It seems – not much time is left to enjoy the beauty of the mighty Gouina Falls in Mali. By the 2017 most of the water from the falls will be diverted to a new hydroelectric plant.


Gouina Falls have formed on the mighty Senegal River. Water here falls over the step of hard Precambrian sandstone forming some 15 – 16 m tall and approximately 500 m wide waterfall.

During the rainy season these falls become very powerful – up to 2430 m³ of water every second (or even 5000 m³/s) what is comparable with the most powerful falls in the world, but during the dry season the volume falls hundreds of times to meagre 12 – 13 cubic metres per second. Thus the other nickname of falls – "Niagara falls of Mali" – are justified to some extent.

Above the falls in several places have formed large potholes – up to 2 m deep and 2 by 2 m large voids, which become visible during the dry season.

Gouina Falls, Mali
Gouina Falls/ Jacques Taberlet, Flickr / CC BY-SA 3.0

Most images of this waterfall are taken in dry season, when the dirt roads allow to access this remote waterfall. In rainy periods this waterfall becomes almost inaccessible by car.

Hydroelectric plant

Currently (in the early 2016) next to the falls is ongoing construction of Gouina Hydroelectric Plant – the possibility of this plant was explored already in 1921-1922 (1). Unfortunately this plant will take away much of the power of this waterfall, leaving the rim of the falls almost dry – just as it happened to the similar Félou Falls downstreams.


  1. Y.Chaineau, L’usine hydro-electrique du Felou – La chute de Gouina. La Houille Blanche, Mars-Avril 1929. Visited in 4th January 2016.
Gouina Falls on the map
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Location, GPS coordinates: 14.0151 N 11.1025 E
Categories: Waterfalls
Values: Geology
Rating: 3.5 out of 10 stars
Where is located? Africa, Mali, western part of Kayes district, some 57 km (by road) west from Bafoulabé
Name in French: Chutes de Gouina
Alternate names: Diamo Falls (after the nearby village), "singing falls"
Height: 16 m
Drops: 1
Tallest drop: 15 – 16 m
Width: ˜ 500 m
Average annual flow: ˜ 12 – 13 m³/s in dry season and up to 2430 m³/s in the rainy season
Stream: Sénégal River

Landmarks of Mali

The mysterious Bandiagara Escarpment, Mali
The mysterious Bandiagara Escarpment / Timm Guenther, / CC BY-SA 3.0
It is well possible that the most romantic African country is Mali. Like many countries in this beautiful continent, Mali nowadays has complex times, but in the past it has seen prosperity, flourishing of science and political importance. Here developed several empires, were built enormous cities. Traces of those times have been preserved up to this day – in the highly unusual architecture, living traditions, ruins of once prosperous cities and art monuments.

Waterfalls and rapids

Virginia Falls, Canada
Virginia Falls / Paul Gierszewski, Wikimedia Commons / public domain
Some of the most fascinating and awe inspiring natural monuments are waterfalls, or locations where a river abruptly changes its elevation.

Recommended books

Mali: Land of Gold and Glory

Introduce elementary and middle school students to the ancient African empire of Mali, and teach them about an amazing history–and about themselves. Mali, one of the most glorious but least known civilizations of the world, comes to life through vivid color photographs, timelines, maps…and the legends of the griots, or storytellers, who’ve preserved the past of Mali for millennia, handing down stories of brave kings from generation to generation.

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