Updated March 2018
The desert remains a war zone but attacks and IEDs have spread south and west as far as Segou.
Mali is less safe than it used to be but can be crossed with vigilance south of Segou.
Price of fuel
Diesel from around 585 CFA/litre – more in remote towns. Petrol is 695 CFA.
More than you think.
Needed by all except French. You can just turn up and get the “laissez passer” at some borders for 15.000 CFA (~€20) which gives you a week to get a proper visa in Bamako free of charge. You need to fill in a form and have 2 photos for up to 3 months, single-entry. This has been the case for many years although you do hear of it backfiring occasionally, possibly merely due to border officials trying it on. See this.
No consulate in UK – nearest are 487 ave. Moliere, Bruxelles or Consulat du Mali 64 rue Pelleport, 75020 Paris, 75020, Paris. Download visa forms below. It can take up to 2-3 days from when they get it. Useful visa agency in NL (was up to half the price of Brit agencies)
The Mali consulate in Rabat (Morocco).
7, Rue Thami Lamdaouar
GPS N33 58.7′ W06 50.0′
a few doors down from the Mauritanian embassy
€60, 1 hour
There is also a Mali consulate in Nouakchott
Ave de Palais des Congres
Two photos and photo copy of passport, 6500UM. Visas issued in as little as an hour.
And a consulate in Tamanrasset, Algeria, next to the Niger consulate, High Street south end (look for the flag as on the top of this page). Here they issue a 5-day pass in a day or so, but that route to Mali visa Tessalit is closed.
From Mauritania – the way most people arrive overland these days – you can pick up a Mali visa in Rabat (see above) or Nouakchott while you wait for 6500 oogs for 1 month (8000 for double entry and 10,000 for 2 months double entry. Two photos required).
Buy laissez-passer (local ‘carnet’) and insurance (both cover the whole CFA currency zone).
Even in the good years exploring the Sahara north of Timbuktu was never Mali’s highlight and now there’s no chance. This includes the 1000-mile trans-Saharan Tanezrouft piste, leading up to Reggane in Algeria. Right now it’s a bad idea to go east of Nara or north of Segou and San.