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Mali: Time for Timbuktu

National Geographic Adventure picks the 25 best new outfitted trips.
Text by Bonnie Tsui

Gabon  |  Mali  |  Namibia  |  South Africa

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Go Luxe
Mali is this year's Mozambique, an underappreciated African nation deemed ready—and ridiculously cool—by the travel vanguard. The landlocked Saharan state sits at an ancient crossroads, producing a startling mix of North and West Africa in music and architecture. Absolute Travel's newly developed trip launches this winter. Its focus: customization. The outfitter can arrange a concert and personal meeting with singer Oumou Sangare, the "songbird of Wassoulou," or a private viewing of Timbuktu's famous gold-scripted ancient Arabic texts. You'll trek through villages and famous markets and see nomadic Tuareg—the "blue men of the desert"—dressed in indigo robes and turbans leading camel caravans. In Le Ndomo, an artisan center that specializes in bogolan, a cloth dyed with river mud and plant extracts, craftsmen show you how to make your own piece of mud cloth to take home. In Bandiagara, treks along fantastic sandstone escarpments reveal the elaborate rock art of Mali's Dogon people; the villagers themselves will perform a traditional Dogon mask dance in your honor. At the trip's final stop in Timbuktu, the city's history as a flourishing Islamic center is evident in the ancient texts housed in the archives and the great 13th-century Djingareyber mosque.


Outfitter: Absolute Travel (


12 days


Gabon  |  Mali  |  Namibia  |  South Africa

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