The truth is that my personal budget rates for Mali are completely skewed. The fact that I spent nearly a month hanging out in Bamako working means I spent less on activities than I would have otherwise. Also, the conflict in the north of the country meant that I wasn’t spending nearly as much on activities than I could have been. Personally, I think a reasonable budget for travel in Mali is about $45-50 USD a day. There is a lot of tourism infrastructure in the country set up so you can usually find accommodation, food, tours, etc. to fit any budget.
- Food and Drink: $25/Day; Unlike all my other budget guides for West Africa, this one includes “drink” because, well, I drank a lot in Bamako. We went out on the town about 2-3 nights a week. This probably accounted for about $5-8 a day worth of the budget, maybe more. In Bamako, you can eat street food for dirt cheap, or eat at fancy expat restaurants which will bust your budget instantly.
- Accommodation: $10/Day; I got a sweet deal at the Sleeping Camel in Bamako, and since I was there for about 6 weeks it eased the higher costs of my accommodation in Djenne and Segou.
- Transport: $0.50/Day; My numbers for Mali are skewed since I spent so much time sitting still in Bamako. I only really spent money on taxis in Bamako occasionally and trips to surrounding towns. I’m not, of course, counting the purchase of my scooter.
- Activities: $0.50/Day; Again, the numbers are skewed, but I wouldn’t have spent all too much on activities in Mali anyways.
- Misc: $6/Day: Visas ran up the tab here: $30 for a Mali visa at the border, $62 for a Burkina Faso visa and a whopping $260 for a Nigerian visa. I also bought a number of small things for the scooter.
- Total: $42/Day; I think despite my numbers being skewed by the fact I was in Mali for a couple months, my drinking probably levels out the final numbers. I’d expect to spend about $45 a day travelling Mali.
- Local currency: In Mali they use CFA, like most of West Africa, which is locked into the Euro at 656 francs per Euro. It’s not hard to change Euros and major hotels will usually accept them as well. In big cities you can also change USD and pounds quite easily.
- Banks and ATMs: There are bank machines in the major cities. Most of the ATMs are visa only, but you can also use the EcoBank machines which accept maestro. Some of the banks will do visa advances for you and the commission they’ll charge isn’t all too bad. However, they’ll generally just point you to the ATM if you ask.
- Traveller’s Cheques: Though it’s possible to change them, they aren’t necessary. There are enough ATMs in the Mali that you don’t need to bring them. They’ll just be a pain to change.
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