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A Comprehensive Guide about Living in Bamako

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  • Matthew Brown

    As a development aid worker I am mostly busy near Timbouctou and Gao. InterNations helped me to exchange ideas with other development agencies.

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Life in Bamako

Living in Bamako is a unique experience to be treasured and enjoyed. If you know what to expect before you arrive at the bustling Bamako-Senou airport, you will fall in love with this laidback, magical city.

Transportation in Bamako

There’s no getting around it — you’re going to need access to a vehicle when you are living and working in Bamako. This is a large, sprawling city which can be difficult to navigate on foot.

Luckily, cars, motorbikes and gas are all cheap and readily available in the city, so owning a vehicle is an affordable luxury.

Green vans are the city’s equivalent of public transport in the city, although they are referred to as “sotrama” (literally “taxi van”) and not buses by the locals. For a few coins, these vans will pick you up and drop you off at any given location. These taxis are usually packed to capacity and on hot days, they can be stifling. Bring a bottle of water with you, and be prepared to shout to the driver when your stop is approaching.

Culture and Leisure

Bamako has a long and lively musical tradition, and Mali has produced some of the world’s most celebrated musicians, including Ali Farka Toure, Tinariwen, Amadou et Miriam and, of course, Salif Keita. Blur frontman Damon Albarn is a regular fixture in the city, performing spontaneous gigs with local artists in some of the city’s tiny venues, cafés and festivals.

For some insight into Mali’s cultural history, the National Museum is a good starting point. It is still quite sparsely furnished, but contains a few truly fascinating ancient relics dating back several thousand years. Some other interesting cultural landmarks are the National Library of Mali and the Bamako Grand Mosque.

Safety and Security

Poverty and homelessness are rife in Bamako, and some expats can find this shocking. Mali is one of the poorest countries in the world, with limited public services and sporadic healthcare. As a result, many curable illnesses and injuries are left untended, and sufferers are forced to beg for a living. Expats are invariably targeted, but discretion is highly advised. As with most cities, gangs operate here so your well-meaning donations may not necessarily make it into the right hands.

Despite this poverty, Bamako is a relatively safe city which will quickly feel like home. While you are settling in, it is best to hire a driver or ask a local friend to show you around, and expats are advised to stay indoors at night.

Keep an eye on the local news for any signs of governmental instability or nearby coups — these can result in some civil unrest and an influx of refugees.

Jul 15, 2023, 7:00 PM
31 attendees
Bring Your Flag and share every unique culture with each other
Jul 30, 2022, 5:00 PM
21 attendees
InterNations Mindeness at Hotel Lamitie Bamako with artist. Give a chance to network and give expats the opportunity to see the performance of local based musicians such as Alous Sam and Salif Keita
Jun 27, 2021, 9:00 PM
125 attendees
Let us explore best of local music. Each attendee is expected to share his or her favorite local song. We will listen to it together for about 1 mins. Experiencing New Music is a way to keep in touc
May 16, 2021, 4:00 PM
18 attendees
Please come and have brunch next Sunday. At an affordable price of 12.500 FCfa including the swimming pool and buffet. Cassablanca Installée à Bamako et offrant une vue sur le jardin, la Residence La

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Our Global Partners

  • Matthew Brown

    As a development aid worker I am mostly busy near Timbouctou and Gao. InterNations helped me to exchange ideas with other development agencies.

  • Rikke Johansen

    A friend recommended InterNations for my relocation to Mali. Glad I joined -- settling in Bamako was much easier with the help of fellow expats.

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