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Mali - Getting there & away, getting around

Mali - Getting there & away

There are a number of European carriers that fly into Bamako Airport, but if you wish to fly in from the USA you need to transfer to a regional flight at Dakar or Abidjan. The airport is about 10km (6mi) from Bamako. Point Afrique, flying from Paris and Marseilles to Gao, Timbuktu or Bamako, is a charter company that provides great bargains to out-of-the-way places, with flights costing around US$450 return. Airport tax is included in the ticket price.

Getting into Mali by road is always on the cards since it's a landlocked republic. With the exception of Algeria, you can bus into Mali from any direction although the comfort factor of the trip varies depending on the condition of the road and the time of the year. Bush taxis are a viable alternative for shorter trips, or a combination of bus and bush taxi. In some cases, such as between Mauritania and Mali, you might need to mix and match your travel modes, catching trucks and pick-ups between scheduled buses and bush taxis. Between Senegal and Mali express train is the transport of choice as the roads are in such bad condition. Apart from road and air, the other more exotic way to get into Mali is by boat, floating up the Niger from Guinea.

Getting around Mali

Getting around Mali is usually a matter of taking a passenger boat down the Niger (or a smaller pirogue or pinasse on shorter trips), or buses and bush taxis. Buses tend to be more popular than bush taxis for long hauls as they are cheaper and more reliable, although bush taxis may be the only choice available on shorter trips. The only train journey within Mali is between Bamako and Kayes but there are a number of flights out of Bamako to various destinations. Hiring a car to get aroud is not entirely impossible but you can get bogged down in a few difficulties. For a start you need insurance and a carnet de passage and buying petrol can sometimes be difficult.

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