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Festival in the Desert

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I am planningto attend the festival in January and have a bunch of conflicting info from tour operators and state dept. I am looking to book through Palace Tours or Tim Best. Palace offers a shorter trip and flies you from Bamako to Timbuktu, Best uses ground transport and says it is safer and more reliable than planes in Mali. State DEpt says flying safer than roads. Has anyone traveled with either of these packagers before? I am really at sea as to which company I should use.

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