In February/March 2012 my husband and I spent three weeks in Mali traveling with a car and guide provided by Tounga Tours. It was a fabulous experience. Tounga Tours was outstanding in all respects. When troubles erupted in Mali in November, owner Ann was very thorough and responsible in her replies to our concerns. She reported honestly about how the troubles had affected tourism and then kept us constantly informed about developments as our trip approached. In the end we made a couple of minor adjustments in our itinerary, e.g., we flew rather than drove to Timbuktu, but otherwise we proceeded exactly as planned (Segou music festival, 3-day pinasse trip on Niger, 6 days trekking in Dogon country, Djenne and Timbuktu).
We could not be more thrilled with the experience in Mali. It is the most authentic, fascinating country we've ever visited in Africa. The architecture is otherworldly, villages are beautiful and friendly, and the cultural history of the country is absorbing. We felt safe at all times, including in Timbuktu where we hope we were the beginning of a resurgence of tourism activity.
Our guide, Adama, has to be the best English-speaking guide in the country. He was a treasure trove of legend and history. He made everything about Mali sparkle for us. Our Tuareg guide, Abou, in Timbuktu was excellent.
Mali does not deserve to be boycotted by tourists especially from the US where driving through the wrong part of certain cities is likely to be much more dangerous. This country is a gem. Don't miss it while it is still as true to itself as it is right now.
Susan Laughlin, Benicia, California
Adama + Bah are Mali's treasures. We were taken care of with the greatest amount of kindness, generosity and consideration every step of the way. Bah was very familiar with all aspects of “driving” such as safety, punctuality (timeless) and comfort. Adama's skills are vast: familiarity, intelligence and thoughtfulness. His respect for the Malian people is outstanding. In terms of hotels most were sufficient and when they weren't Adama ensured that they catered to our needs. The hotel in Gaoua, Burkina Faso was by far the least favorable (…). Local guides could improve their English skill but overall they were very nice + respectful. Also Latif (guide for Burkina was excellent. Very knowledgeable of his area + very respectful.)
Vicki Camilleri & Randy Barnett, USA
The trip Ann created for us was truly amazing! Though our time in Mali was short, we were able to visit many regions and learn about ancient and recent history. The best part was the patience and generosity of our guide, Adama, who brought us through Dogon country, introduced us to local people and cultural traditions of different villages. We felt very comfortable with the Mali people and were grateful for their hospitality and kindness of Ann, Sophie (Djenne Djenno) when we stayed in their Inns – both mixed European and African influences in architecture and décor. It felt absolutely safe to travel in Mali and we hope to return again soon to explore the arts and music which thrive here.
Mel Prest & Andrew Kleindolph, USA
[…] Excellent […]. It was quite tiring on 2 days because of the distances travelled. We saw a lot of Mali in a short time. […] I loved the pinasse. I was quite disappointed in the Festival in the Desert because of awful scheduling – having the good bands on really really late when it was freezing cold […]. On balance though the itinerary was really good. I'm a bit overwhelmed by it all!! […]
Jan Newby, New Zealand
Enjoyed the trip although tiring because of distances travelled.
Evan Cole , Australia
Tounga Tours - group to the 'Festival au Desert', December 30th 2010 - January 14th 2011
The trip was very well organized and everything worked out fine. Our guide and driver were excellent.
Christian Kuhn, Mechthild Madlener, Mario Banelli, Alberto Banelli, Germany & Italy
We enjoyed our trip completely and thought it was well planned and executed!
We'll certainly recommend your company and MALI to all our friends.
Happy Joll and best of luck!
Mollie + Laine Lewis/Steelman, Italy/USA
Overall Mali was fantastic and authentic West Africa.
I was extremely pleased with my Tounga Tour experience in Mali. Travelling up the Niger in a pinasse, attending the Festival in the Desert and trekking through Dogon country will always be cherished memories for me.
Robert Chatham, USA
Mali is a country to discover and deserves better. Very friendly people, never experienced criminality. The climate was more positive than a northern European could fear and no nasty animals or bugs to spoil the day. The Niger river on a pinasse, Timbuktu and the desert, Dogon country trekking where 3 highlights that make a complete and perfect fit for a 2 weeks travel.
Gabriel Vanhulle, Belgium
The tour exceeded my expectations. Having spent a number of years in West-Africa (Ghana) I was prepared for all the "typical quirks" of the region.
Sean Chaplin, Australia
The company provided a very good driver and guide and all aspects of the trip went completely as agreed. All of the hotels chosen where among the best in each location. We particularly enjoyed the night out in the desert with the Touareg from Timbuktu.
Don Poisson & Melinda Entwistle, Vancouver, Canada
The monday market scene in Djenné was fascinating beyond words; the people, the color, the smells... all with the mosque as a magnificent backdrop.
Gary Selufsky & Mary Deluca, California, USA
Thank you for a wonderful experience: We enjoyed every minute of our stay! Abou in Timbuktu and Adama and Seydou in the rest of the trip took care of us like we were family. They will be missed by us. Thank you for a wonderful trip. Adama's stories and his lively discussions and questions opened our minds and souls to the people of Mali.
Bijoy and Joya Chatterjee , California, USA
We saw a lot of (what we think) the authentic Africa when we walk around in the villages in Dogon Country, Mopti, Djenné and Bamako both together with our guide and also sometimes by ourselves, and we thought that was very good!
Per and Marianne Kronqvist, Sweden
Tounga Tours did what it said and far more. You really do experience authentic Africa – meeting the locals and seeing the culture first hand. Our tour ran smoothly, we visited lots of fantastic sights of Mali . The Tounga team is really friendly, our guide Adama was brilliant and our driver was always there when we needed him. We were really made to feel welcome at the guesthouse and all the accommodation was great.
Daniel Sheggles and Emily Barrett, England
In conversation with other travellers, it becomes clear that the Tounga Tours experience is by far the best. When fishermen were cleaning nets,our guide took us to them on the beach so we could experience it. When men in the Dogon Country were cleaning a well, our guide stopped to help. We had the opportunity to sit in villages with elders and chiefs, and on our behalf, our guide built bridges between us and the people we met. Most of the time we felt like we were travelling with a friend, and meeting new friends, not as if we were on a tour. It was also clear that our guide was liked by all who met us, so we were always represented in a positive and charming manner. We appreciated the opportunity to use local transportation. Our trip was also a good balance between tent, hotel and roof top. Having a woman guide on the first day was also a special treat. And having the Tounga Guest house as a “base” was also good. Our guide was particularly sensitive to all our needs, and his intelligence and pride in his culture made the trip wonderful.
Janet Mandell (with Debra Sampson), Seattle , USA
(...) thank you for all you that you did. We had a great holiday. Adama was a great guide and seeing the prices of things in West Africa, we felt that your prices were very fair. I look forward to using you again when we are in your part of the world! In the mean time I will recommend you to my friends.
Kristian Scicluna, Nicholas Schede and Florian Kirwald, Malta & Germany
We hebben een geweldige eerste reiservaring in Mali achter de rug, die zeker ook voor een groot stuk te danken is aan het inlevingsvermogen, de kennis en het organisatietalent van Sory. (…)
Jutta Kleber en Laura Vandermeulen, België
Voor ons was het de eerste kennismaking met Afrika. Daarom was de steun van Boubacar onze gids heel belangrijk. Daar hij zelf zo respectvol is voor zijn eigen volk en zijn land met een heel open visie, kregen wij de kans het echte Mali te ontdekken. Hij beschikt over een diepgaande kennis op alle vlakken.
Jean-Paul en Ingrid Rebry – Bincquet, België
(...) on the whole the scenery was great, life in the villages interesting and the people very friendly.
Mattiello Family, Italy
een warm gevoel aan een warm land...
Guy, Marjan en Jana Vanden Broeck, België
Experience enrichissante qui correspondait à notre volonté de découvrir le Mali pour son art, ses ethnies, son territoire et sa richesse culturelle.
Delezenne Gilles et Axelle, France
Een absolute aanrader voor iedereen die van avontuurlijk reizen houdt en open staat voor nieuwe ervaringen, andere culturen.
De reis was een geweldige ervaring! Het stelt de dingen in een ander perspectief, je bekijkt Afrika op een andere manier, een meer betrokken manier, genuanceerder ook.