From March 27 to April 6, 2023, Nico Strong embarked on an enthralling journey through Burkina Faso and Niger, hoping to also traverse Mali but faced with unexpected changes. This adventure served as an eye-opening experience, featuring the vivid landscapes, vibrant cultures, and generous hospitality of these West African nations. This report aims to offer an insight into the often overlooked, yet uniquely captivating, travel destinations of Burkina Faso and Niger.
Ouagadougou and Surrounding Regions
On March 27, Nico landed at Ouagadougou airport with a Visa on Arrival (VOA) ready for US passport holders. After securing the VOA for 110,000 CFA, he applied for a Mali visa on March 28. That day, he also undertook a day trip to Tiebele to witness the renowned painted houses – a genuinely unique and beautiful sight.
Despite concerns regarding road safety in Burkina Faso, daytime travel was quite safe, suggesting that security has improved substantially.
Bobo-Dioullasso and Banfora
On March 29, travelers journeyed to Bobo-Dioullasso, stopping at the Bazoule crocodile lake and savoring the best ginger juice of my life for lunch in Boromo. Once in Bobo-Dioullasso, they toured the unforgettable mud mosque and got a glimpse of history in the town’s old quarter. They also had the chance to sample homemade beer, known as dolo.
The following day, they visited the colonial railroad station and headed to Banfora, where the Sindou Peaks and the Fabedougou Domes offered an unexpected natural beauty. However, due to unforeseen circumstances surrounding Mali visas, they had to return abruptly to Ouagadougou to apply for a Niger visa instead.
On March 31, travelers secured the Niger visa, switched flights at the AirBurkina office, and paid a visit to the national museum in Ouagadougou, which features a captivating display of Burkina Faso’s ethnic groups’ traditional houses, tribal law influences, and beautiful masks. They also visited the National heroes monument and the Thomas Sankara memorial, and enjoyed the view from the rooftop bar at Celestorium.
April 1 saw travelers flying to Niamey, Niger’s capital, though late due to a flight delay. Safety measures require an armed security detail for travel outside the cities, but the urban areas are stable and safe.
An early flight on April 2 took them to Agadez, where they toured the grand mosque and marveled at the region’s stunning architecture, including the Henri Barth house and the Martyr’s plaza. The evenings were particularly charming, enhanced by the peaceful ambiance of Ramadan.
The next day, they visited the Sultan of Agadez at the royal palace, the city’s market, and a few iconic buildings, including the old Hotel de L’Aïr, a former sultan’s palace.
After a day of rest on April 4 and a hearty meal at Le Pelier, they flew back to Niamey on April 5, taking a walk around the city’s new buildings. On the final day of the journey, they embarked on a boat ride down the Niger River, witnessing the vibrant local life along the riverside communities.
They visited the national museum, the tree of Tenere, the place de la concertation, and the grand mosque. After a long day of exploring, they gave caught a redeye flight to Paris.
The journey through Burkina Faso and Niger offered an array of cultural immersion, historical learning, and memorable experiences. It proved that despite being off the beaten path for most travelers, these countries offer an incredibly friendly atmosphere, with locals that might just be the most hospitable in Africa. Currently enjoying a relative period of peace, both Burkina Faso and Niger are worth considering for your next adventure.
This article is based on a post of Stefan Samuelsson, published in the facebook group Every Passport Stamp
Photo credits: Nico Strong