Djenne market
The mosque and Monday market in Djenne, arguably the most iconic site in West Africa.  The largest mud building in the world can't be entered by non-muslims, without paying a bribe to the guardian at least.

Djenne market

Djenne market

Djenne market boy
Djenne is filled with muslim religious schools, their students sent by parents to do little more than memorize verses from the Quran in an arabic language that they do not understand.  These kids are not fed by the madrassahs, and depend on begging with their little plastic pails to earn their daily feed.  This boy seems in fine spirits, but many of these kids are relentless, and amongst the most aggravating people you'll meet anywhere in the world.

Fula trader Djenne
Of the many ethnicities who constitute the patchwork of peoples in the Sahel region (flanking the southern edge of the Sahara desert), the most vividly dressed are the Fula (Peul) women, with their telltale ear rings, nose rings and brightly coloured outfits.

Djenne market wagon
End of the market day.  Time to head back to the village with our weekly haul of goods!

Djenne ferry
I've got to say, I've never seen this anywhere else in the world (a feeling which happens often in Mali).  This car ferry linking Djenne with the main highway may be powered by a diesel engine, but the steering is done by a guy pushing a pole at the front of the boat.

Djenne ferry horse
And its competition is a guy driving a horse through the river. 

The Niger River port city of Mopti, with its famous Komoguel mosque in the background.  This is the base city to start cruises down the Niger River to Timbuktu.  I preferred however to go to Timbuktu by  LandCruiser, which takes 8 hours, unlike the 6 days it takes by boat in the dry season (though they'll lie and say it takes 3 days).

Sidi Yahiya madrassah
One of the side doors to the Sidi Yahiya madrassah, one of the three major religious buildings in the dusty city of Timbuktu.  Most travellers are disappointed by Timbuktu after the pains they took to get there, but I sort of liked the fact that it was a city built on sand.  The roads are sand.  The front yards of houses are sand.  Some of the food tastes like sand.  If you took away all of the manmade stuff from Timbuktu, you'd be left with a desert.  Camel traders ride their beasts in from the desert and trade them in one of the main squares of town.

Sankore mosque Timbuktu
The Sankore mosque in Timbuktu.  The white skies you see here, and in much of the Sahel in the dry season, are due to the Harmattan wind kicking up sand and dust into the air.