Endi, along the escarpment

Souleman by Dogon ladder

Cliff Dwellings

BANDIAGARA to BANKASSx xxI skipped trying to see Timbuctu. The chances of getting there were slim, hard, and long with not much to see upon arrival. I decided to take the sure bet and explore Dogon country.

Souleman Timberlee was our guide for three days and 40 miles along the Dogon trail. It was the right time of the year to go. There was a cool breeze almost the whole day. Still, at times our throats were parched. I thought of pioneers dying of thirst in the American West. Fortunately, we saw lots of people and several villages.

It was all worth it when we reached the escarpment. We climbed down a barren plateau, then further down to a paradise onion garden, and finally to the ground level. Souleman directed us to a little town with a market where we were to stay the night. Ah! More fresh water and a bath.

The view along the hike was incredible. Along the escarpment, villages could be found on the top, at the bottom, and even on the sides of the cliff. In the village of Teli we climbed the escarpment to explore the cliff dwellings.

On our last day, Souleman took us on to the village of Kalicoumbria, and then we were on our own for a 12 kilometer hike to Bankass. He assured us the road was easy to follow. "You couldn't miss it." I hate it when people say that. It was easy in most places but a few times we hoped we weren't lost. I remained calm since there were scattered villages, several pedestrians, and a good supply of water. But, I still kept thinking on "Death Valley Days". We were almost out of water when we came upon a big village. They directed us the last bit of the way to Bankass where we made our final connection to Mopti with its hot showers and cold water.

Copyright 2000 by Phillip Martin All rights reserved.