With perhaps the most impressive mosque in all of Africa, Djenne doesn’t really get the international due it deserves. The town, home to some of the highest concentration of Quranic schools in the world, is a well preserved piece of living history. The mosque of Djenne is the largest mud brick building in the world, and the giant sand castle doesn’t disappoint. But there is so much more to Djenne than the mosque. Grab a local guide and let them wander you through the narrow walkways of town and through a world that can only feel thousands of years behind.
Time Needed: 1-2 Days
Backpacker’s Budget: 30-45USD
Things to Do and See in Djenne
Aside from the mosque, you’ll likely want a guide to lead you around the city. They’ll be able to show you things you would have otherwise walked right by. As someone who normally doesn’t take a guide, this is the one place I can’t recommend grabbing one more. No need to fear though, in Djenne, the guides will find you. They’ll likely run you about 5,000CFA for a half-day tour.
- Grand Mosque: The outside is brilliant, and if you come here on Friday prayer it’s an amazing sight watching everyone stride into the mosque.
- Markets: On Monday’s the open area in front of the mosque turns into a massive market. It’s an amazing sight. On other days, there is a little market directly across from the mosque.
- Manuscript Libraries: There are some incredibly old manuscripts in Djenne and the libraries offer a unique look into the past.
- Villages: There are a number villages nearby with interesting mosques and ancient histories. Jenne-Jeno is of particular interest.
Where to Eat in Djenne
As much as I would have liked, I honestly spent most of my dinning time at my hotel. There are a couple decent restaurants right across from the mosque, but they are all a little over-priced.
- Djenne-Djenno: I’m not sure if you can get meals here if you’re not staying, but if you can it’s worth it. Great food!
- Restaurant Dogon: Good local food and the price is alright as well.
Where to Stay in Djenne
Again, due to the conflict in Mali, I ended up getting a bit of deal in town. I imagine prices are still low as well.
- Djenne-Djenno: The best hotel in town is a bit of an attraction in itself. Amazing building, interesting décor, and a great view of the city across the water. Prices are generally about 25,000CFA but I paid 15,000CFA.
- Le Campement: The budget option downtown is a massive compound. You can get anything from a mattress on a roof to a room with A/C. They also serve meals.
Getting out of Town
Djenne isn’t nearly as well linked as one would hope, but if you can get to the main road you can really get anywhere. The buses and shared taxis congregate in front of the mosque.
- Bamako: 2 times a week there is a bus direct to Bamako. It generally takes about 10-12 hours.
- Mopti and Sevare: Best bet is to catch a shared taxi to the highway and then flag down a north bound bus.
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