Breathtaking Cruises

Niger River Cruises

Introduction to Niger River cruises

The Niger is the third longest river in Africa. Starting in south-eastern Guinea and running all the way to Mali and then through Nigeria, it is an impressive 2600 miles long. Cruises on the river have increased in popularity over the years with a number of companies now offering tours. The fantastic trips ashore and the beauty of the area make the Niger River an ideal place to choose when planning your next cruise

Why Choose a Niger River Cruise?

Nothing quite compares to the tranquillity of a Niger River Cruise. The further one travels from the big cities the more one is transported to a by-gone era where life along the river was simpler- fishing, farming, village’s hippos and migratory birds are in abundance along with the occasional caiman and west African river mentee. Although many tourists take cruises between Mopti and Timbuktu, the truly breathtaking cruise is between Gao and Timbuktu. Many travel companies are now recommending Gao-Timbuktu as the best river trip to take to Mali as the river is at its most wide, its most pristine, and its most beautiful.

On a Niger River cruise you will be privileged to stop along the way and visit beautiful and historical Songhai villages, like Bourem (with an old colonial fort), Bamba (a great market), Tondibi (the site of the Songhai defeat at the hands of the Moroccans) before camping under a multitude of stars like you have never seen before. You will hear hippos snorting and splashing in the water at night and you will know that you are experiencing an adventure that few in the world will ever see.

Types of Cruises

For those preferring a little more comfort, the Mali government operates a large ferry complete with rooms and meals that runs between Gao and Koulikoro approximately from mid-September until mid- January, based on the rainy season and river depth. Although if you prefer dramatically less comfort or are travelling on a tight budget, public Pinasse transport can be taken between Gao and Timbuktu- although it is important to note that these boats obviously do not stop for sight-seeing excursions. The price of the trip varies but it is negotiable.

Cruise Operators

A cruise to the Niger River can be either fully booked through tour operators, such as point Afrique, from the comfort of your home or arranged in either Timbuktu or Gao with a guide or by just going to the port and looking around.

River Transport and Dredging

In September 2009 Nigeria commenced a vast operation to dredge and remove silt from large areas of the River Niger. Costing $233 million the plan is aimed to enable boats to travel to more remote areas along the river. Although activists have said the dredging has a chance of causing damage to the livelihoods of villages resting along the river, the tourism and new goods routes are expected to increase money entering the country. Flooding is also expected to decrease in the neighboring areas once completed.