Jewellery stall selling beads and necklaces Deou market near Gorom-Gorom, Northern Burkina Faso (JanieB)

Burkina Faso


Overview

Burkina Faso travel guide, including map of Burkina Faso, top Burkina Faso travel experiences, tips for travel in Burkina Faso, plus camel trekking and film fes

If your traveller spirit sags every time you see a staged cultural display in a hotel bar, come to Burkina Faso. Short of ‘must-see’ sights, Burkina Faso is also short of tourists, meaning you can soak up the atmosphere of this dry, land-locked place with no danger of seeing a sight-seeing bus swinging round every corner.

To the north, the semi-desert Sahel is the site of frenetic trading at the camel and cattle markets. To the south, the Nazinga Game Ranch - home to 800 elephants - offers a spectacular chance to see a bath-time like no other. Burkina Faso's capital Ouagadougou (a joy to say out loud) has a buzzing arts scene and is a great place to go out. Burkina Faso’s main draws, though, are its ridiculously friendly people and its utter lack of a tourist trail.

Wanderlust recommends

  1. Take the scenic route to Ouagadougou via sacred rocks, mud mosques and the ‘African Pompeii’
  2. Hike or bike to the Karfiguéla Waterfalls near Banfora
  3. Look for locally made leather at the riotous Gorom-Gorom market
  4. Consider basing yourself in Bobo-Dioulasso: visit the Museé Provincial du Houët to see regional African art, batik and sculpture then at night kick back in Bobo’s many bars, clubs and live music venues.

Wanderlust tips

Check out Burkina Faso’s biennial pan-African film festival, Fespaco

Further Reading

Travel in Burkina Faso: vital statistics

  • Capital of Burkina Faso: Ouagadougou
  • Population of Burkina Faso: 13.2 million
  • Languages in Burkina Faso: French is the official language; also Moré, Dioula and Fulfulde
  • Time in Burkina Faso: GMT
  • International dialling code in Burkina Faso: +226
  • Voltage in Burkina Faso: 220AC, 50 Hz
  • Visas for Burkina Faso: Burkina Faso visas
  • Money in Burkina Faso: West African CFA franc (CFA). Take euros cash. Credit cards aren’t widely accepted.
  • Burkina Faso travel advice: Foreign & Commonwealth Office

When to go to Burkina Faso

Avoid the rainy season, from May to September. The most pleasant months are October to February, with daytime temperatures around 35°C and cool desert nights. March to May can be uncomfortably hot and oppressive, with temperatures in the Sahel rising above 45°C.

 

International airport

Ouagadougou (OUA), 8km from the city.

 

Getting around in Burkina Faso

A comprehensive bus network is cheap and mostly reliable; Ouaga is the main departure point. Bush taxis replace buses in remote areas. You can pick one up in a town’s gare routière. Fare depends on distance and road conditions. You can hire a 4WD vehicle with driver to explore the north of the country; note that many roads are impassable during the rainy season.

 

Burkina Faso accommodation

Burkina’s conference scene means there are plenty of mid-range options across the country. Budget options are available but note that rooms attached to bars often double up as brothels and that hot water is usually only available in the more expensive hotels. Where possible, avoid breakfast in the hotel and head to the streets.

 

Burkina Faso food & drink

Hotel restaurants tend to serve chicken, rice and couscous. Rice is often accompanied by spicy groundnut sauce. Street food includes brochettes (beef kebabs) and samsa (black-eyed bean fritters). Pounded millet and yam are popular local staples. The main beers are Brakina, Flag and So.b.bra. In villages you may be offered home-brewed millet beer, traditionally drunk from a calabash.

 

Health & safety in Burkina Faso

An international yellow fever vaccination certificate is compulsory. Speak to your GP about vaccinations. Malaria is a serious problem, so take anti-malaria tablets, use a mosquito net and cover up in the evenings. There is a high rate of HIV infection.

The biggest issue for most travellers is probably dehydration, so be sure to drink plenty of bottled water. Cities are generally safe but take sensible precautions against theft. Road accidents are common; avoid travelling by bus at night.