Posted by: Dudley | January 29, 2009

Return from Timbuctou

All in all a fantastic trip, with wonderful music at the  Festival at Essakane, a beautiful float down the Niger River, learning about the incredible traditional culture of the Dogon and the ancient Tellem people, and visits to ancient mud mosques and makers of mud cloth (bogolan). Not that there weren’t some trying times and unexpected twists – suffice it to say that I learned a lot from this year’s trip and it will all go into making next year’s Festival trip (and other Mali tours) even better.

One of the things we’ll be working on with our partners in Mali is establishing a more direct relationship with the communities we visit along the Niger River and in Dogon land. We’ll be holding meetings with village leaders to find out what their needs are and how we can help them work toward meeting community goals. We’ll also be working with them on issues such as hygiene, diet, safe water, and participating in good ecologically and culturally sustainable tourism practices.

Another thing we’ll be doing differently on future trips is to allow more time at the beginning of the tour for resting from the long flight, changing money, acclimatizing,  and just generally getting our feet on the ground and at the end of the trip for last minute craft shopping, organizing, and resting up for the long flight home. We’ll also try to break up each day’s travel with more opportunities for photos and visiting points of interest.  Very importantly, we’re going to be giving much more detailed information on each day’s activities, including lodging and the level of difficulty of any hiking or trekking (climbing…?) involved.

So – that”s what we (I) learned toward improving future trips, but what may be more important to anyone reading this blog is the fact that this was a wonderful trip to an amazing part of the world. The  Malian people are gracious and welcoming, curious and friendly, full of smiles and good cheer. Sometimes in the more touristed areas there is a little too much pressure to buy or give, but we found that, if you take the time to ask questions and show an interest in the local peoples’  lives and in sharing your own,  invariably the interaction became personal and fun. We try here at DreamWeaver to allow as much time as possible during our trips for these sorts of personal interactions between cultures.  We believe that, after all, that’s what travel is all about.

Stay tuned to this blog and to our website for some great new trips to Gabon, Central African Republic, Mali, Venezuela, and Bolivia.

“Be the Change You Wish To See in the World”



  1. I am looking for a Dudley Parkenson who used to build Custom Log Homes in Minn & Wisc.

    Worked with him on a project in River Falls, Wisc, mid 80’s.

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