Information & Facts
French is the principal language of business in Mali. Business
is conducted somewhat formally, but due to the heat, lightweight
suits are worn for important meetings and more casual attire for
regular meetings. One should use the French titles of Monsieur and
Madame when meeting and greeting. Women, in particular should dress
conservatively. Business hours are usually from 7.30am to 4pm
Monday to Thursday; 7.30am to 12.30pm and 2.30pm to 5.30pm on
Fridays to allow for mosque.
Mali's climate is hot and dry in the northern Sahara zone, north
of the Niger River, and hot and humid in the subtropical south of
the country. Rainfall varies throughout the country, varying from a
virtual absence of rain in the desert north to a rainy season
lasting for about five months from June to October in the south.
The middle section of the country experiences rainfall between June
and August. The dry season is from November to May, with cooler
temperatures between November and February that becomes cold at
night in the north. The most uncomfortable time to visit is from
April to June, with extreme heat, and in December when the hot, dry
Harmattan wind blows. Temperatures average 86°F (30°C).
The international dialling code for Mali is +223. The outgoing
code is 00 followed by the relevant country code (e.g. 0027 for
South Africa). City/area codes are not required. There are two
mobile telephone operators. Outgoing international calls are made
through an international operator. Internet cafes are common in
Bamako, and a few are present in other towns.
Mali is a Muslim country and visitors should respect the local
culture by dressing modestly (especially women) and asking people
before taking their photographs. Religious customs should be
respected, particularly during the month of Ramadan when eating,
drinking and smoking during daylight hours should be discreet as it
is forbidden by the Muslim culture. Homosexuality is frowned
There is free import of 1,000 cigarettes or 250 cigars or 2kg of
tobacco, 2 bottles of alcohol, and perfume for personal use.
Sporting guns are allowed as long as authorisation from the Customs
Department in Bamako is acquired within 24 hours of arrival.
Electrical current is 220 volts, 50Hz. Plug types used
are round pin attachment plugs.
Mali's main cities are connected by bus, and towns not connected
by bus are serviced by taxi-brousse. During the rainy season
passenger boats operate on the Niger River.
All visitors to Mali are required to have a vaccination
certificate for yellow fever. It is also recommended that
precautions against meningitis (particularly if travelling between
February and April), malaria and cholera be taken. Bottled water is
available and food should be thoroughly cooked. Medical facilities
are limited, especially outside of Bamako, and basic medicines
might not be available. Travellers are advised to bring a personal
supply of medicines with them. Comprehensive medical insurance is
essential; serious medical problems will require air evacuation
outside of the country.
French is the official language in Mali, but Bambara is
spoken by 80% of the population. Numerous other African languages
are also spoken. Outside the bigger towns few people speak French,
and hardly anyone speaks English.
The official currency in Mali is the West African CFA Franc
(XOF), which is divided into 100 centimes. The CFA franc is tied to
the Euro. Foreign currency and travellers cheques can be exchanged
at banks in Bamako. French francs and euro are the easiest to
exchange. Banks are closed on weekends. ATMs are only available in
Bamako and only accept Visa cards. Major credit cards, usually
Visa, are accepted in some hotels and restaurants in the capital,
but credit cards in general are not widely used in Mali.
Most foreign passengers require a visa to enter Mali. In some
cases, holders of a pre-arranged visa approval document can obtain
a visa upon arrival. Visitors are encouraged to contact their
nearest Malian embassy or consulate to confirm their visa/entry
requirements. Note that a yellow fever vaccination certificate is
required to enter Mali. NOTE: It is highly recommended that your
passport has at least six months validity remaining after your
intended date of departure from your travel destination.
Immigration officials often apply different rules to those stated
by travel agents and official sources.
All travel in Mali to the regions north, east and west of
Timbuktu, as well as travel along the borders with Niger, Algeria
and Mauritania should be avoided due to armed banditry and the risk
of kidnapping. Increased incidents of armed banditry have been
reported in the Sikasso region. The British government reports a
high terrorism risk for westerners in the country, especially those
attending festivals, and several tourists have been kidnapped. A
number of pro-Gaddhafi and anti-western protests have occurred in
late 2011, and embassies in Bamako have been forced to close
temporarily. Crime levels are generally low, but it is best not to
show valuables in public.
Tipping is not required in Mali, but is an expression of respect
as well as for rewarding good service. Tour guides usually receive
between 3,000 to 5,000 CFA per day.