The Biggest Music Festival in Africa: le Festival au Desert, Mali

February 5, 2010

The festival dates for 2010 are planned for 7-9 January and the venue is Esskane, in the dunes of the Sahara

Le Festival au Desert, the Festival of the Desert, is held annually in the oasis of Essakane, featuring traditional Tuareg and celebrated Malian musicians as well as groups from other West African countries. Essakane is located in the Tombouctou region approximately 65 rugged kilometers from the city of Tombouctou.

Noted musicians in attendance include Tinariwen, the Tuareg group from Tombouctou that gained international notoriety with their performance during the debut of the festival in 2001. Salif Keita, Oumou Sangare, Habib Koite, the late Ali Farka Toure and his son Vieux Farka Toure are just a few of the shinning stars who delight the multi cultural international audience.

The idea for the festival took root in 1996 during a time when 3,000 guns were burned in the “Flame of Peace” to signify the end of fighting between peoples of the region. The idea was to combine the festival with the great traditional gathering of the nomadic Tuareg, or Tamashek people to promote the economy and develop the region. The name Tuareg applies to a Berber ethnic group and originated with the early explorers and historians of the region. The Tuareg call themselves Kel Tamasheq which translates to “Speakers of Tamasheq”. For centuries, traditional gatherings of these nomadic people have been celebrated with song, dance, poetry, ritual sword fighting, games, races and other customary entertainments.

For international visitors, the festival offers a wondrous occasion to be immersed in the world of the desert dwelling Tuareg. The three night festival provides a kaleidoscope of smells, sights and sounds that titillate the senses. Daytime activities include sampling delicious traditional food, shopping for treasures at the craft market, listening to impromptu concerts and participating in social interaction with people from local ethnic groups and visitor from around the globe.

The feature concerts begin in the evening and the impressive high tech sound system fills the starry nights with enchanting, rhythmic melody until the wee hours of the morning.
The Festval Stage
The Festval Stage
The Main Stage at the Festival au Desert
Festival au Desert, Essakane Mali
Festival au Desert, Essakane Mali
Tuaregs Arrive for Festival
Festival au Desert
Festival au Desert
Scene From the Festival
Tuareg Camel Riders at Festival
Tuareg Camel Riders at Festival
Grandstand View Tuareg Style
Camel Riders Feet
Camel Riders Feet
Close Up of a Riders Feet
Tuaregs on Camels
Tuaregs on Camels
Festival au Desert
Decorations on a Camel Saddle
Decorations on a Camel Saddle
Beautiful Tassles Adorn a Camel Saddle
Camels at the Festival
Camels at the Festival
Festival au Desert
Concert Goers
Concert Goers
Enjoying the Concert from the Dunes
Enjoying the Concert from the Dunes
Enjoying the Concert from the Dunes
Festival au Desert
Faces in the Crowd
Faces in the Crowd
These Guys Seem Awed by the Crowd!
Faces at the Festival
Faces at the Festival
Female Tuareg Performers
Local Photographer
Local Photographer
Bedecked in Fashionable Ornaments
A Face in the Crowd
A Face in the Crowd
Female Tuareg Performer
A Face in the Crowd
A Face in the Crowd
A Woman in the Audience
Goods for Sale
Goods for Sale
Leather Bags for Sale in the Market Place
Modes of Transportation
Modes of Transportation
Camels and 4 x 4s
Spectators
Spectators
Some of the People Attending the Festival
Camels
Camels
Camels at the Festival
Tuareg Horse
Tuareg Horse
Horse in the Crowd
Festival au Desert, Essakane Mali
Festival au Desert, Essakane Mali
Tuareg Saddle on Horse at Essakane
Splendid Tuareg Camel Rider
Splendid Tuareg Camel Rider
Festival Attendees Don Their Most Spendid Outfits
Festival au Desert, Essakane Mali
Festival au Desert, Essakane Mali
Tuareg Camel
Festival au Desert, Essakane Mali
Festival au Desert, Essakane Mali
Fulani Musicians
Traditional Tuareg Tent
Traditional Tuareg Tent
Festival Goers Often Stay in Tents of this Style

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Interested in Horseback Riding in Mali?

February 5, 2010

I’ve organized a few photos taken during my recent travels to Mali so that I can share them with those of you who are intetrested in joining me on horseback treks in this culturally rich and delightful country.

The ride currently in the works is in January 2010 and will include the Festival au Desert in Essakane out of Tombouctou. We will ride with the Tuareg and experience their way of life and love of the vast Sahara Dessert.

Other Malian riding destinations include Pays Dogon also known as Dogon Country, and Hamdallaye, the Fulani area.

All rides and tours are arranged with my Malian partner who is a licenced tour operator: Gorel Sidibeh. The Tombouctou portion of our tours are in alliance with Shindouk M. Lamine ould Najim who is the President of the Association of Guides in Tombouctou. Gorel and Shindouk are partners in their company called Sahara Passion.

Please feel free to contact me for details on the Tombouctou ride or with inquiries on additional destinations in Mali at lostinbotswana@yahoo.com.

Meanwhile, enjoy the photos!
Debbie Logan

Gorel Sidibeh can be contacted at gorelsidibeh@yahoo.com

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Sample blog post

February 5, 2010

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Take Me to Your Leaders!

February 5, 2009

A special Thanks and introduction to:

Gorel Sidibeh – Sahara Passion

Partner and Tour Operator Extraordinaire

Shindouk Lamine – Sahara Passion
Our Tombouctou Connection

Gorel Sidibeh
Gorel Sidibeh
Partner & Tour Operator Extraordinaire
Shindouk Lamine
Shindouk Lamine
President of the Guide’s Association, Tombouctou
Shindouk Lamine
Shindouk Lamine
With Part of His Extended Family
Thanks & Photo Credits
A brief thank you to Sue Wehner, Stephanie Van Reigersberg and Patricia Hills for their participation as “crash test dummies” for our 2009 Pays Dogon ride. Sue and Steph, thanks so much for your wonderful photo contributions!

Sue Wehner
Sue Wehner
Friend and Photo Contributor
Stephanie Van Reigersberg
Stephanie Van Reigersberg
With Abdoulaye the Excellent Guide in Djenne
Patricia Hills
Patricia Hills
With Uru the Dogon Horseman
Oumar: The Horseman of Tombouctou
We are fortunate to have been introduced to Oumar in-Dahoye el Arawanie who is a horseman of note, through Shindouk. It is unusual to find a horseman with Oumars talents among the Tuareg in the Tombouctou region, as the camel is the usual Tuareg preference. Ourmar has a passion for horses shared by serious horsemen world wide.
Oumar in-Dahoye el Arawanie
Oumar in-Dahoye el Arawanie
Oumar and a Stallion He Has Trained
Oumar
Oumar
In the Dunes Outside of Tombouctou
Horse of the Desert
Horse of the Desert
Oumar Gallops Through the Sands of the Sahara
Traditional Tuareg Bridle
Traditional Tuareg Bridle
Close Up of Bridle onOumar’s Horse

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Wednesday, August 23rd, 2017