No traveller arrives in Mali, a town in the far north of Guinea’s mountainous Fouta Djallon region, without a story to tell. Mali, which is sometimes referred to as Mali-ville to distinguish it from the neighboring country of the same name, is as remote as it is beautiful. The town sits among rolling green mountains that include Guinea’s highest point. Crisp weather and incredibly welcoming people give the area a special feel.
There are basically two ways to reach Mali-ville. You could bump over difficult roads in utterly packed transport for several days from Conakry, or hike or motorbike up across barely extant trails from across the Senegalese border. Coming from Senegal takes two days and requires sleeping the night in the forest or, if you’re lucky, in one of the several villages on the way that exist off the road and electricity network.
Given the difficult journey, it feels absolutely right and just that the local tourism board maintains an active office to welcome any visitors. The office acts as a food and stationary shop most of the time. But when a visitor arrives, they provide warm welcomes and seem genuinely delighted that someone has come to town.
The office has a fascinating board which shows the number of tourists who have arrived in Mali every year since 1999, when only 20 visitors came through. There have been ups and downs since then, with a peak of 1,300, but always this remote Tourist Office has stood by, ready to give them a proper welcome.
Know Before You Go
It makes sense to come here first when you arrive in Mali. You will be asked to pay a very small per-visitor fee (around 2,000 CFA in 2019) and will get a chance to set up accommodations, tours in the area, or any other service. No addresses are noted in Mali, but any local will be able to point you to the "Bureau Tourisme."