These photos of Mali highlight this West African nation's best attractions. From mysterious Timbuktu, to the Bandiagara cliffs in the Dogon Region, Mali is a unique destination. Mali's traditional cultural festivals have become world events. And even the Dogon region's traditional masked dances are drawing international crowds.
Some tourists come just to see Mali's incredible mud architecture, dating back from medieval times. The most impressive example has to be the glorious Grande Mosque in Djenne.
Mopti is an important river town on the banks of the Niger River and a popular spot for tourists to stay at for a few nights en route to the more fertile south of Mali, or up into the Sahara Desert to the north. In Mopti camels give way to pinasse, boats that ply the river carrying the salt and other goods traded in far off towns.
Grande Mosque made of mud, Djenne, Mali
The Grande Mosque in Djenne is the largest mud-brick building in the world. It has three huge turrets with wooden poles sticking out.
Masked Dancers, Dogon Region, Mali
Dogon masks are beautifully created and used in dances during religious ceremonies. Tourists can witness some of the ceremonies from April - May.
Old Man, Djenne, Mali
Djenne's main attraction is the Grande Mosque, pictured behind this man. But it's also the people you meet in Djenne that make this a fantastic destination.
Mother and Child, Mali
Babies throughout rural Africa are carried on their mother's backs, freeing their hands to work in the fields or tend to domestic chores.
Dogon Village, Bandiagara, Mali
The Bandiagara escarpment is home to the Dogon people whose traditional homes are literally carved out of the cliffs.
Mosque in Bozo, Mopti Region, Mali
This mosque in Yonga Boza is typical of the mud architecture found throughout this region. Mud is used because timber is hard to find in the desert.
Man Entering Mosque, Senissa, Mali
Senissa is a small village outside of Djenne which boasts lots of artisans as well as two beautiful mud mosques.
Baking Bread, Timbuktu, Mali
Timbuktu was a center of trade and learning during medieval times. Some buildings remain from its hey day, and it's still an important stop for salt caravans.
Watering Crops with Gourds, Mali
Mali is culturally rich, but economically poor. Most people farm small plots and live off the food they grow. Traditional gourds are still used to water crops.
Mali Women Outside Mud Mosque, Djenne, Mali
The area in front of Djenne's Grande Mosque, is a natural meeting place for people and also the site of one of the best markets in Africa, held every Monday.