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“RING OF FIRE EXPEDITIONS” presents:
ECLIPSE OF A 2.7 MAGNITUDE STAR FROM MALI, WEST AFRICA
SEPTEMBER 9-17, 2012
COUNTRIES TO BE VISITED: MALI AND BURKINA FASO
This is a “land only” tour starting and ending in Bamako, Mali. Features:
- star eclipse observation
- visit Timbuktu
- camel ride to Touareg camp
- Niger river cruise
- nearly all meals
- 3 bottles of mineral water each day
- a maximum of 4 persons per air-conditioned vehicle
SPECIAL NOTE FOR US CITIZENS: If you itemize your federal income taxes, there *may be* an opportunity to deduct a portion of the trip. The science aspect is being conducted under the auspices of the International Occultation Timing Association, a 501.c.3 organization under the US Federal Tax Code. As such that portion of the land tour (3 days) + the round trip airfare is potentially deductible if you join IOTA and participate under its direction in video taping the star eclipse. Contact expedition organizer Paul Maley at email@example.com to discuss this further.
This is a unique opportunity to travel to two rarely visited countries and see a brief eclipse of a naked eye star caused by the main belt asteroid known as 363 Padua. This the brightest star in the sky expected to be eclipsed by an asteroid (as seen from Earth in a dark sky) during all of 2012. Observations of the eclipse will be used to help more completely define the shape and size of Padua which should pass directly in front of the 2.7 magnitude star called Zuben-el-genubi (Arabic for “Southern Claw of the Scorpion”) less than 2 hours after local sunset. This star is also called Alpha Libra by astronomers and can be seen in clear dark skies which is nearly as bright as Polaris (the North Star). Although eclipse observation sites will be pre-determined, we reserve the right to modify the locations in real time in order to attempt to maximize the chance of successful eclipse observation due to local weather changes. Mid September is at the end of the rainy season but it is possible to get decent sky conditions after sunset. Also, locations in the US are in daylight making west Africa the only region where this eclipse can be seen.
This tour will be organized and led by Paul D. Maley of the NASA Johnson Space Center Astronomical Society, a veteran of more than 132 successful eclipses of stars by asteroids.
BASIC TOUR ITINERARY
as of OCTOBER 4, 2011
(Some modifications may occur due to routing and schedule changes in the region prior to the time of the tour. Prices are Euro-based and are those in effect as of the date above; they may change due to currency fluctuations, fuel surcharges for ground transport caused by escalating oil prices or increases mandated by ground operators. RING OF FIRE EXPEDITIONS does its best to keep prices in line as far in advance as possible. Trip cancellation insurance is highly recommended just in case you or a companion becomes ill or is forced by circumstance to miss the tour.)
September 9 (Sunday): Arrive Bamako, Mali
International flight (optional cost!) arrives in Bamako in the evening; airport-to-hotel transfer. Bamako, the capital of Mali, is devoid of high-rises and hip-hop shopping plazas. Traditional it is, and famed for its ethnic, lively people and markets – the main attractions of Bamako tourism. You can expect to be told the tale behind the mask you’ve bought and you might find that the friendly shopkeeper is also the carver! The tall man standing beside you in indigo robes with his warrior-like demeanor is from the Tuareg tribe – he’s been a sentinel of the desert for centuries.
Mali is the jewel in the crown of west Africa, a destination that has all the right ingredients. The country occupies the heart of a territory that once supported Africas greatest empires and is rich with historical resonance. This history bequeathed to Mali some of its most dramatic attractions: the legendary city of Timbuktu (Tombouctou), whose name has never lost its allure for travellers, the gloriously improbable mosque at Djenne and the bustling river port of Mopti are simply three among many.
September 10 (Monday): Bamako to Segou (235 km; ~3hrs)\
Begin your discovery journey through Mali: after breakfast, drive to and visit Segou, Mali’s former colonial capital. Check into the hotel and then have lunch. About 235 km east from Bamako, Segou is one of the larger, more important cities in Mali. Located on the Niger River, Segou has the potential for economic importance. It was the capital for French occupation, the location for the Office du Niger. This project sought to provide France with raw materials such as cotton. Although a dam was built, the canals (which were dug by forced labor) were never finished. Cotton was abandoned, with rice and sugarcane being planted in its stead. Excursion to Sekoro village.
Following the visit we will drive along the road north of Segou to see potential observations sites for the star eclipse. Discussion of roles and responsibilities for each team of observers.
The expected observation sites will be located between the two blue lines of this map. Prediction will be updated later in 2012.
Overnight Segou (Hotel Independence or similar). (B, L, D)
September 11 (Tuesday): Segou to Djenne (330 km; ~4hrs) to Mopti / Niger River (130 km; ~1.5 hr)
Drive to Djenne, ancient sister-city of Timbuktu; see the magnificent Great Mosque, the world’s largest mud brick architecture (originally constructed in the XIIIth century), one of Unesco’s World Heritage sites; onward to Mopti for city tour: Mopti is known as “the Venice of Mali” because it is surrounded by the waters of the Niger and the Bani rivers; see the Komoguel mosque, the fishing port (see pirogues being made by hand), and the bustling market where many of Mali’s ethnic groups come to trade: Bambara, Bobo, Bozo, Dogon, Fulani, Tuareg and Songhay; end the day with a relaxing sunset sail on the Niger River; overnight in Mopti (Hotel Kanaga, or similar) (B, L, D).
September 12 (Wednesday): Mopti to Timbuktu (550 km; ~6hrs)
Interesting drive across the Sahel ecosystem, to the legendary city of Timbuktu, gateway to the Sahara Desert. The Sahel is the ecoclimatic and biogeographic zone of transition between the Sahara desert in the North and the Sudanian Savannas in the south. This is also the same area where the precursors to Atlantic hurricanes are born and transition through during the hurricane season. Late afternoon briefing and discussion on the plan for observing the eclipse of Zuben-el-genubi. Evening sky observation and test of video systems by each team (weather permitting). We will also attempt night sky observation on this and other nights if skies are clear. Overnight in Timbuktu (Hotel La Maison).(B, L, D)
September 13 (Thursday): Timbuktu to Sahara Desert
Visit the legendary and historical city of Timbuktu: see the ancient mosques and former universities, the museum and the Ahmed Baba Institute archives of ancient Islamic manuscripts, the explorers’ houses, and the market which receives the azalais, the salt caravans from the desert. At one time salt was literally worth its weight in gold; in the afternoon, depart on your camel caravan into the desert to visit a Tuareg camp on the dunes (Note: due to security concerns we do not go deep into the desert); the Tuareg people are known as the Princes of the desert, or the Blue Men of the desert (for the blue tinge on their skin from their indigo-dyed clothing); overnight (Hotel La Maison).(B, L, D)
September 14 (Friday): Timbuktu to Dogon country (670 km; ~8hrs)
Return drive across the Sahel, all the way to Mali’s fascinating Dogon country; visit the Dogon village of Songo, renowned for its circumcision grotto and rock paintings; traditional circumcision ceremonies are held here every three years, and the rock paintings are historical representations of noble Dogon families; overnight in Bandiagara (Hotel Falaise, or similar).(B, L, D)
September 15 (Saturday): Dogon country to Ouahigouya, Burkina Faso to Dogon country
Drive to the Burkina Faso border, and onward to Ouahigouya; visit Ouahigouya, capital of the old Yatenga kingdom, including the historic Yatenga Naba’s compound (Naba = “King”) and Naba Kango’s tomb. Founded in 1757 it is the most important town in northern Burkina Faso; return to Mali and visit Dogon villages Kani Kombole, Tely and Ende (as time permits); overnight in Bandiagara (Hotel Falaise, or similar).(B, L, D)
September 16 (Sunday): Dogon country to Mopti to Segou; NIGHT OF THE STAR ECLIPSE (525 km; ~6 hrs)
Drive to and visit Mopti, known as “the Venice of Mali” because it is surrounded by the waters of the Niger and the Bani rivers; see the Komoguel mosque, the fishing port (see pirogues being made by hand), and the bustling market where many of Mali’s ethnic groups come to trade: Bambara, Bobo, Bozo, Dogon, Fulani, Tuareg and Songhay
We continue onward toward the city of Segou. This evening is the eclipse of Zubenelgenubi! We will have a briefing to discuss the plans for the observation and deployment.
Depending on where we set up, overnight *may be* in Segou or in another small town. We will have to establish more than one site in order to obtain enough data on the eclipse characteristics, to verify an eclipse has occurred and to time the length of it. By setting up stations perpendicular to the path each site will have a different eclipse duration corresponding to which feature causes it. Sunset is at 6:24pm and the eclipse occurs at 8:11pm with the star locate at an elevation of 22 degrees above the west southwest sky. There will be no moon in the sky and depending on where you are located it is expected that the eclipse could last up to 2.1 seconds. This event could be recordable on camcorders provided they have sufficient zoom and sensitivity level. Time prediction accuracy is expected to be + or – 5 seconds. Rotating about its axis every 4 hours, this approximately 52km diameter body was discovered in 1893 and named after the city of Padua, Italy.
After the eclipse, drive to your hotel (Hotel Independence or similar). The group may be split depending on the logistical issues involved and could stay in different hotels this night only. Overnight in Segou.(B, L, D)
September 17 (Monday): Segou to Bamako (235 km; ~3hrs)
Onward drive to Bamako; city tour of Bamako: overview of this sprawling city from Point G; visit the National Museum, the city market, the artisans’ village, and the fetish market for traditional medicine; in the evening, transfer to the airport for your final departure.(B, L, D)
credit card price USD$3104. (cash price $2985.) LAND only per person; double occupancy. Add USD$493.credit card price (cash price $474.) for single supplement (if available). Prices based on minimum group size of 8 and are based on 4 passengers per vehicle. If less than this number, the price will be higher. SORRY, NO CHILDREN UNDER 12.
BASIC TOUR PRICE INCLUDES:
- airport transfers upon arrival and departure in Bamako if you arrive/depart with the group
- 8 nights accommodation as indicated in itinerary with private facilities (check in 2pm, checkout 1200pm)
- all hotel taxes and local tourism taxes
- all tour features as listed in the itinerary
- day trip into Burkina Faso
- excursion into the Sahara Desert by camel caravan to visit a Tuareg camp on the dunes
- day-room in Bamako on the final day; check-out 6:00 PM
- private ground transportation by air-conditioned 4×4 vehicle, with driver and fuel
- sunset sail on the Niger River by private river boat
- experienced English-speaking guide throughout
- Airport arrival and departure assistance
- Meals only as indicated by (B) Full breakfast (L) Lunch and (D) Dinner –excluding drinks
- Entrance fees at attractions listed in the itinerary unless otherwise noted
- bus transfers to/from solar eclipse site
- eclipse briefing
- 3 bottles of mineral water per person per day
- beverages only where specified
BASIC TOUR PRICE DOES NOT INCLUDE:
- Passport fee (if you need to obtain a passport)
- Visa fees to Mali and Burkina Faso
- International air
- Hotel porterage
- Meals not stated, drinks, visas,and travel insurance
- Any additional charge(s) and/or special documentations to be filled for importing/exporting telescopes (if required)
- Dogon mask dance in a village
- Room use outside of normal check-in/check-out times
- travel insurance (highly recommended)
- airport transfers IF YOU DO NOT ARRIVE/DEPART WITH THE GROUP
- beverages unlesss specified
- airport departure taxes (if required)
- optional excursions
- tips and gratuities
- personal expenses and anything else not included in the ‘tour includes’ features list
PAYMENT SCHEDULE (per person)
BEFORE SEPTEMBER 1, 2011……………………….USD$520. DEPOSIT credit card price; (cash price USD$500).
SEPTEMBER 1, 2011…………………………………..USD$1040. ADDITIONAL credit card price (cash price USD$1000.) [total USD$1500]
MAY 1, 2012………………………………………………BALANCE DUE
CANCELLATION FEES (per person)
BEFORE SEPTEMBER 1, 2011………………………USD$200. EXCEPT IF YOU FIND A REPLACEMENT FOR YOURSELF. THEN, NO PENALTY.
SEPTEMBER 1, 2011 TO MAY 1, 2012…………..USD$500.
AFTER MAY 1, 2012…………………………………..100% OF THE TOTAL TOUR COST
Travel Leaders/Future Travel recommends that each client purchase adequate trip cancellation insurance, medical, baggage, accident and other personal effects insurance. Trip cancellation insurance must be purchased at time of initial deposit. Clients should be aware that we cannot guarantee the weather for this astronomical event or any other. Call Travel Leaders/Future Travel for details.
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