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
February 14th - March 6th, 2012

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
January 5th - 21st, 2012

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.
We also want to thank Ba, for his superb driving, especially at the ferry.
We also want to thank Boubacar for his patient and graceful driving in Bamako, and thank you so much to Barou for many interesting discussions and for the special shirts he had his tailor make for Andrew.
Thank you! Thank you!
Mel & Andrew

Mel Prest & Andrew Kleindolph, USA
June 29th - July 3th, 2011

[…] 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!! […]
In summary Tounga Tours, in my experience, is a very very professional company.
Excellent pre-trip communication.
Exceptional staff who made the trip the incredible experience it was […] .
Thank you!! I'll never forget this trip.

Jan Newby, New Zealand

Enjoyed the trip although tiring because of distances travelled.
The journey on the pinasse was a highlight – the boat crew were exceptional – professional and helpful. […]
More walking in the Dogon would be good .
Ibrahim is an exceptional guide – knowledgeable, helpful and with a sense of humor - often required.
Faudé (the driver) was excellent and always safe. Also a good sense of humor.

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.
The music side of the festival was rather a desilusion since the good music was played (if ever) only very late at night.
Food varied in quality (the cook at Essakane being by far the best of the trip), but not in type (beef, capitaine, poulet x rice, couscous, spaghetti).
We had very good and interesting insight into the parts of Mali we visited and took a lot of impressions form the trip!

Christian Kuhn, Mechthild Madlener, Mario Banelli, Alberto Banelli, Germany & Italy
December 26th , 2010 – January 9th , 2011

We enjoyed our trip completely and thought it was well planned and executed!
Only comment for future: on the itinerary where it says “overnight with a local family” in Dogon country, it would have been helpful to know to bring a sleeping bag or/and toilet paper …
Not a problem for us but we could imagine it being slightly cold or uncomfortable for others …

We'll certainly recommend your company and MALI to all our friends.

Happy Joll and best of luck!

Mollie + Laine Lewis/Steelman, Italy/USA
January 1st – 9th , 2011

Overall Mali was fantastic and authentic West Africa.
The West African people are absolutely wonderful and welcoming to travelers.
The music at the Festival in Toumbouctou was below average but the Tounga Tours tent was fun and very hospitable.
Hombori and Dogon + Mask Dance were highlights, as was Old Segou, Djenné.
Mix of accommodation, from basic to luxury, was great.
Sugar Cane in Banfora + Djenné Djenno + first night in Dogon [in Beignematou] were highlight hotels + Tamana (better than Grand Hotel).
Auberge in Segou very unfriendly owners + Kaaky Palace in Sikasso below average (too far out from town).
Burkina Faso was great but some places not worth visiting – Ouagadougou, Koudougou – people + culture were fantastic.
Isaac [the guide] was exceptional !! A great companion.
Sikasso not so interesting – maximum 1 night.
Bogolan demonstration in Segou was great.
Modibo is a great and very safe driver!
Overall very happy with Tounga Tours, Ann's management and the whole experience. Higly recommended. Thank you very much.

Peter Jensen and family , Australia
December 26th 2010- January 28th 2011

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.
Ann ably handled logistics, Samba was an excellent driver and Ibrahim an outstanding guide. Tounga made sure I experienced all that the fascinating culture of Mali had to offer. I would highly recommend Tounga Tours to anyone contemplating a visit to this wonderful country.

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.
Very well organised and an anchor point in Bamako is the ideal outfit.

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.
The guide, Ibrahim, was attentive, helpful and flexible at all times. He acted less than a tourism worker and more as a local friend, showing you the joys of his country.
I was pleased with the driver, Samba, also. The most level headed, capable driver I have had in West-Africa. Always on time and more importantly always safe.
Thanks for a great immersive experience. All the best for the growth of tourism in Mali.

Sean Chaplin, Australia

Tounga Tours - group to the 'Festival au Desert', December 31th 2009 - January 15th 2010

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
September 24th - October 9th 2009

The monday market scene in Djenné was fascinating beyond words; the people, the color, the smells... all with the mosque as a magnificent backdrop.
Hiking down (and back up) the Bandiagara into the beautiful Dogon villages; sunset pinasse trips along the Niger out of Segou and Mopti; And everyone, The children!!!
We will have many happy memories of Mali and its people, its culture, art and architecture, the stark beauty of the landscape; the star-filled night skys while sleeping on the rooftops in Pays Dogon. (...)

Gary Selufsky & Mary Deluca, California, USA
December 19th 2008 - January 3th 2009

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.
We take with us lots of fond memories and leave behind our deepest love and respect and appreciation for Mali and its sons and daughters. THANK YOU!

Bijoy and Joya Chatterjee , California, USA
December 18th - 25th 2008

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!
We have met very nice and friendly people everywhere and we are very satisfied with the whole journey.

Per and Marianne Kronqvist, Sweden
October 22nd - November 2nd 2008

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.
Thank you for our memorable time. We will recommend you highly.

Daniel Sheggles and Emily Barrett, England
August 6th - 22th 2008

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
December 30th 2007 – January 19th 2008

(...) 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
October 25th - November 12th 2007, Burkina Faso - Mali - Senegal

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. (…)
De reisroute was als globale kennismaking zeker OK. Als we nog eens terugkomen, zouden we kiezen voor nog meer wandelingen tussen de dorpjes (bv. Pays Dogon en Pays Mandingue).
Gezien we écht niet wisten wat ons te wachten stond, was het voor ons moeilijk om op voorhand wensen te uiten. De eerste dag (bezoek aan Bamako ) was voor on seen beetje te overdonderend. We waren nog niet gewapend tegen de overtuigingskracht van de verkopers.
Verder: bedankt aan het hele team, we hebben ervan genoten en keren met veel nieuwe wijsheid, souvenirs én tegenzin naar België terug.

Jutta Kleber en Laura Vandermeulen, België
26 juli - 13 augustus 2007

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.
Dus wij hebben geluk gehad dat Tounga Tours een heel bewuste keuze gemaakt heeft wat onze gids betreft.
We kunnen zeker Tounga Tours in België aanbevelen bij onze vrienden.

Jean-Paul en Ingrid Rebry – Bincquet, België
09 - 30 juli 2007

(...) on the whole the scenery was great, life in the villages interesting and the people very friendly.
We really enjoyed the pinasse!

Mattiello Family, Italy
11 - 25 july 2007

een warm gevoel aan een warm land...
natuurlijk qua temperaturen,
maar ook qua kleuren.
en last but not least . qua mensen.
een cultuur waar we al een beetje van geproefd hebben.
maar zeker smaakt naar meer!
bedankt voor alles!
aw ni tiyé anw koun bélila!

Guy, Marjan en Jana Vanden Broeck, België
17 - 25 februari 2007

Experience enrichissante qui correspondait à notre volonté de découvrir le Mali pour son art, ses ethnies, son territoire et sa richesse culturelle.
Une volonté d’avoir un contact directe avec la population.

Delezenne Gilles et Axelle, France
25 septembre – 10 octobre 2006

Een absolute aanrader voor iedereen die van avontuurlijk reizen houdt en open staat voor nieuwe ervaringen, andere culturen.
Als je info wenst van iemand die de reis al gemaakt heeft, stuur me een mailtje!

Els Clarysse, België
12 juli – 3 augustus 2006 foto's van mijn reis

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.

We houden er vooral fijne herinneringen aan over, van mensen, landschappen, steden, dorpen. (…)

In Timboektoe hebben we een wondermooie namiddag doorgebracht in een stukje woestijn in een Touaregkamp (Sandy, de man vanop de cover van de Bradtgids) –een onvergetelijke ervaring - en hadden we ook een gezellige avond in een typische bar.

Pays Mandingue was mooi van landschap (…).

Over het algemeen was het een fantastische, beklijvende ervaring. We zijn ook enorm in de watten gelegd wat betreft praktische dingen zoals eten en overnachten. Er kwam ons absoluut niets te kort!

De mooiste ervaring was zeker ‘le pays Dogon’, daar zouden we zeker langer doortrekken mochten we het nog een keer kunnen overdoen!

Birgit Dumez en Erik Segers, België
6 – 27 juli 2006