Dogon Country

Dogon Traditional Masks

Travel to Dogon Country – Remarkable Rock and Villages

Dogon country is cradled by the bend of the Niger River, spreading outward from the Niger’s shores to the heart of the Seno Gondo plain. Thanks to its splendid cliffs, unique architecture, and very rich heritage and culture, Dogon is one of the highlights of any adventure tour to Mali, and indeed one of the highlights of a West African holiday.

Dogon Country stretches 200 km along the Bandiagara escarpment. Known for its cliffs, the area is actually comprised of alternating sandstone and sandy earth plateau, the Seno plain, comprised mainly of sandy earth, and cliffs 250 -1155 metres high. The area is composed of three distinct topographical regions respectively, the plain, the cliffs, and the plateau.

The region is one of the main centres for the Dogon culture, rich in ancient traditions and rituals, art culture and folklore. The village of Sangha is celebrated for its triennial circumcision ceremonies and its rock carvings. Archaeological evidence suggests human occupancy of the cliffs for at least the last 1,000 years, although the Dogons themselves did not arrive until the 15th and 16th centuries.

Traditionally, they consisted of four tribes, the Dyon, Ono, Arou and Domno which migrated from the land of Mandé. The present-day local Dogon population is divided into small village communities, each Dogon member having a village surname shared by every inhabitant. Village communities are divided into the inneomo and innepuru, living men and dead man respectively, which exist in symbiotic union with each other.

In some cases secret languages have developed. Symbolic relationships exist with respect to the environment, such as with the pale fox and jackal, and the development of elaborate masks and head dresses. Semi-domestic crocodiles are kept as sacred protectors of Bandiagara Village and its ancient founder, Nangabanou Tembèly. They are also revered in ritual rain dances.

Travellers to the Dogon region can visit the villages and discover the different types of their buildings. Among them, there is the Male granary, a building with a pointed roof that serves as a storage place for pearl millet and other grains.

The female granary is where women store their personal belongings such as clothes, jewellery, money and some food. Toguna, also called case à palabres, is a building only for men where they can rest, discuss and take important decisions.

For activities, visitors to Dogon Country can trek following the falaise (cliff), hike from one Dogon village to another, or just walk to scenic points.

Travellers will need a 4×4 to get around Dogon Country, or head out on foot with a local guide.

  • Discover the Dogon people’s culture and way of life.
  • Explore Dogon’s unique architecture.
  • Witness the beauty and splendour of the dramatic landscape.

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