It’s hard for me to tell you exactly what Segou is as a travel destination. I was in town during the time of war, and I think the nearest tourist must have been a couple hundred miles away. When I was in town, it was a bit of a ghost town. The streets were empty aside from a small collection of souvenir salesman that have stuck around. There was a desperate feel to Segou, but at the same time, it was quite an interesting stop.
Right on the Niger river, Segou has an air of ancient history to it. Mud brick buildings line the walkways, women clean clothing along the banks of the river, and old men holding wooden canes sit under trees deep in discussion. Despite the lack of excitement in town, I thoroughly enjoyed my time in Segou.
Time Needed: 1-2 days
Backpacker’s Budget: 45-50USD
Things to do in Segou
- The river front: A nice stroll as long as the heat of the day isn’t too fierce, a walk along the river offers a look at the history of Segou, as well as a couple mosques and some pottery.
- Pirogue Excursions: There are lots of interesting villages around town and many are only accessible via pirogue. If you’re around on a weekend, head to Kalabougou where you can see fresh pottery being fired. Half-day trips on the pirogues will likely cost you about 50USD.
- Espace Bajidala: Apparently this art gallery is quite good. However, when I was in town it was closed.
Where to Eat in Segou
There are a couple smaller supermarkets in Segou along the highway and some people serving street food there as well. If you’re looking for bargains in terms of food, your best bet is street food. More established hotels and restaurants are a little more pricey thanks to the influx of tourists (when the country isn’t at war).
- Restaurant de l’Esplanade: There isn’t a restaurant in town with a better location. Right on the water, this place serves up everything from pizza to local dishes.
- L’Auberge: This hotel has a great garden and serves really nice food. The steak, in particular, was very good.
Where to Stay in Segou
It was a bit hard to gauge the hotel business in town when I was there due to the conflict. Some hotels were closed and others offering incredible prices. I’m not sure when Mali will recover fully, but until then I can imagine deals can be had at just about every hotel in Segou for quite some time.
- L’Auberge: This is where I stayed. The prices are indicated as 25,000CFA a night, but I got a room for 15,000CFA without much of an argument. There is good wifi and a swimming pool in the garden.
- Hotel Badala: This is a good budget option. You can get a room for about 10,000CFA of plop out on a mattress on their roof for about a quarter of that. There is also a pool and included breakfast. The catch is that they are located about a 10-minute walk from downtown.
Getting Out of Town
When I visited, getting anywhere was longer than it “should” be, not due to conflict but road construction.
- Bamako: It’s meant to be a three hour drive, but with the road construction just outside of town it can take about 6 hours. It took me 10 hours to get there thanks to a couple flat tires.
- Djenne: There is actually a direct bus to Djenne every other day. If you head to the bus terminal in town you can book a ticket and they’ll make sure you get on. The bus generally passes through Segou around 10am and gets into Djenne at around 6pm. On days there aren’t direct buses, you can always catch a Mopti or Sevare bound bus, hop off at the Djenne junction and then take a shared taxi the rest of the way.
- Mopti and Sevare: There are constant buses to these two cities from Segou. The trip should take about 6 hours.
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