We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

Safety in Mali

New York, NY
Level Contributor
20 posts
181 reviews
Save Topic
Safety in Mali

I just returned from a trip to Mali. I had planned to fly to Timbuktu and Mopti and hike in the Dogon Country. The situation is far worse than anywhere mentioned in the Western press. The Tuareg are holding hostages in the eastern part of Mali. The city of Timbuktu is not safe either. The embassy advisories have to be taken very seriously. Westerners are taken hostage and a ransom is demanded. Most Westerners now either work for a government or a NGO organization. The criminals will contact the organization or governments and huge sums are shelled out right away. If you travel as an unaffiliated tourist you can be killed. The land borders between Mali and Burkina Faso are not safe and Al-Queida is very active in those areas, trying to take Westerns as hostages.

UK
Destination Expert
for Malindi, Ukunda, Kenya
Level Contributor
4,726 posts
9 reviews
Save Reply
1. Re: Safety in Mali

Tom, are you sure this is right? The far northeast of Mali isn't safe, but are you saying you were dissuaded from flying to Timbuktu? And you didn't even feel safe visiting Mopti or Dogon country? That is not the experience of most other travellers currently in Mali. And people attending the Festival in the Desert at

Timbuktu really shouldn't be put off.

Richard

Brooklyn, New York
Level Contributor
9 posts
3 reviews
Save Reply
2. Re: Safety in Mali

Do you have specific examples of what you're warning about, aside from the French people who were taken in Niger? Where are you reading about attempted kidnappings in Dogon and Mopti and on the borders with Burkina?

You say "westerners are being taken hostage and a ransom is demanded" like it happens daily on every street corner. Aside from the 5 french and 2 African people taken in from an oil field in Niger in September, what, exactly, are you talking about?

"The city of Timbuktu is not safe either"... why? Please tell us exactly why you are saying this.

Also, you never said why you didn't even go to TImbuktu - someone wouldn't let you or you decided not to because your embassy has a travel warning. The US travel warning for Mali hasn't been updated since August, so I can't imagine it was them...

"If you travel as an unaffiliated tourist, you can be killed"... What on EARTH are you talking about?!

It seems from your other posts on this forum that you've made it your life's mission to disuade people from visiting Africa. You can have your opinions, but don't just put rubbish on these forums.

PS: yes to Richard. Visit Mali but skip Timbuktu? You'll regret missing that chance!

Edited: 11 December 2010, 23:18
Istanbul, Turkey
Level Contributor
21 posts
148 reviews
Save Reply
3. Re: Safety in Mali

My friend and I just returned from a 9 day trip to Mali (flew home on Dec. 6, 2010). We didn't feel at all unsafe. We visited Bamako, Segou, Mopti, Djenne, Timbuktu and the Dogon region. We had no problems at all and a lovely time. (We are middle aged, middle class white girls who stand out in a Malian crowd.) Besides being bowled over by a few hawkers selling mud cloth, we had no problems.

England
Level Contributor
15 posts
20 reviews
Save Reply
4. Re: Safety in Mali

we returned from a 2 week overland trip within Mali yesterday night.

We flew into Bamako and then went as independant travellers with one guide and one driver through to Segou, hiked through Dogon counntry for 4 days and then drove to Hombori, Timbuktu and Djenne. We also went into a Tuareg camp a few miles north of Timbuktu,

Thoughout this 2 week trip we never felt threatend in any way, and found the Malians charming and the facilities good, bearing in mind Malis' GDP.

We met many single travellers who would also agree with what we have written above.

Based on our and their very recent experiences, the original poster's comments seem to be inaccurate and alarmist

Sydney, Australia
Level Contributor
48 posts
252 reviews
Save Reply
5. Re: Safety in Mali

What? We went to Mali at the end of 2010,beginning of 2011 and were met with friendly and welcoming people everywhere.

Sure you are not repeating western government propaganda???

What did you base your comments on? Real life, personal experience of incidents?

Londonderry, New...
Level Contributor
7 posts
84 reviews
Save Reply
6. Re: Safety in Mali

I just got back from 6 days in Mali and was persuaded by the US Embassy to cancel my visit to Dogon country. Even in Bamako the threat level was elevated due to threats and we were encouraged to keep a low profile. I am sure most of the people in the country are fine and welcome tourists, but its the few guys that reach out and grab you and throw you in a truck that are the problem. I can always come back later and see Dogon when hopefully things settle down. My advice is to check in with your embassy and see what the latest update is for where you are going. They have a good idea of what specific threats are out there.

UK
Destination Expert
for Malindi, Ukunda, Kenya
Level Contributor
4,726 posts
9 reviews
Save Reply
7. Re: Safety in Mali

There's certainly a propaganda campaign under way to dissuade people from visiting parts of Mali that in every sense are completely safe and secure. I'm personally not convinced by the level of threat implied in recent travel advisories from the UK and US.

How many Americans have died in terrorist incidents around the world, and where have most of them been killed, and how many Europeans (same question).

I've blogged in detail about how safe or unsafe travel in the Sahel is at http://theroughguidetowestafrica.blogspot.com

JanevAustralia, you say "it's the few guys that reach out and grab you and throw you in a truck that are the problem"

Which "few guys"? Who? Where?

The risks, based on actual events since 2003, are very small indeed, and I'd like to know what any assessed risks in Mali south or west of the Niger river are based on, as there have not been incidents in this region *at all* and the recent music festival outside Timbuktu was enjoyed safely by hundreds of tourists.

But these are just my views. If anyone has hard evidence to the contrary, or I've overlooked incidents, then please post.

Richard Trillo

Sydney, Australia
Level Contributor
48 posts
252 reviews
Save Reply
8. Re: Safety in Mali

Richard, can you please check your facts. You have misquoted us

JanevAustralia, you say "it's the few guys that reach out and grab you and throw you in a truck that are the problem"

Which "few guys"? Who? Where?

I did not say that, I don't agree with such sentiments - I totally agree with you that the so called risks in Mali are distorted (I think for political and economic reasons). We had a very good trip and felt totally safe at all times.

UK
Destination Expert
for Malindi, Ukunda, Kenya
Level Contributor
4,726 posts
9 reviews
Save Reply
9. Re: Safety in Mali

Sorry Jane, big apology for that. I meant ithanmari, not you.

Richard

SF
4 posts
Save Reply
10. Re: Safety in Mali

I went to Mali in Jan 2011 for the festival, and I felt perfectly safe at all times. I don't entirely understand all the politics involved, but obviously there are people trying to (and indeed already have) commit acts of terror in NY, London and Madrid, among others, and yet there are no travels warnings for those cities. Mali as a whole is much safer than most inner cities in the U.S. Bad things can happen anywhere, but generally speaking Mali seems very safe. The festival was an amazing experience, the people and music of Mali are wonderful, and I would not let the travel warnings deter you.

Get answers to your questions about Mali