Administrative capital of the scenic western part of Mali, this town on the Senegal River is a regional trading center. Kayes' three markets offer a variety of goods from Tuareg, Fulani and Moorish traders. The downside is that Kayes is Africa's hottest town, with blistering temperatures of 120 F/49 C and up (March-May) in the shade. If you're traveling between Bamako and Kayes, we recommend that you take the train—the road is in such terrible shape that it is next to impossible to reach the town by vehicle. 250 mi/400 km northwest of Bamako.

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