Travel Consideration: Mali

Contributed By RealAdventures

Mali is a developing West African nation with a democratic government. Facilities for tourism are limited. The capital is Bamako.

A passport and visa are required. All travelers must have international vaccination cards with a current yellow fever immunization. Travelers should obtain the latest information from the Embassy of the Republic of Mali, 2130 R Street, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20008, telephone (202) 332-2249. Internet: Overseas, inquiries should be made at the nearest Malian embassy or consulate.

Banditry and carjackings have historically plagued Mali's northern regions and the Mauritanian border. There have been several carjackings, robberies and murders in the Gao, Kidal and Tombouctou regions involving U.S. citizens and other foreign tourists. While banditry is not seen as targeting U.S. citizens specifically, the rise in violent incidents has greatly increased the risk to all travelers in the region. The U.S. Embassy in Bamako urges U.S. citizens to avoid non-essential travel and to exercise extreme caution while traveling in northern Mali (Tombouctou region and points north) or to any isolated area within Mali.

U.S. citizens should avoid crowds, political rallies, and street demonstrations and maintain security awareness at all times.

While the level of violent crime remains low, petty crimes, such as pickpocketing and simple theft, are common. Occasionally, female travelers, in particular, have reported being harassed in public places. There have been several incidents of carjackings, armed robberies and banditry in Bamako and in the outlying regions of Gao, Kidal and Tombouctou. Train travelers are advised to be vigilant for pickpockets, especially at night. Travelers should stay alert, remain in groups and avoid poorly lit areas after dark.

The loss or theft abroad of a U.S. passport should be reported immediately to local police and to the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate. The pamphlets A Safe Trip Abroad and Tips for Travelers to Sub-Saharan Africa provide useful information on protecting personal security while traveling abroad and in the region in general. Both are available from the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C. 20402, via the Internet at, or via the Bureau of Consular Affairs home page at

Medical facilities are limited, and many medicines are unavailable. Travelers should bring with them an adequate supply of needed medicines.

While in a foreign country, U.S. citizens may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States. The information below concerning Mali is provided for general reference only, and may not be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance.

Safety of Public Transportation: Poor
Urban Road Conditions/Maintenance: Poor
Rural Road Conditions/Maintenance: Poor
Availability of Roadside Assistance: Poor

Mali has a few paved roads that are in fair condition. U.S. citizens traveling by road should exercise extreme caution. Poorly maintained, overloaded transport and cargo vehicles frequently break down and cause accidents. Undisciplined drivers render traffic movements unpredictable. Construction work is often poorly indicated. Speed bumps - commonly used on paved roads in and near villages - are seldom indicated. Night time driving is particularly hazardous as vehicles frequently lack headlights and/or tail lights. Mali's unpaved roads vary in quality. Deep sand and/or ditches are common. During the rainy season from mid-June to mid-September, dirt roads often become impassable. Four wheel drive vehicles with full spare tires and emergency equipment are recommended.

PHOTOGRAPHY: Photography is no longer restricted, except for military subjects. However, interpretation of what may be considered off limits varies. Other subjects may be considered sensitive from a cultural or religious viewpoint. It is helpful to obtain permission before taking photographs in Mali.

CURRENCY: Currency exchange facilities are slow and often involve out-of-date rates. The U.S. Embassy cannot provide exchange facilities for private Americans. Credit cards are accepted only at major hotels, a few travel agencies and selected restaurants. Cash advances on credit cards are performed by only one bank in Mali, the BMCD Bank in Bamako, and only on a "VISA" credit card.

TELEPHONE SERVICE: International calls are expensive, and collect calls cannot be made from outside Bamako.

EXPORTATION OF ARTIFACTS: Mali is signatory to the Treaty on Cultural Property that restricts exportation of certain Malian archeological objects, in particular those from the Niger River Valley. Visitors seeking to export any such property are required by Malian law to obtain an export authorization from the National Museum in Bamako.

U.S. citizens living in or visiting Mali are encouraged to register with the U.S. Embassy in Bamako at the intersection of Rue Rochester NY and Rue Mohamed V, and to obtain updated information on travel and security in Mali. The Embassy's mailing address is B.P. 34, Bamako, Mali. The telephone number is (223) 22-38-33. The fax number is (223) 22-37-12.

Due to safety concerns, U.S. government personnel are prohibited from flying on Air Mali until further notice. The Department of State recommends that U.S. citizens avoid traveling on Air Mali for the same reasons.

As there is no direct commercial air service by local carriers at present, nor economic authority to operate such service between the U.S. and Mali, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has not assessed Mali's Civil Aviation Authority for compliance with international aviation safety standards for oversight of Mali's air carrier operations. For further information, travelers may contact the Department of Transportation within the U.S. at tel. 1-800-322-7873, or visit the FAA Internet web site at The U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) separately assesses some foreign air carriers for suitability as official providers of air services. For information regarding the DOD policy on specific carriers, travelers may contact the DOD at tel. 618-229-4801.

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