Introducing Burkina Faso

Burkina Faso sunrise © Jeff Attaway

Burkina Faso's name translates into 'the land of upright people', although it is equally well known for the remarkable hospitality of the locals and vibrant cultural life. Burkina Faso is landlocked, bordered by Mali, Niger, Benin, Togo, Ghana and Côte d'Ivoire. With sixty different ethnicities, this nation is a diverse blend of cultures and traditions, certainly worth exploring.

There are a surprising number of tourist attractions in Burkina Faso, despite the fact that very few tourists ever visit the country. The capital, Ouagadougou, is an agreeable place with excellent restaurants and entertainment options. The most interesting city to visit is Bobo Dioulasso, known throughout West Africa for its music and nightlife, and as the home of the Djembe drum. The city's atmospheric Old Quarter and Grande Mosque are also well worth visiting. Another city, Gorom Gorom, is known for its Thursday market and for the Feminine Artisan Centre of Gorom, where the local women demonstrate their skill in art, sculpture and pottery. Other camera-worthy Burkino Faso attractions include the granite-sculpting artists of Laongo, the sacred crocodiles of Sabou, the mausoleum commemorating Princess Guimbi Ouattara and the natural waterfall of Banfora.

Getting around Burkina Faso entails roughing it a bit as tourist infrastructure is practically nonexistent, but the adventure and scenery is compensation enough for the inconvenience of potholed roads and simple accommodation. There is a train service running from Ouagadougou to the other main towns, but flying is invariably the quickest travel option.

While the country is generally peaceful, the British Foreign Office advises against all travel north of the town of Boulsa, due to a general terrorist threat near the borders of Mali and Niger. Nevertheless, Burkina Faso will interest travellers looking for a rich and varied slice of West African life in the company of some of continent's friendliest people.

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