Friday, April 16, 2010

The 4-1-1: Fun & Adventure

Fun and Adventure

In Niger there is a game park near the Burkina Faso border, which would be a full day's trip or require an overnight stay; the park is not open during rainy season. Other day trips would include seeing the traditional gold mines near Tera or hunting for hippos in the river near the Malian border. Closer in to Niamey, you can observe a herd of endangered species of giraffe in their natural habitat and climb sand dunes. There is also a scenic place on the plateau overlooking the Niger River to picnic, ride camels, or just take a walk. Canoes can be rented for a trip up river to a visit to a local market and to see traditional pottery making. A golf course, of sorts, is available for those who are interested. A trip to the Niamey Museum / Zoo and Friday mosque might be arranged.

A walking / driving tour of the city includes historical sites and important places, such as mosques that are hundreds of years old, explorers' homes, library housing century old Korans and manuscripts, etc. Pastor Nouh is good to explain the implications of historical and current events to local Christians. Those sleeping on the roof tops will waken early to enjoy delightful smells of "takoula" coming out of traditional ovens as the sun rises. The Tourist Office will gladly sell you an official Timbuktu stamp in your passport and a "been there, done that" T-shirt. A camel ride at sunset to the dunes just at the outskirts of town and an overnight stay in a Tuareg encampment can be arranged.

Several nice restaurants and small hotels are available, including tourist-oriented craft / gift shops. There is an annual film festival and craft show in the fall.

There's a natural bridge about an hour's drive out of Bamako on the Guinea road, in the village of Siby. It takes about 15 - 30 minutes to climb to the bottom of the natural bridge. Adventurous people can climb to the top; it's a great spot for a picnic. You must hire a guide. Some of the following cuisine can be found in restaurants in Bamako: American diner-type food, Vietnamese, Thai, Lebanese, French, Italian, and African. There is a tourist artist market where you can find nice drums, great wood carvings, pieces of "bogolan" material and gold and silver jewelry, among other things.

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