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Burkina Faso Travel Information

The Basics

Time

Burkina Faso has no GMT offset.

Electricity

Electrical outlets in Burkina Faso usually supply electricity at between 220 and 240 volts. European two-pin plugs with round pins are standard.

Language

About 69 languages are spoken in Burkina Faso, but the official language is French.

Travel Health

Malaria is a problem in Burkina Faso and some form of prophylaxis is recommended for all travellers in all areas of the country. A yellow fever vaccination is required for all travellers to Burkina Faso over one year of age. Vaccinations for hepatitis A, hepatitis B, typhoid and meningococcus are recommended. Those who will be spending a lot of time outdoors and are at risk of animal bites should consider a rabies vaccination. Visitors should also be up to date on vaccinations for polio, MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) and tetanus-diphtheria. Travellers should drink only bottled or filtered water and avoid ice in drinks; all meals should be eaten while hot and uncooked fruit and vegetables avoided.

Medical facilities are very limited and of poor quality, particularly outside of the capital city. Comprehensive travel insurance is required. In many areas of the country emergency medical services are nonexistent, and the supply of medication is often very limited. Travellers who require specific medications should bring along sufficient supplies, accompanied by a signed and dated note from a doctor detailing what the medication is and why it is needed.

Tipping

A 10 to 15 percent service fee is usually included in restaurant bills, but it is customary to tip taxi drivers, porters and hotel staff.

Safety Information

Burkina Faso is one of the safest countries in West Africa and most visits are trouble-free, but tourists are advised to exercise caution and maintain a high level of security as theft and banditry can be a problem. The northern Sahel region is considered dangerous, especially near the borders with Mali and Niger. The Sahel is too remote for the local government or foreign embassies to provide much assistance in the event of an emergency. There have been no documented terrorist attacks directed against foreigners in Burkina Faso, but there is concern that conflict in neighbouring countries may spill over, and some governments, including the British Foreign Office, advise against all but essential travel to the Sahel region.

Crime is a problem in Burkina Faso and incidents of robbery, sexual assault and rape against foreigners have been reported. Most crime, however, is petty, and visitors in cities should beware of bag-snatchers, pickpockets and scam artists.

Local Customs

There are several customs in Burkina Faso that visitors need to be aware of: photography is strictly controlled, and tourists should always ask permission before photographing any person, and never attempt to take a picture of a military or government building. Women should not wear short skirts or revealing clothing, and should refrain from smoking in public. Shaking hands is an appropriate way to greet a person regardless of sex, and one should always return a greeting. Homosexuality is not generally accepted in Burkina Faso. Eating, touching another person, and giving someone money with the left hand is considered offensive.

Business

Burkina Faso is a poor country, which doesn't rank highly for ease of doing business according to the World Bank. Business etiquette is fairly standard, with lightweight suits or traditional African dress the norm for meetings, and handshakes and business cards exchanged upon greeting. Business hours vary, but most offices are open from 7.30am to noon, and from 3pm to 5.30pm Monday to Friday. Some shops and businesses are also open on Saturdays from 9am to 1pm.

Communications

Communications in Burkina Faso are limited, even in major cities, due to the low penetration of electricity. Landline use is extremely low, but mobile phones are widely used. The international access code for Burkina Faso is 226. Internet use is also low but on the rise, with internet cafes popping up in major cities.

Duty Free

Visitors to Burkina Faso may import up to 200 cigarettes/50 cigars/100 cigarillos/250g of tobacco, one litre of spirit and one litre of wine, 500ml each of eau de toilette and perfume, and two still cameras/one movie camera. Sporting guns may be brought in by license only.

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