Set on the banks of the great Niger River, Bamako, the capital and largest city in Mali, is one of the fastest growing regions in Africa. Travelers can find numerous markets and bazaars, museums of African antiquities, parks and gardens, and gorgeous peaceful plazas. Architectural tourists will delight in the historic buildings including Bamako Grand Mosque, the National Library of Mali, the Grand Cathedral of Bamako, and the majestic the King Fahd Bridge. Historical tourists will find multitudes of museums to explore including the Muso Kunda Museum, the Mali National Museum, and the Bamako Regional Museum. For pleasure seekers, there is the Bamako Botanical Gardens, Bamako Zoo, and the Great Culture Palace. Trek up to Point G Hill to see the prehistoric rock and cave paintings.
To truly grasp Mali's greatness, travelers should experience its wildlife and nature preserves firsthand. The La Boucle de Baoule National Park is home to many classical African species like elephants, leopards, and giraffes. Birdwatchers will marvel at the innumerable African bird species that can be seen including the famed Senegal Parrots, gold-crowned Gonoleks, Violet Turacos, and the beloved Egyptian Plover.
In the hotels and restaurants, travelers can find plenty of international cuisine, however, no visitor to Mali should miss out on the local cuisine. Regional dishes are prepared with many local crops like millet, rice, sorghum, and indigenous beans. Southern Mali folk are partial to a dish called "to", which is a type of millet pudding crowned by local vegetables. Northern Mali folk make thick homemade pancakes interspersed with wild native leaves. Bamako's local specialty, La Capitaine Sangha, is a fresh caught Nile river perch that is topped with a colorful chili sauce and sautéed bananas.
While it is extremely hot in the desert regions, it can be quite pleasant in the lowlands by the river. With overtly friendly natives and a persistently diverse culture that spills out everywhere, Mali is a unique destination of prehistory and intrigue that should be on every traveler's to-do list.