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Bamako is the capital of Mali, located on the Niger river. With a population of around 1.7 million, it's the largest city in the country and one of the largest in West Africa.
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Points of Interest in Bamako
- Tour BCEAO.
- Bamako Grand Mosque.
- Pont du Roi Fahd, russia, ☎ 89209174251.
- Muso Kunda Museum.
- Bamako Regional Museum.
- Bamako Zoo (Towards the presidential palace.). Reopened in mid 2013 after complete renovation. Less than 200 animals from 100+ species.
- Bamako Botanical Gardens. Near the zoo and national museum.
- Point G Hill. Houses caves with rock paintings, and offers good views across the city.
- Mali National Museum. Decent collection of Malian art, artifacts and textiles in pleasant grounds north of the centre. There isn't a massive range of exhibits, but they are well displayed and worth a visit. Be aware that there are no English labels on exhibits, though English guides are available. 2500CFA.
Popular events in Bamako in the near future
Bamako has been continuously inhabited by humans since prehistoric times. In 1883 it was conquered by French troops, and in 1908 became the capital of French Sudan.
The city has only a few paved main roads (goudrons), the rest of the city's roads are unpaved, and get dusty during the dry season (November to May) and muddy during the rainy season, offering breeding grounds to malaria-carrying mosquitoes.
The city can be hard to navigate through due to the lack of road signs, the complicated layout of the streets and the one way system in the city. The roads are very crowded both with motor vehicles and motorcycles who appear to fill every available space possible. Traffic police are particularly vigilant and will sometimes appear to enforce very arbitrary traffic rules. They are usually on motorcycles as well so it is unwise to try and out run them in your vehicle as they will easily catch up.
Often the best way to navigate around the city is to hire a taxi-motorcycle to lead you to your destination. These are relatively cheap and depending on the distance can be as low as 100 cfa. There is no meter and price is negotiated upfront.
Unemployment rates are high.
At the end of each January, Bamako hosts the finish line to the gruelling trans-Sahara rally, the Budapest-Bamako . Hundreds of rally cars and motorcycles arrive in the city on the last Sunday of January.
- Pizzeria de Guido, Rue 250, off Blvd Nelson Mandela. Decent Italian restaurant - just don't expect taxi drivers to know where it is...
Love them or hate them, the French have left one decent legacy in West Africa: bread. Fresh delicious baguettes are ubiquitous, and travelers should not be worried about becoming sick because of the bread.
- Relax: Cafe with some indoor seating and a covered outdoor patio. Pastries, pizzas, sandwiches, steaks and good breakfasts. Reliable food and very casual. Located on the Rue de Koulikoro just a few doors down from the Azar and Fourmi supermarkets.
Vegetarians will have a hard time in Bamako. Asking for a meal without meat will usually be met with the kind of look reserved for children and elderly relatives one does not wish to upset. In a country where poverty is common and food is often scarce, turning down meat is an oddity.
That said, mornings beans, fries, and fried plaintains can be found streetside throughout the city. Morning, noon, and night you can find small streetside "cafes" where you can get a VERY fried egg sandwich and some nescafe. Several varieties of fried dough are also easy to stumble upon. Lunch- Rice and sauce is most easy to find, in local restaurants a plate with meat shouldn't cost more than 500, but can range up to 1,500. Evenings you can find attcheke (cassava dish), spaghetti, beans, boiled eggs, and fries relatively easily.
Meat eaters will be pleased to learn beef and fish are exceptionally good. Beef kebabs and grilled Capitaine, a freshwater fish from the Niger river, are always a good choice. Chicken are usually left to fend for themselves, and tend to be on the scrawny side, especially compared to North-American chicken. Although the situation is improving, you might want to avoid disappointment and just give chicken a miss while in Bamako. To avoid food borne illness, stay away as much as possible from fresh vegetables, and make sure your food is piping hot before eating it.
- Hotel Badala, Badalabougou (Second road right after German Emabassy), ☎ +223 2023 2314. Very well run, little known restaurant/brasserie. Excellent food (the Pave du boeuf is yummy). Excellent service. Small pool, outside tables. Near the river. Prices are relatively high for Mali but in Bamako you need a treat sometimes!
You can eat like the locals for a few hundred CFA a day, or shop in one of the western-style supermarkets.
There is one main market, in the centre of town, and several smaller markets in Bamako.
Supermarket-style stores are generally run by Lebanese businessmen.
- La Fourmi Open 9:30AM to 6PM.
- Azar Open 9:30AM to 6PM.
- Supermarket Le Miniprix It is actually the best one with the best service and with the lowest prices. They have a very clean store and are open from 7:30AM to 10:30PM. They also accept US/Canadian Dollars and Euro.
These stores will carry Western or Middle-Eastern goods, including cold cuts, fruit and vegetable, and dairy products including fresh milk and yogurt. Prices are generally higher than in Europe or the US, and choice more limited in a way reminiscent of a North-American convenience store.
There are many restaurants where you can get nice omelette sandwiches for about 250 CFA.
Many street vendors sell bread, rice, fries, salad, grilled meat; however, use precautions while eating on the street.
- Le Bafing, Quartier du Fleuve opposite the Service d'Hygiène, ☎ 6672 0781. Bistrot/Restaurant/Bar in a small street. Eating in a courtyard. Very good and friendly service. Daily special includes local dishes, à la carte steak, fish or spaghetti. Well stocked bar. Recommended. around $5 for main dishes.
Assalam - ACI 2000 between the obelisk round point and Place Can. Lebanese- good scwarmas, hummus, brochettes- varied menu. Pleasant staff.
- African Grill, Place de l'OVMS. Restaurant serving good authentic African cuisine, on a square just off a main road. Not luxurious but good. Beer and wine are available but, because of the proximity to a mosque, don't be surprised if on Fridays they ask you to keep the bottles out of sight on the floor. They have a second location at the Musée National. around 3000CFA for main dishes.
- Appaloosa, Quartier du Fleuve. Restaurant and Bar. One of the strangest sights on earth. Malians in velour cowboy hats and vests serve Tex-Mex dishes in the restaurant while blond Russian professional women work the bar. Must be seen to be believed. The food isn't bad either.
- Poularco, Hippodrome. Another Lebanese joint with slightly higher class food than the rest. Nice shawarmas, pizzas, and good mixed salads are on the menu here
Bamako has many Lebanese and Chinese restaurants.
- Bla Bla is where Bamako's upper crust go to relax and have a (expensive) cocktail or bottle of champagne. With a small but delicious African menu, a wide range of cocktails, and cold draft beer - it is one of the most popular restaurants to see and be seen. An entree here is around $15 US. Also this place frequently has art exhibitions for local artists.
- Le Terrace next door to the Bla Bla is a very large bar/lounge on top of a night club. Very good atmosphere and salsa music, dancing. Good pizzas and other fare.
- Le Relax is a popular Lebanese hangout in Hippodrome with quick food and free wi-fi access. Pizzas, shawarmas, and hummus are the stars in this menu.
- Broadway is a Western style restaurant which is pretty much the only place you can find a "real" hamburger with "real" cheese. Also on the menu are breakfast burritos, chicken wings, and shakes. Great if you are missing the comforts of home. Burgers only run $4 without fries but expect to pay up to $12 for a full entree.
- San Toro is a restaurant serving traditional Malian food and drink - no alcohol, but many ginger, tamrind and seasonal fruit based drinks. There is always live acoustic music there and the ambiance is very relaxed.
- Da Guido just after the Bla Bla Road becomes dirt, is a real Italian restaurant run by real Italians. Their oven fired pizzas are the best in Bamako and they also serve up hefty portions of delicious pasta. Expensive wine flows freely here. Walking into this place you will think you just walked into an Italian restaurant in Brookly with the Roman wall murals and brick floors. A good pizza will run you about $15 US.
The Evasion Jazz Club can be pretty cool on Fridays and Saturdays. The Hippo d'Or (close to Hippodrome) is also a nice place for enjoying non-stop live music on Fridays and, even more, on Saturdays. There is a big Casino near the Hotel L'Amitie. Ibiza, Blyblos (under renovation as of August 2010) and Terrace are still the hippest places to dance and drink. For some less seedy drinking establishments, try No Stress & Jet Set (formerly Privledge), which both have pool tables as well. Bla Bla and its twin in Badalabougou are known to get pumping on weekends.
Crazy Horse has some good food and is well priced.
- Ibiza, Rud Princess. Around the hour 00:00 on weekends the Malians come alive; this is a nice nightclub that opens up at 00:00 and plays a variety of dance music.
Prices are not fixed, and for many goods bargaining is expected. Beware, sometimes for common items (like food) the first price mentioned is just right. On the market it might be a good idea to first ask a couple of times at different stands before actually buying something.
Near the area of Bamako-Coura is the lively artisan market where traders from all over Bamako come to sell silver jewelry, leather, musical instruments and wood carvings. Prices are reasonable but the vendors expect their customers to bargain and enjoy it when they do. Once inside the market the atmosphere is relaxed and pleasant but be careful in the busy streets directly surrounding - it's easy to lose a bag to a thief.
Euros are widely accepted.
ATM's were difficult to find in Bamako, but their presence is growing. BDM banks have ATM's for VISA cards in several branches, and Banque Atlantique used to have ATM's for Maestro/MasterCard, but their license has lapsed, so VISA and possibly VISA electron are now the only options for all Malian ATMs.
This article is based on Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike 3.0 Licensed text from the article Bamako on Wikivoyage.