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The Travel Journal of Jacqui and Lars


Mali - 11 November, 2000



Location Latitude Longitude Elevation

Travel Distance

Start Sevare (near Mopti) N1431.498' W00405.795' 306 m
Mopti N1429.847' W00412.088' 238 m 13 km
Gambe (Fulani village on the Bani River)
Sarmuda (Songoy village on the Bani River)
Finish Bush camp on Bani River (somewhere between Mopti and Djenne) N1415.190' W00410.511' 271 m  30 km


9,545 km


Weather: Partly cloudy, sunny and very hot.   Cool in the evening and night.



Daily Journal Entry:

This morning we are up early to get our stuff ready for our pirogue trip on the Bani River.  After getting our stuff together, we set up for breakfast.  After breakfast and packing up, we head into Mopti at 9:10 AM, getting there 20 minutes later.


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In Mopti, we walk around the town, first going to the local market.  The main thing available at the market is fish, it seems.  All types of fish from the river, many dried or smoked.  We also saw them building boats - they were making their own nails.  It was hard work.


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We then walked around to the Grand Mosque, which is made of mud bricks.  It is hard to get a clear look at it given all the buildings around it.


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From there, we walked along the embankment, noticing a small pirogue taking people back and forth across the swamp/marsh.  We decide to ask him for a round trip, just for the fun of it.  He thinks we are a bit strange, but is happy to oblige.  It is one way to get to meet the locals.


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We then head back to the town center and the river and join many others from our group for lunch at one of the recommended restaurants.  After a quick lunch, we head back to the truck to load up the pirogue for our two day trip to Djenne up the Bani River.  We all get our stuff together (tents, sleep gear, food, etc) and load it up on the boat.  Mark and Rick are there to wish us farewell (they will be happy to be rid of us for a couple of days) and they wear their best shirts to wave us off.


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The boat heads off and we enjoy the quiet ride up the river towards Djenne.  It will take us two days and one night and we will stop at a number of villages along the way.  The ride on the river itself is great as we watch the countryside go by.  We also see lots of activity on the river, with fishermen, boats carrying grass, boats harvesting the grass (to feed the animals), boats sailing by with whole families, etc.  The bird life is also fantastic.  We see many birds and are able to get up close to many of them as we cruise by on the river's edge.


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The first village that we stop at is Gambe, a Fulani village (there are 16 main tribes in Mali).  The Fulani are cattle herders.  The people are very friendly and they clearly do not get many tourists as visitors.  They do not hassle us and they do not mind us taking photos.  All the kids from the village came and they would follow us around as we walked around their village.  Many would want to hold our hands.  They loved the cameras.  This small village had it's own small, mud brick mosque.


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Later that afternoon we arrived at Saramala, a Songoy village.  This tribe tends to be farmers and they grow rice.  Each of these villages and tribes will trade with each other (this is not much of a cash economy out here).  The people were just as friendly as the first village and we had a great visit.


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Shortly after we departed the second village, we started looking for a place along the river's edge to stop and camp for the night.  We finally found a dry spot with no grass growing at 5:15 PM.  We pulled up, tied up the boat and unloaded our stuff.  I converted my shorts back to long pants - and I could see how dirty my clothes had become (see photo)!!!  The cook group prepared dinner (a very simple one - sandwiches).  We then watched the moon rise - today is a full moon and we were looking forward to watching it.  At first there were too many clouds in the sky and we could not see it, but then the clouds started to clear and it was wonderful to watch.  It lit up the countryside and it shimmered on the river.


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As there was not too much to do, we decided to go to bed early and to watch the night sky from our tent.  After brushing our teeth in the moon light looking over the river, we retired and were asleep by 8:30 PM - now that is early!!!  But it was a wonderful and peaceful night.



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