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After one more rough half-day ride, we reached the middle region of Mali where a distinct group of people, the Dogon, have lived in relative isolation from the Western and Muslim worlds. The land's aspect turned greener as we approached a sandstone cliff called the Bandiagara escarpment that runs for 120 miles across central Mali. For over 500 years the Dogon people have lived along the cliff walls of the escarpment, using its sheer face as a rallying place for defense. While African empires like the Mali, Ghana, or Songhai rose and fell nearby, the Dogon lived securely in their fortified enclaves high up the escarpment. In this way they never were conquered by a foreign medieval power and their unique culture survived intact.
Most West African visitors want to see a Dogon village. This village, named Bongo, sits on top of the escarpment and is a common starting point for hikers into Dogon country.
We must climb down the escarpment to reach more villages at its base.
Many caves in the cliff face are used for shelters or burial grounds. No bones in this cave.
Since only the goats sleep outside on the ground, the local villagers allowed us to sleep on their roof.
No electricity so no chance to read in bed. At least fewer mosquitos flew up to bother us on the roof top. We awoke to the sounds of women pounding millet to make breakfast.