Mali pt. 1: The Manding highlands and Bamako

We entered the southeast corner of Mali, finding ourselves in the Manding highlands which was a welcome change after the scorched flats of southwest Senegal. Mango season has begun here, so we stuff our faces daily on cheap (or sometimes free!) mangos. After an eventful few days we found ourselves in Bamako, a dirty, hot and hectic city which we have come to really like. Either way we have no choice but to stop here for a few days while we await some slow African visa business.

We have also started raising funds to build compost toilets in Ghana, in support the fantastic work of UK charity Dream Big Ghana. This will go a small but significant way towards helping communities with no alternative to going to the toilet in the bush.

Please visit our donations page for more.

Misty cliffs in the Manding highlands as we entered southeast Mali

Misty cliffs in the Manding highlands as we entered southeast Mali

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Alice was struck down one night by a sudden bought of horrible sickness. The next morning, too weak to cycle. We jumped on a bus to Kita, and sat at the back where evidently no one else wanted to sit. A flap in the floor was loose, rising up in gusts of hot air revealing rushing tarmac and spinning drive-shaft. I wondered what would happen if the loose floor fell through the hole and got snarled in the axle as heat from the engine wafted up my trouser leg.

Alice was struck down one night by a sudden bout of horrible sickness, the next morning too weak to cycle. We jumped on a bus to Kita, and sat at the back where evidently no one else wanted to sit. A flap in the floor was loose, rising up in gusts of hot air revealing rushing tarmac and spinning drive-shaft. I wondered what would happen if the loose floor fell through the hole and got snarled in the axle as heat from the engine wafted up my trouser leg.

A happy traveller

A happy traveller

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Rock art in some caves in Mount Kita

Rock art in some caves in Mount Kita

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We found where those Christmas shoe box things end up!

We found where those Christmas shoe box things end up!

After two attempts we have established that the men with clippers in shacks labelled something like "Big Boyz Cutz" who call themselves barbers, are not not necessarily very good at cutting hair.

After two attempts we have established that the men with clippers in shacks labelled something like “Big Boyz Cutz” who call themselves barbers, are not necessarily very good at cutting hair.

This concrete giraffe was just one of the animal menagerie on show at this bizarre guesthouse in Kita.

This concrete giraffe was just one of the animal menagerie on show at this bizarre guesthouse in Kita.

THIS is where cashew nuts come from. The top bit is a cashew apple, with a sweet tangy juice and a strange rubbery texture.

THIS is where cashew nuts come from. The top bit is a cashew apple, with a sweet tangy juice and a strange rubbery texture. The nut sits in the grey blob underneath.

Sneaky camping amongst someone's cashew trees.

Sneaky camping amongst someone’s cashew trees.

A train!

A train on the Dakar-Bamako line!

The all important afternoon lie down.

The all important afternoon lie down.

We reached Bamako.  Not sure what this train was about but we liked it.

We reached Bamako. Not sure what this train was about but we liked it.

Koras

Koras

A horrifying array of decomposing animal parts in the 'fetish' section of Bamako market - including Eagles, Turtles, Monkeys, and pretty much everything else.

A horrifying array of decomposing animal parts in the ‘fetish’ section of Bamako market – including Eagles, Turtles, Monkeys, and pretty much everything else.

We lodged at the eccentric but lovely Catholic mission opposite the cathedral, with balconies overlooking the bustling street, a lady selling palm wine, and the continual sound of hymns with djembe accompaniment.

We lodged at the eccentric but lovely Catholic mission opposite the cathedral, with balconies overlooking the bustling street, a lady selling palm wine, and the continual sound of hymns with djembe accompaniment.

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The Niger

The Niger flowing through Bamako

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