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.
Check out Burkina Faso’s biennial pan-African film festival, Fespaco
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.
Ouagadougou (OUA), 8km from the city.
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’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.
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.
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.