Difference between revisions of "Dogon Country"
Revision as of 12:10, 26 December 2009
Dogon Country (French: Pays Dogon) is the name used for a region of south-central Mali renowned for its secluded villages embedded on cliffs and for the region's distinct culture. Most visitors to Dogon country will start and in one of the couple of major towns connected by roads and trek to smaller villages.
The local Dogon language is spoken by everyone, but due to its popularity with tourists French remains the lingua franca. English is spoken by only a handful of tour guides in the entire region and practically no one outside the handful of cosmopolitan (relatively speaking) base camps/towns. A working knowledge of French is essential unless travelling with one of the few guides who speak English.
There are almost no roads in the region, except those connecting a couple of towns used as base camps with the neighboring regions.
There are hundreds of unique towns scattered throughout the region and while all are unique and, while there is no "typical" Dogon village, most can be found built into the sides of hills and escarpments.
Trek to the small villages.
Sadly, many (but not all) of the villages have learned the value of tourism and while the culture remains strong and the villages remain spectacular, expect to pay for everything from entering each village to photographing anything inside villages to meeting certain people (i.e. chiefs). Most villages will sell arts and crafts to tourists.
Towns will generally sell small quantities of food to tourists, but there are no restaurants outside the couple of major base towns. You will likely be sharing a meal with a family. You should bring food with you to eat.
Water is a scarce commodity (do NOT expect to use water for bathing or hand washing) and you should bring some with you, especially to prevent dehydration while trekking between villages.
There is no alcohol to be found outside of the couple of base towns.
Dogons are very spiritual and visitors should be VERY keen to respect their beliefs. One should ALWAYS ask if it is appropriate to photograph something. Altars may look like piles of dirt to the untrained eye and religious buildings may look like just a house, both of which (along with people, unless you ask permission) should NOT be photographed.
If trekking, you should be in good physical shape and carry and drink lots of water to prevent dehydration. Also, be careful of snakes in brush (although most are nocturnal).