Home

Galleries

News/Blog

Technology

Media

Links

Bio

Adventure Speaking

Contact

FAQ

Mali Expedition - Sand Storms & an Overland Journey to Timbuktu in the Sahara Desert

April 13-28 2008

In April of 2008 I undertook a journey through Mali in West Africa. The goal was to track down sand storms blowing in from the Sahara Desert during one of the hottest months of the year.

Sand Storms

Blowing sand and dust devils in the sub-Saharan region known as the Sahel.

Sand_01

Sand_02

Here I am getting blown around as the air fills with debris.

Locals dealing with a sandstorm. Life goes on despite the harsh conditions.

Sand_03

Sand_04

A camel turns its back to the wind in an effort to minimize the discomfort of the blowing sand.

People scramble for cover from the blinding dust & sand.

Dust_Devil_01

Dust_Devil_02

A well formed dust devil spins in the baking afternoon heat. It was about 43 Celsius.

A "soot devil" forms over an old agricultural burn off area. The remaining ash & soot cause the dust devil to turn black.

Skiing on Sand Dunes in the Sahara Desert

Sand_Ski_01

Sand_Ski_02

I tried my hand at skiing on sand dunes near Hombori. I'm not much of a skier, but I had to give it a try.

As I mentioned, I'm not a great skier. Snow is much more forgiving to fall on.

Medicine Market

"Natural medicine" market in the capital of Bamako. It looked more like something from Robert L Ripley's collection of oddities. On sale were monkey heads, wart hog heads, well, there were heads from so many different creatures it was hard to tell what some of them were. Some of the locals believe that by using these "medicines" you can treat all kinds of ailments. I thought it resembled a voodoo wichdoctor's garage sale... Unfortunately, I believe that many of these are endangered species.

Market_01

Market_02

The heads of wart hogs, monkeys and cats.

More monkey heads, all simmering in the hot afternoon sun.

Djenne Mud Buildings

The town of Djenne is famous for its mud architecture and is considered a UNESCO world heritage site.

Djenne_06

Djenne_05

The great mud Mosque of Djenne - The largest mud building in the world.

Westerners are now officially banned from entering the mosque after an incident involving a fashion magazine shoot a few years ago.

Djenne_04

Djenne_03

All the buildings in Djenne are constructed of mud.

The special mud mixture, banco, is hauled up to the roof of a house. A new layer has to be added each year before the rainy season begins.

Djenne_02

Djenne_01

A worker spreads banco mud onto a roof to protect it from the rains which will come in about 2 months.

The only green in the vicinity of Djenne is down by the river where the cattle go to drink.

Dogon Country

The Dogon are a group of people living in the central plateau region of Mali, south of the Niger bend near the city of Bandiagara. The cave-dwelling Tellem, an ethnic group later pushed out by the arrival of the Dogons, used to live in the slopes of the cliff. The Tellem legacy is evident in the caves they carved into the cliffs so that they could bury their dead high up far from the frequent flash floods of the area.

Dogon_01

Dogon_02

Cliff dwellings along the Bandiagara escarpment.

A Dogon village.

Dogon_03

Dogon_04

The view from inside the Dogon village.

Feeling a bit like Indiana Jones.

Mopti

Mopti is sometimes called the "Venice of Mali" It lies on the Niger river and is an important town for general trade in the region, especially for the salt coming down from the Sahara to the north.

Mopti_01

Mopti_02

A pirogue boat at sunset.

Touring the riverside by pirogue is the best way to see the city of Mopti.

Mopti_03

The busy riverside at Mopti.

Timbuktu

The name Timbuktu has become synonymous with somewhere that is far away and difficult to get to. Many don't even realize that it is a real city. Timbuktu lies just north of the Niger river and marks the unofficial start of the Sahara Desert.

Timbuktu_01

Timbuktu_03

195km to Timbuktu. Not too far but the road is so bad that it takes about 7 hours to get there.

Camels relaxing in the afternoon heat in Timbuktu.

Timbuktu_04

Timbuktu_02

Home of Rene Caillie, the first westerner to make it to Timbuktu and make it out alive.

Timbuktu the mysterious.

Camels in Timbuktu

I took a trip out into the desert on camel, guided by several Tuareg tribesmen who have been travelling by camel for centuries.

Camels_01

Camels_02

Will someone get this camel a breath mint.

Oh, and the phone number of a good dentist.

Camels_03

Camels_04

Walking along the sand dunes of the Sahara on the camel back.

The view, north of Timbuktu.

Camels_05

Long shadows in the late afternoon.

Getting around Mali

A 4X4 vehicle is essential if you want to visit some of the more interesting spots in Mali.

Transport_01

Transport_02

The "Hand of Fatima" This region is very similar to Monument Valley in the U.S.

Driving amongst the sand dunes in the Sahara.