 2008
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guide for Mali/Dogon

Is a guide for Mali compulsory?
For the Dogon area it's advisable?

Anyone experience?
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Old 20 Jan 2008
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A guide for Mali is certainly not required. The Dogon area I have been twice, and my opinion is that if you intend treking then you basically have to have a guide. However both times what I did (no treking) was to hire a guide for two days to explore some of the villages and get background info etc. Important to question the guide before you take him on in order to make sure he knows what he is on about. If you ask around at the hotel Kambary in Bandiagara for "Samba" - a great guy and knowledgeable and certainly not out to rip you off! After that we just followed our nose (and gps) around the Dogon area. Hombori also well worth a drive. If you want I can send/add more details. I love the place!
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Old 20 Jan 2008
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Great place

I rode Bandiagara - Sanga - Douentza, along "the cliff", 120 km, fantastic riding. Good mix between dirtroad, cliff and dessert riding. Had no guide. Take your time, nice scenary and extrordinary people.

Unfortunately I have no pictures from there, but in a while there will be small videos available in my blog.

Sahara travel blog:
Med mc rundt Middelhavet

Check out: North Africa 2007 and The Great African Run
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Old 22 Jan 2008
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malian guide

This guy helped me when we went to Mali a few years ago. We are putting together a website for him to help generate business (I haven't added my testimonial yet, but he's a good guy). I highly recommend him:

Come to Mali - Hama's Website

His details are on the website.
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Old 22 Jan 2008
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Guide for Mali ?

Sure there are good guide for visit Mali ..... but it's not necessary at all !
We visit this country last year with no guide and including "pays Dogon" without any problem .
An exception : the region of Kidall and Adrar des Ifoghas where , these days , it would be better to have a (good) guide for security reasons .
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Old 22 Jan 2008
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More details...

Recent trip:
we arrived in Dogon from the Burkina Faso border, damn late due to lunching and stocking up. The road from Ouahigouya to Bankass had deteriorated quite a lot from our last trip, but the road from Bankass up the escarpment to Bandiagara has to be done, at sunset it is magnificent with super dramatic views over the plains and the dramatic rocks. We had long ago missed the sunset, but in the moonlight it was also amazing As we had been wild camping for 3 nights we were booked into the hotel kambary to clean up a bit. The next day we grabbed an english speaking guide from the hotel (Samba) and headed off to his village (Indelou) which he claimed was still very traditional - he didn't lie! From there we descended down the escarpment (road is NNE of Indelou) on a very dramatic and rugged track. We were then in dunes, so had a fantastic time driving about and got totally lost!! Picked up the right track and skirted the base of the escarpment, ascending teh same route up from the night before, but this time at sunset. The next day we had intended to move on but my girlfriend was struck with stomach problems so we moved into a campement down the road and the rest of us went to Mopti for the afternoon. The next day we headed off (no guide) to Sanga (not impressed, a bit tourist orientated) and descended again down the escarpment on another amazing rugged and dramatic track. We then camped at the base of the escarpment and had a super evening under amazing stars. Next day we stuck right to the base of the escarpment for direction Douentza. Last time I had done a similar route but through the plains (direction NNE). This time we stuck right on the base, and boy was it rough.... Super!! Eventually reached Douentza and camped in a spot on the Timbuctou road near the most amazing cliffs - had camped there before, so got an amazing welcome from the old farmer who remembered us (I had left my Defender with him last time while we did a sprint up to Timbuctou in a 'slightly' more reliable 80 series). From there we proceeded to Hombori, then back to Sevare area, and another couple of nights camping around Dogon area.
Fantastic way to spend Christmas/New Year.
Friend of mine who did a similar trip in my old Defender which I sold him put some pictures here:
and I put some pictures here:

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Old 30 Jan 2008
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I'd second the views here with one caveat. Whilst you certainly don't need a guide to travel round the Dogon there are two main reasons why I think it's very wise. The most important is a cultural one because each village has it's own sacred shrine/fetish and as a foreigner it's all too easy to inadvertantly cause offence or worse. Don't forget these people are Animist and not Muslim. A local guide avoids any chance of a faux-pas. The second reason is that the culture is so fascinating that you get so much more out of the experience if you have someone to explain what's going on. By way of example, the circumsision (sp?) area under the cliffs above Songo (great place and campement and not to be confused with Sanga by the way) would be meaningless and a waste of time without someone local to explain the rituals and the meaning behind them. Without knowing what was going on you simply think 'nice place with quaint graffiti'. There are many other examples as well.

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