A Trip I'm Considering. Need Feedback
Here's the gist of it: New York to Bamako, spend several days there; take a twelve-hour bus from Bamako to Ouagadougou, visit the city and some villages toward the north. Ideally, also take a quick trip to Niamey, then back to Bamako or Ouaga, depending on the tickets.
As risky as the Malian leg may sound, I have the impression that southern Mali is not (or not yet) under danger from AQIM. Am not sure how to research that bus ride - seems safer than renting a car - and don't know how to evaluate security at the Bamako latitude.