Where: Mali, West Africa
Best Season: November – February
Top Sights: Tribal Homes carved from the rock
What to bring: Sun protection, water and stuff to help keep your cool
Watch out for: Glaring sun at 100F +
Watch a clip – Trekking the spectacular Dogon Escapement in Mali
Where it’s at
The Dogon Escarpment is situated in the former French colony of Mali. Extending nearly a hundred miles from north to south, this is one of the most spectacular treks in West Africa, and can take between two and ten days depending on how much time you spend exploring the villages and cliff dwellings along the way.
The Dogon people first came to the region almost 700 years ago. As Islamic influence was spreading from the north, the Escarpment provided protection for the people from the plains, who were anxious retain their animist traditions. They are renowned far and wide for their fascinating culture and elaborate arts, as well as their unusual dwellings, some of which have actually been carved out of the bare rock face.
In April and May of each year all the villages celebrate the Fete des Masques, the major festival of the year. It is a time when the people remember their dead ancestors and celebrate the harvest. The masks they wear during the festivities are an important symbol of Dogon culture. There are various different types, including masks which are throught to pass on knowledge to the younger generation.
The most popular time to go trekking in Dogon country is November to February. March to May is the hottest time of year, when it’s only really cool enough to walk in the early mornings.
Temperatures in this area reach 110°F, so plan ahead and ensure you are properly equiped to protect yourself from the heat.
It’s not essential to hire a guide when trekking in Dogon Country, but it’s a good ideas if you want to get off the beaten track and ensure you don’t miss the most interesting highlights. Make sure you discuss what is included in the price before you agree to employ a guide. For around $15 a day they should show you the route, help with translation, and make arrangements with villagers for sleeping and meals.
TNT Travel Guide to Trekking in Mali
An introduciton to exploring Mali
The Dogon of West Africa (Celebrating the Peoples and Civilizations of Africa), by Christine Cornell (Library Binding, 1997)
By Jess Halliday