|Still current at: 07 January 2011
Updated: 10 December 2010
This advice has been reviewed and reissued without amendment. The overall level of the advice has not changed; we advise against all travel to some areas of Mali.
(see travel advice legal disclaimer)
To see an enlarged version of this map click here [PDF, 558KB].
Safety and Security - Terrorism
There is a high threat from terrorism. Terrorists have been involved in kidnaps in the region and we believe that further kidnap attacks are likely. Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQ-M) operates directly or through criminal gangs who carry out kidnappings on their behalf or pass on their kidnap victims for monetary gain, AQ-M holds hostages in the Malian desert and has murdered two hostages, including a British national. Recent kidnaps in or close to Mali include:
There have been reports of kidnap threats against westerners attending festivals in Mali. You should be aware that the "Festival in the Desert", planned for January 2011, has previously taken place in an area of northern Mali to which we currently advise against all travel.
If you are travelling to Mali as part of an organised tour you should confirm with the organisers that they are aware of our Travel Advice and that they can confirm in writing that their travel insurance still applies. You should also be aware that the local governments in the region are also attacked by AQ-M. The security forces in Mali, Niger and Mauritania have all suffered fatalities.
You should be aware that the long-standing policy of the British Government is not to make substantive concessions to hostage takers. The British Government considers that paying ransoms and releasing prisoners increases the risk of further hostage taking.
See our Terrorism Abroad page.
Safety and Security - Crime
There have been incidents of armed banditry, car-jacking, and kidnap in northern Mali. Bandits and smugglers are particularly active across the Mali-Algeria, Mali-Guinea and Mali-Niger borders and constitute a real risk to travellers, especially after dark.
Safety and Security - Local Travel
We advise against all travel to the provinces of Mali north of the River Niger from Mopti. This includes the provinces of Kidal, Gao, Koulikoro (north of Mourdiah), Segou (north of Niono), Tombouctou (including the city of Tombouctou (Timbuktu), Mopti, and areas bordering Mauritania east of Nioro in the Kayes province.
Landmines have been used by groups operating in North and North East Mali.
If you plan to travel to any of the areas of Mali where we advise against travel, you are advised to fly. If travelling overland, it is essential to plan your journey in advance and inform local authorities (police and/or army) before leaving Bamako. A reputable local driver/guide is also recommended. In all cases, travelling after dark should be avoided.
Safety and Security - Local Travel - Road Travel
Road conditions off the main roads are often poor, especially in the rainy season (June to September). Other road users may drive dangerously and follow unsafe practices. You should take particular care and attention when driving in urban centres.
In June 2008, 12 people were killed in one week in accidents on the Bamako-Dakar road (via Kayes). Between 23 September and 8 October 2006, approximately 50 people died in road accidents on RN7 (Bamako-Segou-Mopti road).
See our Driving Abroad page.
Safety and Security - Air Travel
Commercial flights between Mali and Europe land at Senou International Airport in Bamako.
For more general information see Airline Security.
Safety and Security - Political Situation
Mali Country Profile
The political situation in most of Mali is calm. There has been a history of ethnic tension in some parts of the country, particularly in the North, but these tensions have reduced in the last year.
Large political rallies and demonstrations are not common in Mali, we recommend that you avoid them.
Local laws reflect the fact that Mali is a Muslim country. You should respect local traditions, customs, laws and religions at all times and be aware of your actions to ensure that they do not offend other cultures or religious beliefs, especially during the holy month of Ramadan or if you intend to visit religious areas. See our Travelling During Ramadan page.
Women are expected to dress modestly. Homosexuality is legal in Mali, but not widely accepted.
See our Your trip page.
Entry Requirements - Visas
British citizens require a visa to enter Mali, obtainable from a Malian Embassy or Consulate. There are Malian Embassies in some neighbouring countries, which issue visas.
Entry Requirements - Yellow Fever vaccination certificate
You must also have a valid international vaccination card with a valid yellow fever immunisation.
Entry Requirements - Travelling with children
Single parents or other adults travelling alone with children should be aware that some countries require documentary evidence of parental responsibility before allowing lone parents to enter the country or, in some cases, before permitting the children to leave the country. For further information on exactly what will be required at immigration please contact the Mali Embassy in Brussels.
Medical facilities in Mali are very limited.
Cholera, malaria and other tropical diseases are common to Mali. Outbreaks of meningitis also occur, usually from the end of February to mid-April. Since mid-March 2007, Malian health services have recorded nearly 400 cases of meningitis with 26 deaths, with the majority of cases occurring in the Sikasso, Koutiala and Bamako regions.
You should drink or use only boiled or bottled water and avoid ice in drinks. If you suffer from diarrhoea during a visit to Mali you should seek immediate medical attention.
In the 2008 Report on the Global AIDS Epidemic the UNAIDS/WHO Working Group estimated that around 93,000 adults aged 15 or over in Mali were living with HIV; the prevalence rate was estimated at around 1.5% of the adult population. This compares to the prevalence rate in adults in the UK of around 0.2%. You should exercise normal precautions to avoid exposure to HIV/AIDS. See our HIV and AIDS page.
You should seek medical advice before travelling to Mali and ensure that all appropriate vaccinations are up-to-date. For further information on vaccination requirements, health outbreaks and general disease protection and prevention you should visit the websites of the National Travel Heath Network and Centre (NaTHNaC) and NHS Scotland's Fit For Travel or call NHS Direct on 0845 46 47.
See our Travel Health and Swine Flu pages.
General - Insurance
We recommend that you obtain comprehensive medical and travel insurance before travelling. This should include cover for medical treatment and evacuation, accidents, cancelled flights and stolen cash, credit cards, passport and luggage. You should check any exclusions, and that your policy covers you for all the activities you want to undertake. See our Travel Insurance page.
If things do go wrong when you are oversees then see our When Things Go Wrong page.
General - Consular assistance
The British Embassy in Bamako offers consular advice and assistance. For passport services, applications should be made to the British Embassy.
General - Registration
British nationals residing in Mali should register at the BELO, as should anyone intending to travel up-country.
Register with our LOCATE service to tell us when and where you are travelling abroad or where you live abroad so our consular and crisis staff can provide better assistance to you in an emergency.
General - Money
Major banks and hotels accept credit cards and travellers cheques.