<p>Photo: The Great Mosque in Djénné</p>

The Great Mosque in Djénné, ancient hub for trans-Saharan caravan routes, was built of mud.

Photograph by Peter Adams/zefa/CORBIS

A storied land of rivers and deserts, sitting astride one of the world’s most historic trading routes, this is a place of unique material and cultural riches, watered by one of the world’s truly great rivers, the Niger. • From the great mud mosque at Djénné to the teeming port town of Mopti to the legendary fastness of Timbuktu, Mali is a place whose history defies imagining. • Peopled for tens of thousands of years, back to a time when the Sahara was a shimmering jade savanna, it’s home to more kinds of wildlife than can be numbered.

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