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Mali - Exercise a high degree of caution
There is no nationwide advisory in effect for Mali, including Bamako. However, you should exercise a high degree of caution due to the threat of terrorism, banditry and kidnapping.
Regional Advisory for northern Mali
Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada advises against all travel to the northern Mali regions of Tombouctou, Kidal, Gao and Mopti (north of the town of Mopti), due to political instability and ongoing military clashes, as well as the threat of terrorism, banditry and kidnapping.
Regional Advisory for areas along the border with Mauritania in western Mali
Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada advises against all travel to areas along the border with Mauritania in western Mali due to incursions across the border by criminals.
The decision to travel is your responsibility. You are also responsible for your personal safety abroad. The Government of Canada takes the safety and security of Canadians abroad very seriously and provides credible and timely information in its Travel Advice. In the event of a crisis situation that requires evacuation, the Government of Canada’s policy is to provide safe transportation to the closest safe location. The Government of Canada will assist you in leaving a country or a region as a last resort, when all means of commercial or personal transportation have been exhausted. This service is provided on a cost-recovery basis. Onward travel is at your personal expense. Situations vary from one location to another, and there may be constraints on government resources that will limit the ability of the Government of Canada to provide assistance, particularly in countries or regions where the potential for violent conflict or political instability is high.
Northern Mali (see advisory)
Armed rebels captured the northern regions of Gao, Tombouktou and Kidal in the spring of 2012. MINUSMA, the United Nations peacekeeping mission in Mali, has been supporting authorities in stabilizing the region. While most of the Malian territory has been liberated, military clashes with armed rebels continue to occur in the northern regions.
The risk of kidnapping is high throughout Mali, especially in the northern provinces and in border areas.
There is a very high risk of kidnapping in northern Mali, and Westerners are a preferred target. In past instances, some hostages have been detained for months before being released, and some have been killed. Most recently, a Red Cross team was kidnapped between the towns of Kidal and Gao in February 2014. In November 2013, two French journalists were kidnapped in the town of Kidal and subsequently killed.
Use varied and unpredictable routes and schedules when moving from one place to another, exercise particular caution when travelling on highways, even in daylight hours, and avoid border areas.
MINUSMA, the United Nations peacekeeping mission in Mali, has been supporting authorities in stabilizing the situation in the northern regions. Terrorist groups in the region declared their intention to increase attacks and kidnappings targeting Westerners. Targets could include government buildings, public areas, tourist sites and Western interests. Citizens of countries supporting the military intervention are at particular risk, but all travellers should exercise increased vigilance.
The presence of terrorists is reported in the northern regions of Mali and along the Mauritanian border.
Screening measures are in place at entry points in an attempt to contain the Ebola outbreak.
Demonstrations may occur and have the potential to suddenly turn violent. They can lead to significant disruptions to traffic and public transportation. Canadians are advised to avoid all demonstrations and large gatherings, follow the advice of local authorities and monitor local media.
Attacks by armed highway robbers (known as “coupeurs de route”) have taken place. Attacks can occur both during the day and at night. If you are considering travelling by road you should plan your journey carefully and take security precautions.
Carjackings occur throughout Mali, especially in the North.
Petty crime occurs. Panhandlers are common. Be careful of scam artists at the Bamako airport. Tourists should travel in groups, remain alert, ensure their personal belongings and travel documents are secure, and avoid poorly lit areas after dark.
Corruption is prevalent. Police may stop motorists and request payments for unknown reasons.
Food products are sometimes sold past their expiry date. Higher prices may be charged for merchandise bought in markets.
Cases of attempted fraud are frequently reported in Mali. See our Overseas Fraud page for more information on scams abroad.
Women may be subject to certain forms of harassment and verbal abuse. Consult our publication entitled Her Own Way: A Woman’s Safe-Travel Guide for travel safety information specifically aimed at Canadian women.
Exercise extreme caution when driving. Road conditions off major roads are poor. Driving standards, lack of traffic signals, excessive speed, pedestrians and livestock on roadways, traffic congestion, the absence of sidewalks and poorly lit streets all pose serious risks. Overloaded transport vehicles often break down and cause accidents. Many vehicles lack lights. Roadside assistance is not available. Avoid driving at night.
During the rainy season, some dirt roads may be impassable without a four-wheel-drive vehicle. Vehicles should be equipped with spare tires and an emergency kit. Keep informed of regional weather forecasts and plan accordingly.
Public transportation is unreliable in the capital. Determine taxi fares before departure.
See Transportation Safety in order to verify if national airlines meet safety standards.
General safety information
Remain extremely vigilant, follow the political and social developments carefully, register with the Embassy of Canada in Bamako and follow messages issued through the Registration of Canadians Abroad (ROCA) service. If the security situation in Mali deteriorates, the availability of consular services at the Embassy of Canada may be limited.
It is the sole prerogative of each country or region to determine who is allowed to enter. Canadian consular officials cannot intervene on your behalf if you do not meet entry requirements. The following information on entry and exit requirements has been obtained from the Malian authorities. However, these requirements are subject to change at any time. It is your responsibility to check with the Embassy of the Republic of Mali or one of its consulates for up-to-date information.
Official (special and diplomatic) passport holders must consult the Official Travel page, as they may be subject to different entry requirements.
Canadians must present a passport to visit Mali, which must be valid for at least six months beyond the date of expected departure from that country. Prior to travelling, ask your transportation company about its requirements related to passport validity, which may be more stringent than the country's entry rules.
Canadians must be in possession of a visa to visit Mali.
Tourist visa: Required
Business visa: Required
Student visa: Required
Children and travel
Children need special documentation to visit certain countries. See Children for more information.
See Health to obtain information on this country’s vaccination requirements.
Be sure that your routine vaccines are up-to-date regardless of your travel destination.
Vaccines to Consider
You may be at risk for these vaccine-preventable diseases while travelling in this country. Talk to your travel health provider about which ones are right for you.
Hepatitis A is a disease of the liver spread through contaminated food and water or contact with an infected person. All those travelling to regions with a risk of hepatitis A infection should get vaccinated.
Hepatitis B is a disease of the liver spread through blood or other bodily fluids. Travellers who may be exposed (e.g., through sexual contact, medical treatment, sharing needles, tattooing, acupuncture or occupational exposure) should get vaccinated.
Seasonal influenza occurs worldwide. The flu season usually runs from November to April in the northern hemisphere, between April and October in the southern hemisphere and year round in the tropics. Influenza (flu) is caused by a virus spread from person to person when they cough or sneeze or by touching objects and surfaces that have been contaminated with the virus. Get the flu shot.
Measles is a highly contagious viral disease and is common in most parts of the world. Be sure your measles vaccination is up-to-date regardless of your travel destination.
This country is in the African Meningitis Belt, an area where there are many cases of meningococcal disease. Meningococcal disease is a serious and sometimes fatal infection. Travellers who may be at high risk should consider getting vaccinated. High-risk travellers include those living or working with the local population (e.g., health care workers) or those travelling to crowded areas or taking part in large gatherings.
Rabies is a deadly illness spread to humans through a bite, scratch or lick from an infected animal. Vaccination should be considered for travellers going to areas where rabies exists and who have a high risk of exposure (i.e., close contact with animals, occupational risk, and children).
Yellow Fever Vaccination
Yellow fever is a disease caused by a flavivirus from the bite of an infected mosquito.
Travellers get vaccinated either because it is required to enter a country or because it is recommended for their protection.
|* It is important to note that country entry requirements may not reflect your risk of yellow fever at your destination. It is recommended that you contact the nearest diplomatic or consular office of the destination(s) you will be visiting to verify any additional entry requirements.|
|Country Entry Requirement*|
Food and Water-borne Diseases
Travellers to any destination in the world can develop travellers' diarrhea from consuming contaminated water or food.
In some areas in West Africa, food and water can also carry diseases like cholera, hepatitis A, schistosomiasis and typhoid. Practise safe food and water precautions while travelling in West Africa. Remember: Boil it, cook it, peel it, or leave it!
Cholera is a bacterial disease that is most often spread by drinking water or eating food that has been contaminated. It causes diarrhea and in severe cases it can lead to dehydration and even death.
Most travellers are at very low risk. Travellers at higher risk include those visiting, working or living in areas with limited access to safe food, water and proper sanitation, or to areas where outbreaks are occurring. Travellers at higher risk should discuss with a health care provider the benefits of getting vaccinated.
Schistosomiasis can be spread to humans through freshwater sources contaminated by blood flukes (tiny worms). The eggs of the worms can cause stomach illnesses like diarrhea and cramps or urinary problems. Risk is generally low for most travellers. Avoid swimming in freshwater sources (lakes, rivers, ponds). There is no vaccine available for schistosomiasis.
- Travellers' diarrhea is the most common illness affecting travellers. It is spread from eating or drinking contaminated food or water.
- Risk of developing travellers' diarrhea increases when travelling in regions with poor standards of hygiene and sanitation. Practise safe food and water precautions.
- The most important treatment for travellers' diarrhea is rehydration (drinking lots of fluids). Carry oral rehydration salts when travelling.
Typhoid is a bacterial infection spread by contaminated food or water. Risk is higher among pediatric travellers, travellers going to rural areas, visiting friends and relatives or travelling for a long period of time. Travellers at high risk visiting regions with typhoid risk, especially those exposed to places with poor sanitation should speak to a health care provider about vaccination.
Insects and Illness
In some areas in West Africa, certain insects carry and spread diseases like African trypanosomiasis (sleeping sickness), chikungunya, Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever, dengue fever, leishmaniasis, lymphatic filariasis, malaria, onchocerciasis, Rift Valley fever, West Nile virus and yellow fever.
Travellers are advised to take precautions against bites.
- Dengue fever occurs in this country. Dengue fever is a viral disease that can cause severe flu-like symptoms. In some cases it leads to dengue haemorrhagic fever, which can be fatal.
- The risk of dengue is higher during the daytime, particularly at sunrise and sunset.
- Protect yourself from mosquito bites. There is no vaccine or medication that protects against dengue fever.
- There is a risk of malaria throughout the year in the whole country.
- Malaria is a serious and occasionally fatal disease that is spread by the bite of an infected mosquito. There is no vaccine against malaria.
- Protect yourself from mosquito bites. This includes covering up, using insect repellent and staying in enclosed air-conditioned accommodations. You may also consider pre-treating clothing and travel gear with insecticides and sleeping under an insecticide-treated bednet.
- See a health care provider or visit a travel health clinic, preferably six weeks before you travel to discuss the benefits of taking antimalarial medication and to determine which one to take.
Animals and Illness
Travellers are cautioned to avoid contact with animals, including dogs, monkeys, snakes, rodents, birds, and bats. Certain infections found in some areas in West Africa, like avian influenza and rabies, can be shared between humans and animals.
HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) is a virus that attacks and impairs the immune system, resulting in a chronic, progressive illness known as AIDS (Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome).
High risk activities include anything which puts you in contact with blood or body fluids, such as unprotected sex and exposure to unsterilized needles for medications or other substances (for example, steroids and drugs), tattooing, body-piercing or acupuncture.
Tuberculosis is an infection caused by bacteria and usually affects the lungs.
For most travellers the risk of tuberculosis is low.
Travellers who may be at high risk while travelling in regions with risk of tuberculosis should discuss pre- and post-travel options with a health care provider.
High-risk travellers include those visiting or working in prisons, refugee camps, homeless shelters, or hospitals, or travellers visiting friends and relatives.
Medical services and facilities
Medical facilities are limited, especially outside of Bamako. Medical services usually require immediate cash payment.
Keep in Mind...
The decision to travel is the sole responsibility of the traveller. The traveller is also responsible for his or her own personal safety.
Be prepared. Do not expect medical services to be the same as in Canada. Pack a travel health kit, especially if you will be travelling away from major city centres.
Laws & culture
Laws & culture
You are subject to local laws. See Arrest and detention for more information.
An international driving permit is recommended.
Illegal or restricted activities
Penalties for possession, use or trafficking of illegal drugs are strict. Convicted offenders can expect jail sentences and heavy fines.
Although homosexual activity is not a criminal offence, it may be considered contrary to accepted standards of behaviour and persons may face sanctions.
Photography of military personnel and installations is prohibited. Cultural and religious factors influence the interpretation of what subjects may be photographed. Ask permission before taking photographs.
Dress and behaviour
Mali’s customs, laws and regulations closely adhere to Islamic practices. Dress conservatively, behave discreetly, and respect religious and social traditions to avoid offending local sensitivities.
The Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property, to which Mali is signatory, restricts the export of certain Malian archaeological objects, particularly those from the Niger River Valley. Under Malian law, visitors seeking to export such items require an export authorization from the National Museum in Bamako.
The currency is the African Financial Community franc, or CFA franc (XOF). Credit cards are rarely accepted outside a few major hotels. Carry traveller’s cheques in euros or U.S. dollars. Traveller’s cheques may be exchanged at major hotels and in banks. Canadian traveller’s cheques are not widely accepted. Banks do not exchange traveller’s cheques on Saturday or Sunday. The Central Bank of West African States (BCEAO) has a foreign exchange bureau close to the Grand Hôtel on Koulikoro Road in Bamako. Exchange facilities are often slow and offer rates that are out of date.
Access to automated banking machines is limited outside of Bamako.
Natural disasters & climate
Natural disasters & climate
There are three main seasons in Mali. The rainy season extends from June to October. Local flooding can occur during the rainy season. The dry, cool season extends from November to February. Temperatures can drop to 15°C in January (in the evening). A dry, hot season extends from March to June, with temperatures reaching 45°C.
Dust storms and sand storms are frequent.
Bamako - Embassy of Canada
For emergency assistance after hours, call the Embassy of Canada in Bamako and follow the instructions. You can also make a call to the Emergency Watch and Response Centre in Ottawa at 613-996-8885.
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