Burkina Faso Travel Guide
A landlocked country in West Africa that usually gets lost in the mix when it comes to tourist destinations, Burkina Faso is a country that has many hidden charms for travelers that are prepared to discover them.
From one of the more surprisingly abundant game reserves in West Africa, to one of the most unusual mosques that you will ever see, there is plenty to discover in this nation off-the-beaten-track.
Currency: CFA Francs
Languages: French, various indigenous languages
What To Do
Those wanting to check out the most significant cultural attraction that Burkina Faso has to offer will want to go out of their way to discover the Mosque of Bobo-Dioulasso.
Even if you don’t venture inside, making the trip out to this city in the western part of the country will be worth it alone for the unique Sudano-Sahelian architecture that this hall of worship possesses.
Pierced horizontally by over 65 different rods, this structure takes on a Mad Max-esque appearance that will make it a fascinating subject for photographers.
Even if you don’t make it out to Bobo-Dioulasso, there are plenty of interesting things for culture hounds to discover in the many markets of Ouagadougou.
Overflowing with every type of tropical fruit that is grown in the area, countless variations of traditional crafts, and other goods that are necessary for everyday life in Burkina Faso, you will get a chance to eat well, pick up souvenirs for friends and family back home, and get an insight on how everyday citizens in this country live their lives.
More than a generation ago, the state of many animal species in Burkina Faso was precarious, as they had been hunted to the edge of regional extinction by a population desperate for food and money.
Wanting to make a bleak situation better, Canadian brothers Robert and Clark Lungren founded Nazinga Game Ranch in 1979. Hiring poachers to become guards, they incentivized their former adversaries to become allies in their cause, making it easier to begin rebuilding the numbers of animals that included elephants, antelopes, buffalo, warthogs, and other mammals.
The park was such a success that they eventually had to begin culling their numbers (the meat was sold to local markets) in order to make sure the park remained sustainable. The ranch is now managed by the Burkina Faso government as a wildlife park, specializing in delivering safaris to foreign tourists.
When you are done taking in the various species of African animals that can be sighted at the Nazinga Game Ranch, don’t forget to take a trip to check out Les Pics de Sindou.
Located out in the Banfora area, these stone spires stick up out of the surrounding earth in an impressive fashion. Formed from limestone, this site will be a particular interest to those that have a passion for geology.
That isn’t all when it comes to natural attractions in this area, as those that are passionate about waterfalls will find a truly magnificent sight in the form of Les Cascades de Banfora. With white water tumbling over multiple cataracts, this beautiful spot is popular among locals and intrepid travelers has a spot to cool off on a hot day in Burkina Faso.
The best time to check this attraction out shortly after the beginning of the dry season, as the rivers will still be swollen with water from the rainy months that preceded it, but the access roads will have mostly dried out allowing for easier access to the site.
What to Eat
Like many other countries in Western and central Africa, Fufu is a popular source of starch for everyday people looking for a boost of energy.
Made from boiled cassava or plantains, it is then pounded into a paste that can be scooped up with one’s hand and eaten with soup or a side dipping sauce.
Although it can appear to be bland at first sight, be sure to give it an honest chance and you may find yourself pleasantly surprised at its flavor, especially when paired with side dips.
That flavorful meat smell that you immediately notice while walking the streets of towns and cities in Burkina Faso is the unmistakable scent of Brochette.
Consisting of various kinds of meat that roast on bamboo skewers above a wood charcoal griller, these can serve as an alternative side dish for those that don’t have the inclination to eat fufu, or as a secondary side dish to Fufu.
If you want to give the national dish of Burkina Faso a try, be sure to order some Riz Gras when you are out at a local restaurant. There are various versions of this dish, but generally, it combines rice, onions, tomato paste, and various types of meat that depends on the cook making it.
You will usually find beef, although fish and other types of meats can also be found throughout the country.