Safety and security in Mali - Timbuktu, Dogon, Festival in the Desert
I'm going to be travelling through Mali in January 2009 with 2 motorbikes and a couple in an overland truck. I'm interested in going to the Dogon Country, Djenne, Timbuktu (Tombouctou) and the Festival in the Desert.
I see on the UK Foreign Office travel advisory website
that these areas are known for banditry, and they advise against travel to these areas.
I'm aware the travel advisory has to be extremely cautious in their stance, and as such often overstate the situation. However, that said I also don't think it's a good idea to dismiss this advice off-hand, as they advise this for a reason!
So, has anyone been there recently, or have knowledge of the situation in the area? Is it too dangerous to travel to these areas, or would you consider it safe enough?
Is travelling without a guide, with only 2 people in an overland truck, and a further 2 people on motorbike a stupid thing to do in these areas?
Thanks for your advice!