Sunday Spotlight – Mopti, Mali
Today I’m stretching my memory back to the time I went to Mali, 2007, one country in West Africa which really has a lot to see and do. From the Dogon country, to the incredible mosque at Djenne, Mali is a real surprise packet in West Africa, but sadly is not really safe for travel right at the moment.
Mopti is a city that is on the confluence of two rivers – the Bani and Niger rivers. And without a doubt the highlight of staying in Mopti is getting the opportunity to take a boat out on the water. It’s definitely a river town, the rivers are full of activity. Boats everywhere of various sizes.
I took a boat an hour or so before sunset and spent 2-3 hours on the rivers. Firstly the boat took me (and my mate Paul who was also there) to a small island. We walked up and down the island and we met the local kids. I’ll be straight up – this is a poor part of the world. But the kids smiled and swamped us like we were celebrities. Truth is, we had money. Which perhaps at the time I certainly didn’t reflect on as much as I should have. Or indeed today. Nevertheless, as a visitor it was a great experience. As a local in reverse, well, what do they make of tourists?
The town is pleasant. Even picturesque in parts, which is not something you can say for every town in West Africa. And the rivers are the prettiest places. And just watching the boats and life go by on these BIG rivers is the main highlight of Mopti. And then, the sun goes down. The place to be is on the river. And luckily I was.
Mopti is a pleasant rest stop, a place to get ready for onward travel. Look up ‘Mopti – things to see’ and google responds by listing a bunch of things which aren’t actually in Mopti. The Dogon Escarpment is a few hours away, and most tourists going there pass through Mopti in one direction, if not in both.
If you’re journeying up or down the river in Mali, heading to Timbuktu (probably not possible at the moment) this might be a hopping on point, there are ferries in both directions however they don’t all take tourists and they only run when the river is high enough.
Ultimately, Mopti is a good place to mount a day-trip to Djenne. An amazing town on an island in the middle of the Bani River, it’s a couple of hours each way by hired 4WD (possibly even a bit further). The buildings are almost exclusively made by mud brick, and the mosque certainly isn’t.
And in short, that’s Mopti for you. And a few bits which aren’t really Mopti. It’s a shady, riverside town, with a relaxed vibe compared to say the capital Bamako, and really, it’s very pleasant.
Thanks for reading today – May the Journey Never End!