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Flag Source: CIA World Factbook
Getting In and Around
Most foreigners visiting Mali need a visa, and all need proof of yellow fever vaccination. One can apply for visas of various durations. Fees vary depending on country of citizenship. Check out the complete visa requirements for Mali
For those entering Mali from a bordering country, short-term tourist visas can be purchased at the border. Be sure to photocopy the first three pages of your passport, including the page containing your visa, and keep the photocopies separate from your passport in case it should be lost or stolen.
It is possible to rent a car or a four-by-four to get around Mali, though we recommend hiring a driver along with your vehicle. Outside of urban areas, roads are often unpaved or in poor condition
A number of bus companies operate throughout Mali, most with hubs in Bamako. Buses traveling to small towns often do not run on set schedules, and they depart when they are full; make sure your schedule is flexible! Otherwise, buses to bigger cities are generally on time. Most roads in Mali are unpaved, so whether you are driving or being driven, be prepared for a bumpy ride.
It is also possible to travel by boat to and from cities along the Niger, Bani, and Sénégal rivers. The largest company running ferries up and down the Niger River between Bamako and Mopti is called COMANAV. You can catch the boats at various ports. This mode of transportation, while scenic, is extremely slow.
Even if you have an international plan on your mobile phone, making local calls or calls back home can be very expensive. If you plan on needing or using a phone while traveling, we’d recommend renting a SIM card or buying a prepaid mobile phone and adding minutes as needed.
Safety and Security
Mali is known for being one of the most peaceful countries in West Africa. However, we advise checking the U.S. Department of State’s consular website for up-to-date Mali travel warnings
, especially if you are considering traveling to northern Mali. Though Malians are known for being extremely helpful and generous: always have your wits about you while traveling, and mind your belongings.
The Mo Ibrahim Foundation has created a security ratings system called the Ibrahim Index
, wherein scores are based on each country’s quality of government. Before traveling to Mali or anywhere on the continent, check the index and do your research.