Archive for the ‘Things to do in Bamako’ Category

Filed Under (Things to do in Bamako) by Rob on 15-12-2010

Visit Rob’s favourite supermarket: La Fourmi.

Translated into English, la fourmi means the ant – a curious choice for a supermarket, but I guess they’re hard-working insects who are good at storing stuff away. Here’s one of their shopping bags, depicting a female ant pushing a shopping trolley (sureal!).

Inside, there are two storeys packed full of all kinds of goods: groceries, electronics, clothing, kitchenware, toys, magazines. Right now, they also have plenty of Christmassy bits – trees, tinsel, chocolate etc. Yum!

Prices are not particularly lower than other supermarkets, but there is a lot of variety and sometimes you can pick up great bargains (some of which are blogged about here). One of the coolest things (which my kids love too) is the “trolley escalator” which takes your trolley up to the next floor (and down again) without spilling any of its contents. Nice!

Finally, here’s the Fourmi Supermarket thanks to Tim’s Bamako Map:

View Tim’s Bamako map in a larger map

Happy Shopping now!

Filed Under (Things to do in Bamako) by Rob on 29-11-2010

Buy some nems and eat them!

It seems rather surprising that there would be any Vietnamese in a place like Mali (they certainly couldn’t have got here by boat all those years ago). But for whatever reason they are here and we’re very grateful, because their nems are both delicious and cheap! Four large nems for 1,000cfa – that works out at about 35p each. You also get light soy sauce, chili and lettuce leaves (we eat them and have never knowingly got sick from them).

We find four each is plenty (maybe 2 or 3 for the kids), so the whole family can eat for around six quid – bargain! According to this article (in French), the first nem stall started up only in 2007. By early 2009, there were twelve in the city (see this article) and I wouldn’t be surprised if there were even more by now.

So, you are never far from a nem stall, wherever you are in town. Add to this that the nems are delicious and that you get friendly service, then it’s an all round win-win situation! Also, if you order enough, most places stick in an extra nem or two as a cadeau. Fantastic!

Here’s another French article about nems and how much the Bamakois love them.
Not just those from Bamako though, eh?

Finally, here are a selection of nem stalls in different parts of Bamako, courtesy of Tim’s Bamako Map. This should help you get some tasty snacks more quickly! The centre of each picture is the approximate location of the nem place (NB you can zoom out from here to see the location more easily):

(i) Nems in Torokorobougou (pictured above)

View Tim’s Bamako map in a larger map

(ii) Nems in Sogoniko:

View Tim’s Bamako map in a larger map

(iii) Nems over the New Bridge, not far from Clinique Pasteur

View Tim’s Bamako map in a larger map

(iv) Nems in Niarela, not far from the Hotel Rabelais

View Tim’s Bamako map in a larger map

(v) Nems in the Quartier du Fleuve, not far from the Bamako Coura Church

View Tim’s Bamako map in a larger map

Filed Under (Things to do in Bamako) by Rob on 22-11-2010

Visit “Waspy Waterfall” just a few miles out of town:

A beautiful place for a relaxing day out and a picnic, I’m sure you’ll agree. We call it “Waspy Waterfall” because Tim (the ‘map man’) once got attacked by a swarm of the instects there and lost his glasses in the process!!

The journey there is an ‘interesting’ one and should only be attempted in a four-wheel-drive vehicle, as it also includes two river crossings.

The lower section of the falls has some tricky climbing (as well as wasps/bees), but the upper falls are calmer and our kids even had a paddle!

To get there is a bit tricky but, basically, you carry on along the same valley from the horse monument, fording the river to the right side (ie the ‘left bank’), then back over again a while later. Not far after the 2nd crossing, you will see the waterfalls on your right. Although it’s only about 9km off road, it took us around 45 minutes as the terrain is a bit rough!

Click here to see Tim’s route to the waterfalls – NB this is a bicycle route, so make sure you take the right fork in a car, not the left one which goes uphill. As far as I can tell, this is the waterfall from above on Google maps (shame the sun wasn’t shining on this section of Mali at the time!)

Finally, click here to see my Facebook photos of the falls (as well as another waterfall in Siby), and here to see Tim’s pictures (including an impressive one during rainy season).

Happy travels!

Filed Under (Things to do in Bamako) by Rob on 13-11-2010

Visit the Cathedral

Yes, Bamako has a Catholic cathedral, right in the middle of town. Now, if you’re thinking Durham, York or Cantebury, you’ll be sorely disappointed, but it’s still quite interesting to look at, in a parish-churchy kind of way. Right on the edge of the market, the cathedral is also a handy landmark for finding your way through the crowds. The interior is calm, clean and cool; the exact opposite to the market itself.

I’ve been to a couple of services at the cathedral. Very pleasant and the place is often packed! They also have a decent choir! Here are their service times (which may have changed by the time you read this):

Now, one time a friend and I managed to talk our way into being allowed up the tower, but I think this is the exception (no harm in trying, though). Here’s what the view was like from up there:

If you do get to go up, be aware that the staircases and floors are not necessarily up to Western health and safety standards!! However, they might let you up to the balcony, which is not as high, but lets you have a nice view of the interior of the building:

Here’s the cathedral from above, once again thanks to Google Maps. If you’re crossing the Old Bridge coming towards town, you can actually see the cathedral tower straight ahead, although getting there by car is a bit more tricky due to one way streets!

View Larger Map

Filed Under (Things to do in Bamako) by Rob on 03-11-2010

Visit the National Museum

Located right next to the Parc National, this museum is certainly worth a visit. There are temporary exhibitions which come and go, and some permanent ones (archeological bits, Dogon artifacts, textiles) The whole thing is air-conditioned, so it’s a good choice in the middle of a hot day (of which Mali has many). The entrance is unique, with mini ‘waterfalls’ flowing down from the roof – thankfully you don’t have to walk underneath these to get in.

The entrance fee is 2,500cfa for adults (about £3.50) but only 200 francs for kids. I’ve been told there’s one day a month when entry is free, but I haven’t managed out when (or if this is indeed still the case).
Across the road from the museum are some interesting caves (don’t get too excited, they’re also very small) and a model dinosaur – I have no idea why, but there it is! There are also small models of Malian mosques and the like as well as a life-sized sotrama with too much luggage on the roof!

Click here for an excellent site (in French) describing the museum in detail (beware of the scary noises, though!) Also, you can read wikepedia entries about the museum here: in English and in French. Have a good trip!

Filed Under (Things to do in Bamako) by Rob on 19-10-2010

Visit the Place des Nations and brush up on your vexillology

It’s a pleasant drive up the hillside from the city and a great view from the top as well. Now, the flags are not always flying, so you may be disappointed on this account. However, there are well over 100 flags from all over the world when they are up, so you can have fun looking round them all and guessing the countries! It’s very quiet and peaceful up there and you can even sit in the gardens and have a rest.

To get there, take the road past the National Museum and zoo all the way up to the top, then turn left (towards the President’s house). The place is on the right – you can’t miss it! Here’s it is from above, courtesy of Tim’s Bamako Map:

View Tim’s Bamako map in a larger map

Now, we did find that some of the flags were on the wrong poles for their labels, but finding these is part of the fun trip, right?! Oh, and Poland was actually displayed as Indonesia (as it was upside down). Other vexillophiles will understand this, are you one?

Let’s here it for flag-lovers everywhere!

Filed Under (Malian culture, Things to do in Bamako) by Rob on 12-10-2010

Visit the AMAZING, newly-opened, 42 acre ‘Parc National du Mali’.

We did so last weekend and it is well worth the effort/money (1,500cfa entry for adults, 1,000 for kids under 12).

I must say I had to ‘pinch myself’ more than a couple of times; somewhere as well turned-out, as peaceful and as naturally beautiful is often hard to come by in West Africa (described by one friend of mine as “one big rubbish dump”).

Not only are their neatly-gravelled paths, fountains, waterfalls and a wide range of trees and shrubs (including a herb garden); the park also includes a tea room, a café and a very posh restaurant! Then there’s a sports centre and various keep fit apparatus around the park too!

The Aga Khan, whose Trust for Culture helped finance the park, also officially inaugurated the park on 22nd September, 2010. In his speech, he said:

“Creating green spaces in urban areas constitutes a significant improvement in the quality of the environment and people’s living conditions. They are leisure spaces and meeting places for all ages and all social categories, encouraging different sectors of the population to mix and integrate. And they have proved to be catalysts for economic activity and a source of employment, both directly and indirectly, particularly through the services provided for visitors.”

See the full speech transcript here.

Click here for a neat francophone article about the park (with some nice photos). Here’s the park (prior to renovation) viewed from above on Tim’s Bamako map:

View Tim’s Bamako map in a larger map

I also put a load more photos on Facebook (visible to all), so click here to see the album of 24 photos, showing the beauty of this park in more detail. Meanwhile, what are you waiting for? Take a picnic and have a fun family day out at the Parc National du Mali!

Filed Under (Things to do in Bamako) by Rob on 27-09-2010

Go and see a man upon a horse!

Yes, it’s a fun outing to the monument and a steep but short climb to the top of the hill. From the top, you get an impressive view of the valley and the Bamako suburbs.

We took a small picnic and sat under the horse’s front legs for shade. Also, the kids can climb on part of the horse (though only on the right side, as there is a sheer drop to the left!)

To get there, head south over the New Bridge from the airport side, and then turn Westwards, over the ‘echangeur’ and onto the new road towards Guinea. When this road comes to a major junction (with a couple of petrol stations) head straight across, pass some cliffs to your left, and then turn left. From there, it’s a few clicks on a dirt road, so a 4×4 is advised!

Best way to locate it is to look at Tim’s famous Bamako Map. Here you go:

View Tim’s Bamako map in a larger map

I’ve no idea what it commemorates or why it is in such an obscure location where few people pass, but there you go! Of course, if you like equine monuments, you could also check out this one, at the Hippodrome in Bamako as well as this one, of a ‘river horse’!!

Happy horse-spotting!

Filed Under (Things to do in Bamako) by Rob on 06-09-2010

(Things to do in Bamako no.8)

Yes, I came to Bamako a year ago knowing that I may have to go for three years without eating my favourite food! However, this weekend, that all changed!

(From left to right: chicken tikka massala, mutton bhuna, butter chicken and a veg biryani at the back)

Yes, the ‘Namastae India’ restaurant just opened in Niarela, Bamako, next to the Hotel Dafina. (Click here to view the restaurant’s location on Tim’s Bamako Map). Delicious food and a pleasant, air-conditioned restaurant. Bit pricey, but no more than you’d pay in the UK.

Of course, we were familiar with this food for two reasons: not only do we know Indian food well from the UK (where it has a similar status to Mexican in the US) but we also know the owner! Jacky has had a restaurant in Cotonou for many years, and we ate there several times (even had a Birthday Curry there in 2005!) So, it was great to meet up with the man again (who, incidentally, also has a restaurant in Dakar, Senegal, and is planning on opening one in Ouagadougou too).

Here’s a sneak preview of the menu:

And here are a couple more restaurant pics for you:

So, what are you waiting for? Get yourself over to the Namastae for a delicious RUBY MURRAY!!!

Filed Under (General, Things to do in Bamako) by Rob on 12-06-2010

Visit the Broadway Café:

Apparently run by someone who lived in the USA for a while, this place offers good quality, western-style food in a pleasant, air-conditioned environment and at affordable prices! What more could you want?

Well, as you’re asking, slightly faster service! However, as long as you take a pack of cards with you (as we’ve become accustomed to doing in Africa) then the wait will go quickly!

My favourite item on the menu (so far) is the ‘breakfast burrito’ – only a couple of quid, but HUGE – you could almost share it between two people. Filled with potatoes, cream, veg and other tasty things, it’s a real treat!

They also do coke floats (or sprite or any other fizzy drink), and you can choose any two flavours of icecream from a decent range! Don’t take my word for it – visit yourself! It’s located a block north of the Route de Koulikoro, not far from the Fourmi supermarket or the ‘Express’ restuarant.

Meanwhile, have a butcher’s at the following sites:

This one has info about the restaurant – including a map

This is a blog of some missions folks who went there once.

And here’s a photo of the Broadway’s meat soup and rice, which someone thought worthy of publishing on a blog!

Thanks for reading – bon appétit!

(Added March 2011): the Broadway Café has moved to the main Route de Koulikoro, across the road from the Fourmi supermarket. The old Broadway is still there, now called ‘off broadway’ and has had a complete makeover (but now caters less for kids). We still prefer the old place, as it is much ‘cosier’. Here are Lois and Mics enjoying a meal there recently: