Bamako

To see Bamako in its entirety, head to Point G at the top of the Colline de Pouvoir (Hill of Power). A short distance away is the winding Niger River, which you can cross by pirogue (dugout canoe). Among the city’s most interesting monuments are the Grand Mosque and – for something completely different – the BCEAO Tower. Be sure to stop by the National Museum of Mali, and to experience local scents and sights, head to the Grand Marché of Bamako and the Maison des Artisans. At Bamako City Centre Market, stock up on produce, consult the marabouts and admire an array of jewelry and handicrafts. The home of Malian photographer Malick Sidibé, musical duo Amadou & Mariam, and singer Oumou Sangaré, this city hosts renowned events throughout the year: Rencontres de Bamako (photography), the International Percussion Festival and Les Voix de Bamako.