Day tour to Djenne: the mud-brick Great Mosque and the monday market

April 5th, 2010  

Djenne is a very interesting city in Mali, largely made of dried mud bricks. The city stays actually on an island created by Bani river and its many branches, so its normally necessary to take a ferry to get there. On mondays, people coming from many corners of Mali, meet here for the important trading market held in front of the Great Mosque, the world's biggest mud building and UNESCO site.

Bani river, Mali Mali
Djenne is actually located on an island created by the Bani river and its numerous branches. Sometimes, during the dry season, it may be possible to find a way somewhere to get into the city, but normally it's necessary to cross a river by ferry...
Bani river ferry Ferry to Djenne
...and, this is the case for today. The waiting time is not too long, because the same ferry comes back an forth continuously, carrying tourists in their 4x4, cars with locals, small trucks and even horse drawn carriages.
4x4 stuck in the mud
Once we get to the other side, trying to help a car stuck in the mud, we remain stuck as well... but the situation is resolved quickly, thanks to many arms working together.
Djenne Great Mosque
Djenne is famous for the Great Mosque made entirely by dried mud bricks, the world's biggest dried mud building and UNESCO site. The mosque gets a yearly maintenance to fix the mud carried away during the raining season and the workers use the wooden poles coming out from the facade, to climb the building.
Djenne, Mali Mud brick house
Djenne Dried mud house
Djenne, Mali Dried mud homes
Mud brick homes

Djenne pictures. First of all, together with my guide and an additional local guide, we hike in the city, to better discover this incredible place, where just everything is made by dried mud. Homes and open spaces are frequently shared by humans and animals.
This building is a bathroom. The actual toilet is located on the roof of the building, the room below is just a huge recipient containing the wastes.
Once the toilet gets full, a huge hole is excavated at the base of the toilet itself, then, all the liquids are forced to fall into this underground hole. The hole is then covered by soil.
At the next cleaning cycle, the soil removed from the toilet base to create more space for the new wastes, is used in the fields to fertilize the soil (the wastes from previous cleaning cycle are now actually decomposed and mineralized).
Old mud brick home Mud bricks
Dried mud bricks

On top pictures, a building made with old style bricks. These bricks have an irregular shape; modern dried mud bricks are much more similar to a parallelepiped (lower-left picture). The buildings made with these new bricks are more robust and require less maintenance.
Djenne, Mali
Djenne postcard.
Bani river bed
This wide plain will be completely flooded during the raining season, changing the landscape totally. For now, it's used as a source for mud, to make the dried-mud bricks, and to cultivate some vegetables.
Child in Africa
Dried mud mosque in Djenne Dried mud bricks mosque in Mali
Djenne Great Mosque

The Djenne Great Mosque seen from a roof of a nearby home.
Djenne monday market Djenne monday market
Every monday in Djenne there is an important market where lot of people come from many corners of Mali, to sell, buy or even just exchange things. The market is held on the large square in front of the Djenne mosque.
Djenne monday market
Djenne monday market
Walking in the market where you can find fruit, spices, seeds, legumes, but also pottery, animals and just everything.
Great Mosque Mosque
The amazing Djenne dried mud mosque and the monday market.

A view from the top can give an idea about how busy the market is.
Djenne, Mali People on a truck

Just before the sunset, the people go back to their village or town, which can be also very far from here. Goods and people is heavily loaded on trucks and carriages, into an incredible load of humans and things.
Lizard Lizard

A nice lizard that I've encountered often during my trip to Mali. The animal is about 25-30cm long and the male is very colorful (the female is just brown).

The hotel Campment in Djenne is simple, but has everything you need: an in-room toilet, towels, air condition, electricity, desk and a good bed complete of a mosquito net. Food in the hotel's restaurant is very good as well.

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Western Africa Mali trip

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