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Man performing in Dogon Dance
View of Terelli from the top of the Dogon Escarpment
Elephant in Mole National Park
Orphanage in Ghana
Sunset on Niger River
Mud Mosque of Djenné
Ferry in Mali
Fishing in Ghana
Hundreds of Tuaregs on Camels arrive at the Festival in the Desert

Introduction: The Bus Run has been bringing school supplies to West Africa since 2004 and in 2012 The Sabre Trust in association with The Surfing Camel are planning to incorporate The Bus Run with a visit to the famous Festival in the Desert near Timbuktu. This tour introduces you to a fascinating part of West Africa and showcases the vast diversity of this amazing region. From idyllic Atlantic beaches to the dry Sahel where West Africa blends into the Sahara Desert and enormous baobab trees and remote mud-built villages scatter the arid landscape.

This journey will take you from the bustling streets of Marrakech into the sandy streets of Nouakchott and then on to the more laid-back & timeless city of Bamako, where donkeys roam the streets and the hypnotic sounds of the legendary Mali music scene provide a soundtrack for everyday life. Along the way we pass through some rarely visited regions far from the tourist trail where you will see a truly authentic side of African life. From Bamako we will travel to some of the most recognisable attractions in West Africa. From the peaceful and scenic boat trip on the Niger River to the ultimate in hiking in West Africa, the irrepressible Dogon Country. Not to mention a visit to one of the most remote music festivals on the planet. We then leave Mali behind and enter ‘the land of upright people’, Burkina Faso and here we will overnight in Ouagadougou.

After leaving the French influenced countries behind we enter Ghana where we will walk with some elephants, visit the great city of Kumasi and unwind on the tropical beaches of the Gold Coast. This is an epic journey that will give you a broad taste of the great diversity present in this unique corner of Africa. On top of this you will give something back as we visit three projects aimed at improving the lives of the local population. We visit a project supported by the African Workshop in Bamako which provides a safe place for children to harness and focus their artistic talents. We also slow the pace of life down in a remote Tuareg settlement and discover the difference a few committed people can make when they put their mind to things as well as delivering some much needed education supplies to the school that these people have established. Finally there is the opportunity to spend some time volunteering on one of the projects set up by the Sabre Trust in Ghana whist relaxing at an idyllic beach lodge.

 

Tour Details

 

Tour Style: Group Tour
Start: Marrakech 
Finish: Elmina
Duration: 28 days
Cost: 1650 Euro’s
Local Payment: 250 Euro's (Payable at predeparture meeting)
Countries Visited & Visa Requirements: Morocco, Mauritania, Mali, Burkina Faso and Ghana. (We will attain visas for Mauritania, Mali, Burkina Faso on route. The Ghana visa must be attained before travelling)
Maximum Group Size: 17
Transport: Air-conditioned safari vehicle, 4x4, boat, pirogue, donkey cart.
Accommodation: Campsites, bush camps, roof top camping.
Age Guide: Young at heart and physically fit.
Start Finish Availability availabilty
26/12/2011
22/01/2012
Available


Itinerary:            

Day 1     Marrakech
Day 2     Guelmim
Day 3     Laayoune
Day 4     Dhakla
Day 5     Mauritanian Border
Day 6     Nouakchott
Day 7     Kiffa
Day 8     Nioro Du Sahel
Day 9     Bamako
Day 10   Bamako
Day 11   Djenné
Day 12   Bandiagara
Day 13   Dogon Country
Day 14   Dogon Country
Day 15   Bandiagara
Day 16   Teneré
Day 17   Teneré
Day 18   Festival in the Desert
Day 19   Festival in the Desert
Day 20   Festival in the Desert

Day 21   Niger River

Day 22   Niger River
Day 23   Sevare
Day 24   Ouagadougou
Day 25   Mole N.P.
Day 26   Mole N. P.
Day 27   Kumasi
Day 28   Elmina

 

Highlights:

Marrakech; Western Sahara; New years eve in Nouakchott; Saharan landscapes of Mauritania; Bamako night-life & music scene; famous mud mosque of Djenné; Niger River trip; Mali’s largest port, Mopti; Hike in Dogon Country; Mask Dance of the Dogon; Tuareg Settlement; Festival in the Desert; Ouagadougou; wildlife viewing in Mole National Park; Kumasi; Elmina; giving something back by supporting grass roots humanitarian projects.

In-Depth Itinerary:

Please note that there will be a pre-departure meeting at 6pm on the day before the trip starts giving you the chance to meet your fellow travellers and discuss the itinerary in more depth with your guide.

 

DAY 1 : Marrakech - We will use this day to explore the famous city of Marrakech and also give ourselves time to prepare the vehicle and ourselves before the long drive through the Sahara to Mali.

 

DAY 2 : Guelmim. We depart Marrakech after breakfast and proceed on our route to the coast. We straddle the Atlas mountains before dropping down to the coastal city of Agadir where we will stop for lunch before proceeding further south into the arid region of southern Morocco. We will experience our first bush camp tonight and have a BBQ under the stars.

 

DAY 3 - Laayoune. Our southbound journey continues as we hug the rugged Atlantic coastline and eventually we cross into the former spanish colony of Western Sahara. On independence the Western Sahara was annexed by Morocco but it retains its own identity. We will stop in Laayoune and replenish our supplies before driving to a remote farm adjacent to the coastline where the welcoming farmer allows us to use an abandoned cottage for the night so we can stay out of the buffeting coastal wind coming in off the Atlantic.

 

DAY 4 : Dhakla. The road from Laayoune to Dhakla hugs the coast and also heads into the arid interior of Western Sahara. Our goal is Dhakla which is a town on a peninsula in the southern part of Western Sahara. It is an extremely remote place but due to the very favourable wind conditions and the protection offered by the peninsula it has become one of the premier kite surfing destinations on the planet. We will overnight in a campsite on the beach and for the meat eaters we will take the chance to sample some of the local specialty, Camel Tajine

 

DAY 5 - Mauritanian Border . The crossing from Morocco into Mauritania takes time so after completing formalities we will over night in a campsite on the border.

 

DAY 6 : Nouakchott. We will leave the border when the sun comes up and make our way to the largest city in the Sahara, Nouakchott. Although we stick to the tarmac rode, we will be surrounded by a sea of sand dunes and occasional bedouin campements. We will be spending New Years Eve in Nouakchott so on arrival we will head to the lively fish market to purchase some of the days catch for a big seafood BBQ before heading out on the town to bring in the new year, Mauritanian style.

 

DAY 7 : Kiffa. After a slightly later start we finally change course after our long drive south. Our course is now due East and the first few hours will show us the biggest dunes yet. Our goal for the night will be a campsite in Kiffa.

 

Day 8 : Nioro du Sahel . We cross out of Mauritania and into Mali. After border formalities we will find a place to camp for the night.

 

Day 9 : Bamako .We depart Nioro and drive through the impressive scenery of Western Mali; the landscape is dotted with huge baobab trees, traditional villages and wandering Fula herders with their animals. In Bamako we will enjoy a night out together sampling some tasty Malian food in one of Bamako’s excellent restaurants, and maybe then exploring the vibrant nightlife of this city. Bamako boasts  a thriving music scene and is the home to some of Africa’s top recording artists. We may be lucky enough to catch a performance by local legends like Salif Keita or Habib Koita.

 

Day 10 : Bamako . This is a free day to explore the Malian capital and wash away the sands of the Sahara or just to relax and catch up on your journals.

 

Day 11 : Djenné. We depart Bamako in the early morning on route for Djenné. Our drive takes us through the town of Segou where we will stop to take a look at some of the famous crafts produced here and then we will catch the ferry across the Bani River to enter Djenné town in the afternoon.

 

Day 12 : Bandiagara. Djenné is one of the most picturesque towns in West Africa and in the grand old days of the Trans Saharan salt and gold trade it rivaled Timbuktu in importance. Monday’s are  always busy in Djenné as traders from all over the region converge on Djenné for the Monday market. We utilise the services of a local guide to get us closer to the action. After lunch we will make the short drive to Bandiagara which we use as a base to explore Dogon Country.


Day 13 : Dogon Country. After breakfast we head off into the rough terrain of the Dogon escarpment. We will commence our hike in the afternoon and descend the escarpment to our accommodation for the night.


Day 14 : Dogon Country. We walk from village to village with an experienced guide whilst we will learn about the mythology, mask dances and spiritual beliefs of these unique people. We break for lunch at the village of Terelli and after a hearty lunch and some time to relax we will get to see the Mask Dance of the Dogon.


Day 15 : Bandiagara. Our trek will come to a conclusion on top of the escarpment at the village of Dourou. After taking lunch here we will transfer back to Bandiagara in time for a shower, some great food and some cool drinks whilst we reflect on our past few days of adventure.

 

Day 16 – 17  : Tuareg Campement: After an early breakfast we will depart for Douentza. Here we will transfer into our 4x4 vehicles and start the rough drive to our Tuareg Campement for the night. Our hosts support a local school which we will visit and and we will also be treated to a night of traditional Tuareg entertainment as well as a fantastic specially prepared local meal. We will also visit the project set up here to assist in the development of the town and deliver some much needed supplies to the local school.

 

Day 18  – Festival of the Desert: We will arrive in Timbuktu in the morning after crossing the Niger River on the ferry. We will have a few hours to clean ourselves up, wander the streets of Timbuktu and maybe take in a delicious local meal. In the afternoon we will transfer to the site of the festival and set up our camp for the next few days.

 

Day 19  – Festival of the Desert: We have a free day to take in all the sights of the festival. You can spend some time haggling with local craftsmen. Or maybe take a short ride into the desert on a camel. But above all else you will be free to enjoy the music and cultural performances that abound throughout the day or wander into Timbuktu. The music goes late into the night so you can either grab a blanket and sit in the dunes and soak up the atmosphere or get up close and personal with the locals on the dance floor (sand).

 

Day 20  – Festival of the Desert: Today is our final day at the festival and the highlight will be the closing concert featuring the headline acts of the Festival. The day will be filled with a variety of cultural performances as well as the excitement provided during the camel racing.

 

Day 21-22 : Niger River Trip. After a leisurely breakfast we will meet the captain of our river boat that will take us on our 3 day river trip to Mali's largest port, Mopti. Today is spent lazing away on our river journey as we watch the world go by where little has changed for centuries. We stop and visit a few local villages where the Fulani herdsmen live peacefully alongside the Bozo fisherman. In the late afternoon our captain will find us a suitable bank to park our boat on and we will set up our bush camp and watch the sun setting over Africa’s third largest river.


Day 23 – Niger River – Sevare. We continue our river trip and will arrive in Mopti at mid day. We will have a few hours to explore Mopti before transferring to our campsite in Sevare for the night.


Day 24 : Ouagadougou. After an early morning departure we will make our way to Burkina Faso and the capital city, Ouagadougou. ‘Ouaga’ is the cultural Mecca of West Africa and home to a vibrant film industry as well as boasting a multitude of awesome venues for viewing live music. We will hopefully get the chance to see a cultural drumming performance tonight.


Day 25 : Mole National Park. Today is a big driving day as we say goodbye to French West Africa and say hello to english West Africa. As the Ghanaian people say 'AKWAABA', which means welcome and immediately you will see why Ghanaians have a reputation as being the friendliest people on the continent.


Day 26 : Mole National Park. Mole N. P. is the biggest attraction in the north of the Ghana and one of the biggest in Ghana as a whole. And the biggest attraction in Mole is without a doubt the Elephant population. We utilise the services of an armed ranger who will take us on a game walk to get up close and personal to these giants of the African savannah.


Day 27 : Kumasi. The drive from Mole to Kumasi is a long one and takes us into the heart of the Ashanti people’s capital.


Day 28 : Elmina. We have a free morning to explore the 'Garden City' as it is known to the local people. Kumasi features some excellent museums and one of the largest markets in West Africa. After lunch we will depart for Elmina and our campsite on the beach next to the Atlantic Ocean. Our journey ends here and there is the opportunity to extend your time here by volunteering to help out in one of Sabre Trusts ongoing projects to enhance the lives and minds of young Ghanaians. For those who wish to fly then a transfer to Accra will be available.



'Congratulations for completing an epic journey through West Africa'