Dogon country mini trekking

April 3rd, 2010  

A two hours trek brings me from Sangha, on the top of a plateau, down to other Dogon villages below a beautiful cliff where there is one of the most spectacular landscape that you can find in Africa. Along the cliff there are archaeological remains of ancient buildings, some of them more than 2000 years old, and below there are the more "modern" dried-mud buildings of the Dogon people.

Plateau near Sangha Plateau near Sangha
The trek to lower plateau thru the Bandiagara falaise starts from Sangha, an interesting Dogon village that will be visited more accurately the next day. For now, together with two professional guides, I start to walk towards the cliff, under an hot sunny day and a temperature of +42°C. Due to the relatively long hike (about two hours to get to the lower plateau) and the extreme weather, it's important to protect the head, the skin and drink lot of water. If you are too sensitive to hot weather, it would be better to choose a cooler season, however, experiencing the extreme hot has been for me an interesting part of the trip itself.
A small heard of cows drinking in a pool.
Dogon country trek Dogon country trek
Trekking onto upper plateau and entering a small canyon, just before approaching the cliff.
Inside this narrow canyon there are small rice fields, now completely dry.
Ancient Dogon houses Ancient Dogon houses
Getting closer to the upper section of the cliff, the first spectacle appears. Inside the natural caves in the rock, there are buildings made by ancient Dogon, dated by the archeologists up to 2350 years ago. To reach the buildings, so high in the vertical wall of rock, it was usual to climb by using ropes made with Baobab bark.
Mali, Africa
Bandiagara escarpment Bandiagara cliff
Suddenly, like a mirage, the plateau on which I'm walking breaks in two parts, revealing one of the most spectacular landscape that I have ever seen in Africa. The savannah on the lower plateau extends as far as the eye can see and, unfortunately, no picture can give justice to this spectacular and immense view.
Mali Mali
Windows onto Africa.
Mali, Africa African savannah
Dogon country

Through a not too difficult path between the rocks, we walk along the falaise, starting to get a view onto the Dogon villages below us.
Falaise in Mali
Dogon cemetery Dogon country
We start to cross the first Dogon village along the falaise. On the left picture: the cemetery (personal things of the died are kept on a lower floor, but the body is stored in some cave upper on the vertical wall of rock). On the right picture: the first Dogon granary and other buildings.
Falaise in Mali Dogon village

With my guides, we walk along the cliff, between ancient and modern Dogon buildings, giant baobabs and amazing landscape.

Dogon granary Dogon Country in Mali
Modern Dogon buildings made of dried mud. The tallest buildings having a roof made of dried leaves, are granaries, while the buildings having a flat roof are houses.
Mud buildings
A building shaped as a man: the head is on the left; in the middle you can see the arms and, on the right, the belly. Over the roof, there are vegetables and seeds kept there to dry.
The vertical cliff behind the Dogon village, full of old houses. On the right: the granary looks like a man's face having an hat, the eyes, the nose and the mouth.
The toguna can be found generally in the center of the village and is a building made of a roof held by several columns. This is a meeting place for the people, used also to get some fresh air, repaired from the sun.
Dogon, Mali Bandiagara cliff

Walking in the Dogon village, with the spectacular falaise on the back.
Dogon country picture
Crocodile Crocodile
Going to another Dogon village, I see a pool holding many crocodiles.
Crocodile with a baby Crocodile with a baby
One of the crocodiles takes a baby in her mouth, to protect him from another crocodile. It was amazing, I have seen before something like this only onto documentaries in the TV, but Mali is also this, with a surprise behind every corner.
African savannah
A Toyota 4x4 brings me quickly to another Dogon village, driving below the cliff into a beautiful african landscape.
Dogon Country in Mali Dogon country trek
Granaries Dogon country trekking
Hiking in another Dogon village along the falaise, between granaries and other nice shaped buildings made of dried mud. A Dogon country trekking offers a combination of beautiful landscape, culture and nice buildings.
Dogon building
A door that, seen from here, looks like a big foot.
Dogon village
The animals share the same space used by people and is very frequent to meet in the Dogon villages sheep, pigs and goats.
Dogon town
Dogon mud building
A nice small granary held by wooden sticks.
Mud building
The interesting Dogon architecture.
Mud building
A Dogon wooden door.
Dogon dance mask Dogon dance mask
I assist to a Dogon mask dance. This is an option for most tours in the Dogon country: it really worth to see one, because it's not only nice and interesting, but the money helps also the village.
Dogon dance mask Dogon dance mask
Dogon dance mask

The exhibition over the trampolines is particularly nice.
After some group exhibition, every single mask does a different show, having a different meaning.
Dogon dance mask Dogon dance mask

Dogon pictures.
Dogon dance mask Dogon dance mask
Dogon dance mask
Dogon dance mask

Every mask has a different meaning.
Dogon mask
The dancers all together for the final greetings.
Mask dance in Mali
Going back to Sangha by 4x4 along a way that climbs the falaise. The panorama after sunset is again breathtaking. This wonderful day of Dogon country tour, where I've seen many unforgettable things, finishes here... but new adventures await me for tomorrow!

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Western Africa Mali trip

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