The air was fresh early this morning, but it was still cold. So I put on my trousers and Goretex jacket to keep myself warm and I checked out my hotel without having breakfast.

I got to the Gare Bandiagara (a bus terminal in Mopti for Bandiagara) before 7am and a bush taxi for Bandiagara was already there then (as pictured below), but it didn't leave till 8:30am. We had to wait for enough passengers to turn up....


When we finally left, the bush taxi was packed with 14 PEOPLE!! Everybody was squeezed in the back of the car and it was neither comfortable nor tolerable. Nevertheless, this was the only cheapest way to Bandiagara. So I just let myself go with it and tried to enjoy the true Malian way of public transport.
You might think, especially after seeing such a rusty vehicle in the above photo, that this is a joke. I'm not joking at all! This was the bush taxi that I took this morning, and the fare was XOF1,500 with additional XOF500 for my backpack - about USD4.00 in total.


The bush taxi arrived in Bandiagara around 10:30am. The driver unloaded my backpack from the roof and then Bebe picked me up there by a motorbike to the nearest hotel in Bandiangara.


A few local guys approached me inside the hotel by saying: " Do you have Kola nuts? 1kg for XOF3,000. "

Kola nuts contain caffeine and some elders in Dogon Country like to have them.
Luckily enough, I didn't have to buy them because a British guy who just finished his hike in Dogon with his friend still had some left and gave them to me for free.

Bebe and I left the hotel just after 11am.
Bebe drove his motorbike and I sat on the back-seat all the way to Dourou, one of the major villages in Dogon Country and also the starting point for my hike. We had couscous with tomato and onion sauce there for lunch and set off for our first-day hike shortly afterwards.

The photo below shows the whole scenery which could be seen from the top of a cliff where Dourou was located.
A lot of Dogon villages are established along that huge escarpment shown on the left side of this photo. Bebe and I will be hiking along the bottom part of this escarpment over the next three days.


My backpack was quite heavy as I packed two big bottles of water as well as some stuff, most of which I wouldn't probably need over the next three days, but I kept them "just in case".

The weather was dry and hot. It wasn't as blazing hot as I thought it might be, but it was still hot enough to make me sweat after a 20-minute walk. Bebe was quite a fast-walker. And so was I, but my heavy backpack slowed my pace down at times.
We hiked through a town of Dourou and then we walked down a deep valley to get to the escarpment.


There is a village called Nombori right next to the valley. We didn't make a stop at Nombori. We only walked past it, but I was amazed by how green the village was with lots of trees and fields where onions, potatoes, tobacco, and some sort of leafy veggies were grown.



Bebe was young and fit. We kept on walking and took a break only once today.
When I just started feeling my heavy backpack killing my shoulders, we reached Ydeli Na, a small Dogon village for our first night accommodation. It was just before 5pm and the sun was about to hide over the horizon then.
Bebe started preparing dinner for me, while I dropped my backpack in my "bed-room" and a local guy showed me around the village.


What I found very interesting was those unique mud-made buildings with pointy roofs.
Most of them are used as storages. Some are for men's and others are exclusively for women's.


Lots of kids in Ydeli Na came up to me and asked me for lollies. I did have a few candies in my bag, but I didn't give them to the kids because I believed that they would only repeat begging to visitors and it would not help them make their own living now and in the future. Harsh reality. However, paradoxically, when I met a few elders in the village, I gave them Kola nuts without any hesitation: I sometimes confused myself and wondered where the line for my judgment should be.


The photo below shows my "bed-room" for tonight - the first door (?) on the right in the photo. It was in a Dogon-style house made of only mud and stones.


No light and no furniture, absolutely nothing in the room except for two mattresses and a mosquito-net.
I put the mattresses on the ground and hang the net over them. Honestly speaking, I couldn't sleep comfortably, but I slept Okay.

Welcome to Dogon Country!



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