Our 15-day Mali, Burkina Faso & Ghana expedition, with Timbuktu, aims to introduce you to several of the unique ethnic groups that reside in this stunning region, which spreads from the Sahara Desert in the north to the Atlantic Ocean to the south. By private aircraft, we wing our way to meet the Tuareg, Timbuktu’s exotic Blue Men of the desert; the Gouruonsi people; and the Ashanti, who will be celebrating Akwasidee, the culmination of their 42-day religious calendar, while we are there. During our Ghana expedition, wander through West Africa’s largest open-air market, as well as a forest canopy in search of elephants and antelopes.
Mali, Burkina Faso & Ghana Expedition Highlights:
- Mali, Burkina Faso, and Ghana adventure travel by private aircraft, enabling us to journey to the most remote corners of West Africa with minimal delays.
- 4x4 vehicle travel on the land, taking us from vast open fields to lush rain forests in search of resident wildlife.
- The ancient adobe city of Djenné, claiming to be the oldest city in West Africa, and its enormous red mud mosque.
- Picnic lunch in Dogon Country, with a Dogon mask performance; dancers wear elaborately carved masks up to ten feet in height.
- Visit to the haunting grounds of Elmina Castle as part of our Ghana tour; this was one of the most important stops on the Atlantic slave trade route.
What to expect:
Mali, Burkina Faso, and Ghana adventure travel is one of the most intrepid programs we offer and, as such, is for experienced travelers only. We ask that you be reasonably fit and able to walk unaided over rough ground; several days will include driving long distances on poorly maintained roads and some off-road travel in four-wheel-drive vehicles. The weather should be dry during October and November, making it an optimal time for Mali, Burkina Faso, and Ghana expeditions; daily temperatures will range from 75°F to 95°F. Bring a sense of humor and an adventurous spirit and you will gain much from this remarkable travel experience.
Depart on your independent flight to Bamako, Mali.
Arrive in Bamako this evening and transfer to the Hotel Salam where we spend the next two nights.
Today we tour the city of Bamako, a fascinating mix of French colonial buildings and colorful street markets that characterize much of West Africa. We visit the National Museum and enjoy lunch at a lovely restaurant on the Niger River, followed by a stop at the Artisans’ Market.
Bamako / Timbuktu / Mopti
This morning we depart on our private aircraft to the most famous named place on the planet: Timbuktu. The ancient home of Islamic learning and a major stop on the gold and salt caravan route, we tour the city’s venerable mosques, Ethnological Museum, and the houses of the legendary explorers Rene Caille, Gordon Laing, and Henry Barth. We then make our way to the encircling sand dunes to visit a Tuareg encampment. Here, the legendary Blue Men of the desert treat us to a special performance, followed by a sumptuous traditional lunch. We return to the airport this afternoon for our private flight to Mopti and overnight at Hotel Kanaga, our home for four nights.
Mopti / Djenné
Today we visit Djenné, which claims to be the oldest city in West Africa, and little appears to have changed over the centuries. The small adobe city is a labyrinth of alleys lined with mud houses adorned with thatched roofs, ornate window shutters, and doors decorated with paint and metal objects that give the town its unique, otherworldly charm. The centerpiece of the town is the justly famous red mud mosque, claimed to be the largest mud building in the world. This is an outstanding example of Sudanese architecture and provides a wonderful backdrop as we visit the weekly Monday market. Here we discover a wide variety of goods and have a chance to mingle with members of the many ethnic groups living along the Niger River Valley.
Mopti / Dogon Country
Today visit the celebrated Dogon Country with its picturesque mud villages, caves, and cliffside dwellings. The scenery here has a breadth and scale rarely seen elsewhere, with sweeping escarpments, towering cliffs, and dark, brooding canyons. After a picnic lunch, we are entertained with a Dogon mask performance, where energetic dancers don elaborately-carved masks, some up to 10 feet in height.
This morning explore the canal-laced city of Mopti and visit the old Teikiri neighborhood, the Sougouni market, and the local craft market. This afternoon board local canoes for a sun-downer cruise along this bustling port that draws traders from across the shifting red sands of the Sahara.
Mopti / Bobo Dioulasso, Burkina Faso / Ouagadougou
The first leg of today’s private flight will be to Burkina Faso’s second largest city, Bobo Dioulasso. Here we visit the Dioulasoba Mosque, the market, and, after lunch, view Banfora’s spectacular landscape of domes gently shaped by wind erosion. Our second leg brings us to the capital city of Ouagadougou for an overnight at Hotel Laico Ouaga 2000.
Ouagadougou / Tièbèlè
We continue our exploration of Burkina Faso, driving south to the village of Tièbèlè, home to the Gouruonsi people. Here, we visit the king’s family and several local homes and conclude our time in the village with a Nagla, or warrior, ceremony. Return to Ouagadougou in the early afternoon to peruse the handicraft village and overnight at Hotel Laico Ouaga 2000.
Ouagadougou / Kumasi, Ghana
This morning our private flight takes us to Ghana. After check-in and lunch, we visit Kumasi’s Cultural Center and Museum and the Central Market, considered one of the largest open-air markets in western Africa. Overnight at the Golden Tulip Hotel.
Known as “The Garden City” because of its tropical climate and vegetation, Kumasi is the cultural cradle of Ghana and home of the Ashanti King. Today, we have the opportunity to participate in Akwasidee, a public ceremony to celebrate the culmination of the 42-day cycle of the Ashanti religious calendar, and witness the gathering of various Ashanti dignitaries in town for the celebration. After lunch we visit the handicraft villages of Ahwia and Ntonso. Overnight at the Golden Tulip Hotel.
Kumasi / Elmina
This morning drive to Ghana’s coastal region with our first stop in Elmina. After lunch, we explore the haunting grounds of Elmina Castle. Built in 1482 by the Portuguese, this UNESCO World Heritage Site was one of the most important stops on the Atlantic slave trade route. We also get a taste of seaside culture as we walk through Elmina’s bustling market and along the harbor. Overnight at Elmina Beach Resort.
Elmina / Cape Coast / Accra
After breakfast visit the acclaimed Kakum National Park, home to Africa’s only walkway suspended in a rain forest canopy. With heights of up to 100 feet from the ground, the 1,000-foot-long aerial walk provides a marvelous vantage point to observe the park’s rare mammal and bird species. For those who wish to explore Cape Coast at ground-level, we visit the Cape Coast Castle and African Historical Museum, where slaves were once bought and sold. We then make our way to Accra for a city tour and overnight at Labadi Beach Resort.
This morning we visit the Artist Alliance Gallery of Accra, with a wonderful collection of contemporary Ghanaian and West African art. In the afternoon we tour the Casket Market at Nungua to see woodworkers creating customized coffins in the shapes of fruits, animals, and even automobiles to represent the lives of the deceased. Overnight at Labadi Beach Resort.
Accra / USA
Transfer this morning to the airport to connect with your independent homeward flights.
Flight Program Accommodations
All prices are in US dollars and do not include international airfare, unless otherwise noted.
Prices displayed are based on the lowest season base price and assume double occupancy. Prices are shown in U.S. dollars and may or may not include administrative fees, taxes, meals, airfare (where applicable) and Single Supplements. Cancellation penalties, blackout dates and other restrictions may apply.
Options and Extras
Flights are not included in the cost of expeditions; however, Zegrahm Expeditions has a fully-staffed air department that can assist you with flight arrangements. Since many of our expeditions embark and disembark from remote destinations, the airports that serve these areas often have limited carriers and/or daily flights. As such, our air team is well-versed in planning complex routings for our travelers.