Plate With A View: Mande Hotel, Bamako, Mali

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The Independent Travel

Michael Palin said that the bacon, eggs and coffee served at the Mande Hotel provided him with his best breakfast during his 100-day trip across the Sahara.

THE PLATE

Michael Palin said that the bacon, eggs and coffee served at the Mande Hotel provided him with his best breakfast during his 100-day trip across the Sahara. This could have been just the relief of leaving the train after a much-delayed and cramped two-day journey from Dakar. But even after a midnight-flight from Timbuktu, my simple spread of eggs, French bread and coffee tasted mighty fine. And dinner, a more elaborate affair with local offerings such as saga saga (beef with spinach sauce) or poulet yassa (chicken with a hot onion sauce), made a welcome change from the fatty goat stews, couscous and riz au gras that I had lived on for the previous week. Alternatively, try the filet de capitaine, the Nile perch that is so ubiquitous on West African menus.

THE VIEW

Stunning. The hotel, owned by Salif Keita (the footballer, not the musician) sits away from the city centre at the edge of the Niger River, with its restaurant jutting out on stilts above the water. In the morning, you can watch the hotel laundry done on the rocks below while you sip your coffee; in the evening, as the sun sets, the fishermen are still out throwing nets from their pirogues. Hippos are said to prowl the river bottom, although this does not seem to deter people from jumping in. To make this an even more perfect setting, there is occasionally live music laid on.

THE BILL

A meal for two, with drinks, would come to about CFA25,000 (£25).

Mande Hotel, Cite du Niger, Bamako. (00 223 221 1995)

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