Quiet and safe camping in the west of Mali

How to get there

You can find Cool Camp near the huge Manantali Dam in the west of Mali

Manantali is located about 150 k south of Kayes or 150 north-west of Kita or about 300km northwest from Bamako.

GPS coordinaten N13 11.721 W10 26.582..

Route coming from Kayes
Coming from the North, from Kayes near the border with Senegal and Mauretania, follow the new road south of Kayes in the direction of Bafalubé. Arriving there , until the new bridge is finished, (if they ever get started) you will cross the river by small ferry (also possible for trucks).
Currently the prices for the ferry are about 2500 CFA for a car and 4000 CFA for a truck. The captain has a chronic need for money and a big wallet, so make sure you do not pay to much. Usually you should get an official ticket.

If you drive a motorbyke or car you can ask the ferry to drop you at the Bafalubé side, which is the normal way. You then drive south along the river and cross the Railway bridge to continue the road towards Manantali.
If you drive a truck make sure you are dropped on the Manantali side, NOT on the Bafalubé side!. You have to ask this! From there follow the bad track for about 5 km until you reach the railway tracks (might be a problem in rainy season) and follow the new tarmac road towards Manantali (about 80km).

Just before Manantali you will see a toll post (currently, end 2015, not being manned) and a police check. Both no problem, if the police ask you where you are going, just say Cool Camp. If he does not know this (probably because he Just Woke Up) , there is a big sign of Cool Camp on the side of the road 100 meter past the police post.

Pass the village of Manatali until you come to a crossroads, you will see the dam right in front of you. There is a STOP sign, do not forget to stop completely, otherwise you will pay !!
The road to Bamako turns left, but for Cool Camp you turn right. Cross the only bridge across the Baffing river and just after the bridge take the dirt road to your right. Follow it 300 meter and look for the tree with the Cool camp sign on your right. Turn right, after 100 meter turn left onto the cement road towards the camp.

Route coming from Bamako
I am a slow driver. If I leave Bamako at 8 in the morning, I arrive at Cool camp around 3-4 in the afternoon.

Coming from Bamako you drive nothwards direction Kati. The army barracks are located here. Follow the road around Kati instead of through the centre. At the end there is a small roundabout, turn right. Keep following the road and pas the many many trucks parked on the side of the road. You arive first at a police checkpoint, but usually you can just continue since its for trucks. Little later you come to a toll booth, normal cars pay 500cfa, trucks 1000cfa.

Inmediately after the toll booth turn left. This good road will take you to Kita and Keniaba, even all the way to Senegal, apparantly not known by any mapmaker. Its a good tarmac road. Follow this road until Kita, about 180km. Just after the police checkpoint and the tollbooth, you can take the Kita bypass road on your left. But Kita is a nice little town with a cozy market. Also the last place to get fuel or money. There is a (visa) ATM in the centre (BDM bank).

Follow the road westwards. After 40 km you reach the small village of Tambaga. Just before entering this village you turn right onto a dirt road. There is a sign pointing right, direction Manantali.

The dirt road is 100km long and usualy in ok condition, although a bit slow driving. Only at the hight of the rainy season the road might be difficult, sometimes even closed due to trucks getting stuck in the mud and blocking the road.

Ariving in Manantali the road descents steeply. You have a nice view of the big dam and on the other side of the river you will see the only (white) house, that’s the place you’re going. Descent the road carefully and slowly (its narrow and Africans are not used to the steepness) and at the first 4way crossroads go straight, across the bridge. Rights after the bridge turn right onto the gravel road. After 300m turn right, there is a sign on the tree. After 100m turn left onto the paved road, you are arriving at paradise.

coming from Keniaba
The always accurate (NOT!) michelin map shows a direct road from Keniaba (on the border with Senegal) to Manantali, via Koundian. Please be aware that this road is difficult accessible by car and in rainy season not accesible at all due to water crossings.. Unless you are really adventurous ofcourse. Trucks and big rigs have taken this road, but the road is small with brush on the side, it will cost you your paint job. I have known trucks who have driven it, it takes time. But the road is beautifull and if you are not in a hurry and have a good saw, go ahead. I have not yet driven it myself but there are apparently some steep rocky stretches on the Keniaba side.I Hope to drive the road myself soon so I can give you a better idea


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