These pictures are from a bicycle trip I took to Mali in 1998.

Getting around

The first morning of our trip -- we don't know yet how many things will go wrong!

This was the first day of the trip, when our bus broke down and we were taking our bikes off in the middle of nowhere with no particular plan of what to do next.

As we waited by our broken bus there were very few choices of alternative transport.

This woman chatted with us at the side of the road. Tom gave her a picture of Utah (his home state) and she was asking us what the snow was in the picture.


This well was the original gathering point of Timbuktu. A woman lived by the well and provided water to the caravans that passed through bringing salt from the interior and gold from the traders. Eventually the city of Timbuktu built up around the well and thrived until the point when ships were able to circumnavigate the coast of West Africa, after which the camel caravans lost their business edge and Timbuktu became a shadow of its former grandeur.

This is the door to Rene Caille's house -- he was the first European to find Timbuktu and then make his way back to tell about it.

These boys are learning to write at a Koranic school. They write on wooden boards with liquid graphite (I think) and wipe it clean between lessons.

Even the older mosques have been modernized with audio equipment!

These girls are fetching water, and their mother in the background is making sure they get un petit cadeau for getting their picture taken (I gave them a trinket from my necklace).


A typical facade of a building in Djenne.

Looking out over the rooftops in Djenne

You can get Coke anywhere in the world.

Taking a pirogue from Djenne (in the background) to old Djenne.

A poster about AIDS (SIDA in French)

This woman makes the mudcloths that you see behind her.

Djiguibombo and environs

This sign to Bandgiagara was the only written sign we ever saw.

The village of Djiguibombo

A granary in Djiguibombo, you can tell this belongs to a man because there are three doors. Women's granaries only have one door.

Animist temple: Every sixty years there is a nationwide festival that travels from village to village, and when this festival comes to you village you put an animal horn in your temple. Thus, the age of a temple can be roughly calculated by the number of horns. This temple has 7 horns, so is between 360 and 420 years old.

The abandoned town of Tele. A holy man used to live here and people from the town below would ask him questions. But he died and took his wisdom with him, and they haven't found a new holy man yet.


This is the path we rode to the village of Niongono -- notice the bike tracks in the sandÉ


People put spices and plants to dry on their rooftops

The walls are made of stone with no morter.

The Sahel desert and the Niger river

This is the Sahel desert reaching the Niger river.

This is the river boat I took down the Niger river (when asked if there was gambling on the river boat, one local replied, "the whole thing is a gamble.")

This woman is giving her baby a bath in the shadow of a large ship that is at a busy port. The baby doesn't look too happy about it.

A pirogue taking salt from Timbuktu to the villages downstream.

A port on the Niger river, where people are waiting for the ship to arrive and do business.

Sunset on the Niger