Niger Travel Guide
Niger is not an easy country to travel to, as you need to apply for a visa before visiting, it has real security concerns, and it is the second poorest country on Earth, meaning infrastructure is lacking in the most basic areas.
Despite all this, it has a rich human history, architecture that is unique in the world, and one of the last wild herds of giraffes in Western Africa. For those prepared to endure discomfort, Niger has many rewarding experiences that are just waiting to be claimed.
Currency: CFA Francs
Languages: French, Djerma, Hausa
What To Do
Learn about the country you are about to explore by visiting the National Museum of Niger. In its exhibits, the usual artifacts bring the history and culture of Niger to life, but in its paleontology hall, you’ll find dinosaur skeletons found within this nation’s borders.
Also check out the Pablo Toucet pavilion, which identifies the different kinds of dress that Niger’s different ethnic groups wear.
Want to observe Niger culture in real time? Spend a few hours strolling the stalls of Niamey Grand Market. Due to the limited infrastructure in this Sahelian country, this outdoor centre of commerce has become the locus of shopping for the entire country.
People from across the country come here to purchase and sell items, which only adds to the buzz of this place. In addition to the hardware and food stalls, there are also craft stands where you can purchase souvenirs that you can take home to your friends and family.
Outside the capital, the Agadez Mosque is one of the biggest attractions in Niger. However, recent security issues, access to this city has been restricted by the government at times. Upon your arrival, inquire on the current situation to avoid disappointment, as foreigners attempting to travel to Agadez will be turned back at the line of control if access is barred.
If you do make it there, you’ll find yourself in a place which has been a fixture on trans-Saharan trade routes for centuries. It is best known for its mosque, as it is famed for being the tallest adobe building in the world. Its highest minaret stands 27 metres high above the ground, permitting visitors to have amazing views of the surrounding area.
Built with numerous wooden slats which are driven through its bricks, it has the same look of many other mosques throughout the Sahel, all of which stand out compared to other mosques in Africa.
After exploring this amazing mosque, discover additional highlights contained within the Historic Centre of Agadez. The buildings found within the centre, as well as the splendour of the Palace of the Sultan, will invite you to linger longer than you originally thought you would.
Lovers of natural attractions will want to check out the Koure Giraffe Reserve. Within the bounds of this park in Niger, you’ll find the last wild giraffe herd in West Africa.
Actively managed by a dedicated group of conservationists for over a decade, their efforts have been met with a great deal of success, as the number of giraffes in the herd has risen from 60 to 300 in the most recent count. There is a nominal fee at the gate, all of which goes toward ensuring that this progress continues in the future.
What to Eat
Looking for a local snack to kill your hunger while out in the countryside of Niger? Purchase some Kilishi before setting out. A type of jerky made from cow, goat, or sheep meat, it is made by slicing muscles off the animal’s bones, sorting them into metre-long sheets, and drying them out in the sun.
After this has been achieved, they are dipped into a marinate called Labu, which is made from peanuts, honey, ground-up onions, salt, spices, and water. Dried again for several hours, they are then put up for sale in stores, where it is bought up eagerly by travelling locals.
When it comes time to sit down for a full meal, Jollof Rice is a favourite of many residents of Niger. A one pot meal made from rice, tomato paste, tomatoes, onions, and various spices, it is a flavourful dish that is said to be the precursor to jambalaya in the United States.
Given that many of this region’s people were shipped over to America during the slave trade, it is easy to agree with this assessment.
If you are looking for something sweet to end your day in Niger, grab some Araki from a street vendor. The local name for raw sugarcane, these 12-inch slabs of pure sucrose will satisfy your sweet tooth in the most primal of ways.