Archive for the ‘Things to do in Bamako’ Category
Now there are so many blog posts in this category, I’ve decided to index them for you, to make it easier for you to find what you’re looking for. Here you go:
(1) Eating out
(2) Days out (in the city)
(3) Days out (near the city)
Have a couple of days break chilling out at the Hotel Woloni in Selingué:
It’s less than two hours’ drive from Bamako in a quiet location by the lake. You can play pétanque, go for a stroll, have a swim in the lake or take a boat trip (usually). And if you don’t want to swim in the lake itself, there’s always the nice L-shaped swimming pool on site too:
The hotel’s restaurant serves good food, but it a tad pricey. It is on stilts at the edge of the lake. Well, I say in the lake but it does rather depend on what time of the year you go there. It’s only really from October to December that you’re likely to find the water up that high; other times and the lake is still there, just a few metres walk away! Here it is:
Now, because the restaurant is a little pricey, we tend to take our own food (to which nobody seems to object) and/or eat at the Senegalese Restaurant just the other side of the dam (which does tasty meals from around 1500cfa). You could also try the Campement Yaala over the dam, which also has decent enough accomodation (but is further from the lake and a bit more basic).
The rooms themselves – like so many other tourist resorts in Africa – are made to resemble round huts with straw roofs. Nice and big though, with ensuite loo and shower! There is also air-con if you need it. They have one double bed in, but you can pay a little extra for them to add an extra single. We then take along two camp beds for the rest of our kids and there’s enough space to fit them all into the one hut! Have a butcher’s:
Here’s an arial view of the Hotel Woloni – you can see the restaurant by the lake near the bottom of the picture and the pool near the top:
And here’s a wider view showing the Selingue dam (the hotel is in the bottom left corner):
Now, go and enjoy a relaxing sunset like this one!
Go for another walk (or bike ride) along the canal!
Remember this post, showing one canal walk? Well here’s the second one, which can nicely lead from/into the first walk. Start from the Third Bridge and head roughly eastwards along the canal from there. Here’s what the path looks like:
As a new road has recently been made to get to the new Chinese Hospital, it’s best to take the left bank, which will be quieter. Views along the canal are very nice indeed and it’s a relaxing walk/ride:
The first small bridge back over the canal is a couple of kilometres down, then I believe you can cross over and return on the other side. As well as relaxing views of the canal, there are also points where you can get to the Niger River and admire the view there too.
Here’s the canal on Tim’s Bamako Map – the canal is the narrow darker bit below the wider one (which is part of the Niger River). The start of the walk can be seen near the bottom left corner of the picture and the first bridge can be seen near the top right corner. The blue line is the start of the third bridge and the tarmac road half way along (below the canal) is the road to the Chinese Hospital.
So now you know! Happy strolling!
Have a nice snack at ‘Le Nid’ in Torokorobougou!
Yes, this recently-opened place is air-conditioned and has good food and good service. Even the prices are reasonable! A chwarma costs around 1000cfa, burgers maybe 1500. I like the ‘Salade Africaine’ (which we’ve had several times without getting sick) – for just 750cfa (that’s one English pound!!) you get lettuce, tomatoes, peppers, onions, cucumber and egg! Bargain!
But it’s a breakfast time that I like Le Nid most of all: great pastries and cakes and the best café au lait in town (according to Rob Baker).
‘Le Nid’ means ‘The Nest’ – hence the light brown nest-like design on the walls inside. To get there, take the New Bridge (not the New, New Bridge) from town and exit as soon as you’re over. Turn right and Le Nid is about 300yds down on the right hand side. NB There is also a ‘Nid’ in town near the start of the Route de Koulikoro. Never been (as this one is closer) but it looks almost identical from the outside and (I imagine) does the same kind of food.
So, what are you waiting for? Le Nid is a handy, friendly place (with slightly whacky interior decor) to chill out and watch the news on one of their two flat-screen tellys!
Have a relaxing walk by the canal (no.1)
There are two nice canal walks we know. This is the first (although it’s the same canal, just a different bit! Will blog about the other walk in future). For this one, drive east along the south bank of the river through Magnambougou until you get out of town. Then, just after a derelict factory (with chimneys!) you’ll see a strange looking metal structure on the left. Leave the road here and park up by the sluice.
Here’s the place on Tim’s Bamako Map:
So, you’re driving in from the bottom left of the picture, then turn immediately left and park at the end of the lane. Then you cross one little bridge onto the triangular ‘island’ then the longer bridge over the sluice and you’re on a path between the Niger River and the canal.
From here it’s a couple of miles to the Brand New Bridge! When we did the walk (last Sunday) there were loads of mopeds going past, partly because the main road on the other side of the canal was blocked of for works on the bridge. Hopefully, this will change in the near future when the new bridge opens. As you walk along the canal, the view is very pleasant. You also pass a couple of small Bozo fishing villages.
Once you get to the new bridge, you can either cross over to the right and walk back along the road or turn around and come back the same way. Or, if you’re feeling energetic (or riding a bike) you can continue along the same side of the canal a bit further – that will be the 2nd walk!
Have some tasty icecream from the shop of the same name:
Yes, newly opened in Bamako, very close to the Fourmi supermarket and the bowling alley, is this icecream parlour. Here we are choosing our flavours (the place is nicely air-conditioned too, preventing premature melting of your icecream).
The biggest attraction for me, though, is the sheer range of choice: up to 36 different flavours, including passion fruit, apricot, bubble gum, strawberry, dark chocolate, caramel, mango, kiwi, pineapple, ‘blue’, papaya, and biscuit! Yum! Have a look:
Meanwhile the biggest drawback is the prices: no more than you’d pay in Europe, but still quite a lot compared with other places in town. 1000cfa for a cornet with one scoop is about £1.30 or $2 and if you have two scoops, it’s going to set you back £1.70 or $3!
Now, the Star petrol station next to Azar’s supermarket in Badalabougou sells ‘Mr Whippy’ icecreams for 250cfa a cone (yes, icecream at a gas station!!) and the yellow supermarket near ‘Handicap International’ in Badala has about six flavours at the same price. Even the Rabelais Hotel (best icecream in town until this place opened) is a bit cheaper, I think. Still, there’s nowhere I know of that has as many flavours, so it’s still worth visiting now and again (especially when the midday temperatures are still up to 37 Celsius!)
Buy some tasty, pasteurized milk from one of these places:
Yes, until recently we always relied upon powdered milk as the imported stuff in cartons costs a small fortune. However, a few weeks ago, several places like this one popped up around Bamako, selling pasteurized local milk, produced with the aid of a Swiss charity. It is sold in plastic bags for 500cfa per litre (that’s about 65p!) Here’s the blokey at the shop, selling me some milk:
He told me: “We don’t boil the milk; we heat it to 90 degrees Celsius, that’s called la pasteurization.”
The milk is full-fat and tastes good! In fact, it’s so creamy that we tend to dilute it a bit, which makes it go even further. We’ve been drinking it for the past couple of months and have not knowingly got sick from doing so. Here’s a bit of info, from the front of the shop:
As milk goes ‘off’ quickly, I’ve tended to pour it into plastic bottles and freeze it; that way we can buy a large amount in one go and then defrost it a bottle at a time. Here’s what 5000cfa (or £6.50) gets you:
Here’s where the milk shop in Badalabougou is located (just in front of the L-shaped building in the middle of the picture):
I’ve seen at least a couple of others in town, so keep a look out and, if you can, let me know where they are located. Meanwhile, why not try a glass of tasty Malian milk??
Visit the Jardin du Cinquantenaire, near the cliffs:
It was opened by the President of Mali last September and contains lawns, a pond, bridges, a viewing platform, an artificial cave and a waterfall (some of the year).
According to this article, it cost over 345,000cfa to create the park, which is about £450,000. Still, it’s a nice place to visit, although far from huge – you can’t “get lost” in this park like you can in the Parc National!
Click here for some photos of the garden and its inauguration. There you go. Not a bad place to take a picnic or a book and while away a couple of hours in a relatively tranquil setting. And unlike the Parc National, entry is free!
Visit the Campement de Kangaba, just out of town.
It’s a relaxing place to visit, with comfy seats, tasty meals, beautiful scenery and a pool! There are even huts where you can stay the night and marked footpaths all the way up to the baobab tree on the hill. Just the place to chill out at the weekend (if it’s not too busy then!) They also have a (rather pricey) gift shop and lots of African musical instruments for sale. Here I am having a go on a few of them:
Very nice! To get there take the ‘Route de Ségou’ from the Tour d’Afrique. Shortly after the road changes from duel carriageway to single, you will see a sign pointing to the left. Turn off the road and follow the dirt track for a couple of miles or so and you’re there!
Click here to see it on Tim’s Bamako Map. You can also click here to have a look at the Kangaba website – very well set out and packed full of information. Meanwhile, here are a few more images of the place to whet your appetite:
Go ten pin bowling!
Yes, I know it’s hard to believe, but Bamako now has an eight lane bowling alley, situated in the ‘Byblos’ restaurant near the hippodrome.
Amazing! It’s virtually identical to the bowling alley in Ouagadougou (Burkina Faso), which formerly claimed to be ‘le bowling club le plus moderne d’Afrique occidentale’. Well, now theirs is the second most modern (and has 5 lanes instead of 8). Click here to see the Ouaga bowling.
So on Thursday night, as it was Lois’ birthday (and mine soon) we went to try out our hands at bowling, with Micah. It was very similar to the experience back home: they give you nice bowling shoes and the balls come in different, colour-coded sizes.
There are even little barriers that come up for children, so that the ball doesn’t end up in the gutter! The only difference I noticed was that the skittles were actually attached by black cord on the top – a simpler system for getting them upright again, but which, I felt, slightly affected how they fell.
At the end of our game, here are our (rather unimpressive) scores:
Oh well, can’t win ’em all, eh? To get there, head for the Fourmi supermarket and it’s a couple of buildings east. Here it is on Tim’s Bamako Map:
The biggest downside was the cost: it’s 5,000cfa per person, per game (even for children!) That’s why we went whilst our daughters were on youth camp! That said, where else can you go bowling in Mali? And we can now say we’ve visited the most modern bowling alley in West Africa – how’s about that?!