(This is the second of a six-part photo essay on traveling through Mali. Previous posts: Part I. Subsequent posts: Part III)

The Mopti on the ocean in Mali, Africa

Mopti, Mali, Africa (Photo by Andrea Papitto)

Affectionately known as the “Venice of Mali,” the river city of Mopti is an indispensable stop for tourists traveling by boat to Timbuktu, Djenne or into Dogon Country. Pinasses—or long, wooden, motorized canoes—sail along the Niger River, departing hourly from the city’s famed ports. As Mali’s fourth largest city with a population of 110,000, the country’s current president, Amadou Toumani Toure, also happens to have been born and raised there.

Composed of three mini-islands linked by dykes, Mopti lies at the juncture of the Niger and Bani rivers. Known for its relative density in comparison to other Malian cities, Mopti boasts multi-storied buildings, narrow streets and a walkable city center. As Mali’s single most important port city, its local markets bustle under the shade of trees that line the riverbanks. Local specialties there include Saharan salt, seafood and rice. Tourists also flock to Mopti’s Grand Mosque and its quaint, neighboring fishing villages.

Check out our video, “Welcome to the River Niger & Bani River in Mopti, Mali,” which we filmed during our travels.