Twitter Papillon Instagram Papillon Facebook Papillon

back to the journey

1 - Mali - Dogon - masks.
2 - Mali - Dogon granary.
3 - Mali - Segou - Festival sur le Niger
4 - Mali - Siby Arch de Kadmajan
5 - Mali - Niger river trip


Round-trip Mali
with Festival sur le Niger

day 1
The day is dedicated to the journey to Mali. Arrival time at Bamako airport depending on the airline chosen. The warmth of the African continent welcomes you. After the necessary customs formalities, the guide takes care of the transfer to the accommodation.

day 2

An early start of the day to travel to the capital of mud: Djenné. Today’s travel is by public transport instantly immersing you in daily life. The journey of about 550ks provides time to connect with your fellow-travelers and the guide, while enjoying the first impression of Mali’s towns, villages, daily life and Savannah landscapes. Lunch is eaten en route. With a bit of luck there’s a direct bus to Djenné. If not the remaining distance from the Djenné Crossing is covered by bush taxi. After having crossed the river by ferry, you arrive to Djenné, which built on an island in the Bani river. The old town of Djenné is one of Mali’s four UNESCO world heritage sites. It is famous for its mud-culture & architecture with Moorish influences. Eye catcher is the world’s largest mud-built structure: Djenné’s Grande Mosquée.
Depending on the time of arrival a short city walk is done in the late afternoon.

day 3

The morning is used for a walk through Djenné’s little alleys, taking you along the town’s architecture. The guide explains about the history of the town and the landmarks. Djenné’s museum, its sacred well, Tapama’s tomb and a manuscript library are visited.
After lunch you’re taken on a horse cart tour through the Djenné surroundings to visit several villages. The area around Djenné is mainly inhabited by Fulani, the herders, Bozo, the fishermen and Bambara, the farmers. The village visits provide an insight in daily life & culture of the different ethnic groups.

day 4

On Mondays Djenné turns into a bustling town. Villagers arrive on horse carts, by boat, on foot and in/on packed trucks and minibuses. It’s market day and soon the square in front of the mosque turns into a colorful market scene, where all the region’s produce is for sale. Your guide takes you on a short market tour.
Around 9am you travel to the ferry. On the other side of the river p
rivate transport is awaiting you for the trip to Dogon Country.
En route a stop
is made in Songo, a Dogon village, known for its rock paintings. These paintings were made (and are regularly renewed) by the village elders and used to teach the village boys when preparing them for their circumcision. A cave protects the instruments the boys are allowed to play after their initiation.
The journey continues to Sanga for lunch and a visit. Continue to Koundou in the late afternoon; starting point of your trek through Dogon Country.

day 5 and 6

The sounds of wood touching wood, produced by the village women pounding millet for their family’s breakfast may have woken you up after a night in the quiet surroundings. In Dogon Country life is still being lived by the rhythm of the seasons and days. Electricity and running water are still barely available in the villages and it may look like time stood still in this special part of Mali. The people of the cliffs are known for onion farming (you may even smell it) and for their rich culture, stemming from their animist background.
This trekking takes you through the northern part of the Dogon and includes visits to multiple villages. You’re guided along breath taking sceneries and your efforts are rewarded with stunning views and great experiences.
In the morning a beautiful, though slightly tiring, hike is made up to Koundou Da, which is passed by, by most who visit Dogon Country. We grab the chance to take you up to the ancient village and to the onion fields, where you’re more than welcome to help the locals watering the crops, using the traditional waterers.
After lunch in Koundou, the hike continues via Ibi to Banani, where the night is spent in a camp.
On day 6 you walk from Banani via Ireli and Amani to Tiréli. Toguna’s, guina’s and the typical Dogon granaries cross your path and along the way you meet the Dogon people. The sacred crocodiles pond is visited in Amani. The afternoon is dedicated to visiting the different neighborhoods of Tiréli. In the late afternoon we’re offered the chance to enjoy a mask dancing ceremony. Mask dances are part of the Dogon’s rich culture and today a selection of these amazing masks perform especially for us. Our guide explains the meaning of the different types of mask, while we enjoy the colorful performance on the beats of the traditional (sacred) drums. When the sounds of the drums come to an end and the masks are being returned to their cave.
We spend the nights on rooftops under the impressive star-spangled sky and learn about the beauty, history and culture of the people of the cliff.

day 7

Time has come to move on to other amazing experiences. Private transport takes us from Dogon Country to Sévaré, from where the journey is continued by public transport after lunch. Arrival in Ségou is expected in the evening.

day 8-10

Music, culture and music culture, it’s festival time!
The Ségou river quay has been turned into a festival site with the crème de la crème of the Malian music scene climbing the stage. The evenings are filled with music, the days with culture, local groups and raging talents. A colorful market, bars and restaurants add to the festival atmosphere. Ségou is bustling!
In between enjoying the performances you’re taken on side trips in Ségou and its surroundings. You learn about mud-cloth making, visit a hamlet where the locals master the art of decorating calabashes, set out on a river trip to a nearby pottery village, where with a bit of luck the weekly baking is taking place, do a donkey cart tour, taste of traditionally brawn millet beer and stroll the ancient neighborhoods of Ségou.
Above all you’re immersed in the vibrant atmosphere.

day 11-13

The time in Ségou has come to an end. After breakfast we board a pinasse, a traditionally built wooden boat, which is our home for the next three days. From Ségou the journey goes westward in the direction of Bamako.
It is time to relax, enjoy the natural surroundings, and experience life from the water. Bird lovers have the chance to spot dozens of species living on the shores and isles.
During the days the guide takes us on village visits, starting with Segoukoro, about 14ks from Ségou, which in former times used to be the capital of the Bambara Kingdom and where history has been well-preserved.
The boat crew takes care of the meals. Fresh ingredients are bought in villages and with the local fishermen. The nights are spent in tents on the riverbank or on isles.
Arrival in Koulikoro is expected in the late afternoon of the third day. The night is spent in a waterfront hotel.

day 14
From Koulikoro the journey goes - by private transport - to Siby at only 45ks from Bamako, set in beautiful rocky surroundings.
After lunch the well-known Arch of Kamadjan is visited with a local guide who explains about the history of the rocks and who takes you on a short hike/climb to the top of the arc. Depending on the road conditions the trip continues to the falls, where you can enjoy a refreshing bath.
The night is spent in Siby.

day 15
The last day of this journey through Mali has arrived. Filled with experiences and memories we’re taken back to Bamako in the morning. The last souvenirs can be bought at a craft market, and there’s time to stroll the streets of Mali’s capital, before attending the farewell dinner. Depending on the departure time of your flight you’re transferred to the airport.

View photo album
View the itinerary

In short

Day 1: (late) arrival in Bamako
Day 2: Bamako-Djenné
Day 3: Djenné & surroundings
Day 4: Djenné-Dogon Country
Day 5-6: Dogon Country
Day 7: Dogon Country-Ségou
Day 8-10: Ségou & festival
Day 11-13: boat trip Ségou-Koulikoro
Day 14: Koulikoro-Siby
Day 15: Siby-Bamako-departure
Book this trip


€ 1,595 per person
single supplement € 255


awaiting 2022 festival dates

Individual extensions possible.
Available as a tailor-made journey.


All accommodations (12 in hotels and B&B's, 4 in basic encampments and 2 in tents) and breakfasts, full board in Dogon Country and during the pinasse trip, English and French spoken travel guides, all costs related to excursions and transport as mentioned in the itinerary, ticket Festival sur le Niger or costs related to Ségou'Art, airport transfers and tourist taxes.  


(Air) fare to Bamako v.v., visa, vaccinations, personal insurances (such as travel, health and calcellation), drinks, other meals, souvenirs, personal expenses, upgrade of accommodation and/or transport, optional side trips and activities on days off.

responsible travel

Papillon Reizen values taking her responsibility. That is why we pay a fair price for goods and services. Besides all our activities contribute to the Papillon funds.

group size

4-8 people


A combination of private and public transport. Private transport is used for the stretches Djenné - Dogon Country, Dogon Country - Sévaré and from Koulikoro via Siby to Bamako.


Rooms (where possible with fan) and tents based on double occupancy. During this journey nights will be spent in hotels, B&B's and in basic facilities such as camps (Dogon Country) and tents (pinasse trip).
The single supplement gives the right to a single room & tent. Based upon availability.

comfort level of the journey

A good shape and flexible attitude are required for this journey, in which facilities will be simple in Dogon Country and during the Niger river trip. Also there will be some long days on the road.

practical information

After booking a confirmation email with extensive travel & practical information and a baggage checklist will be sent to you.
A summery of information on Mali is availabe on our website.