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Introducing Burkina Faso

Burkina Faso sunrise © Jeff Attaway

Its name meaning 'land of the upright men', Burkina Faso is a country of 60 different ethnicities and a diverse blend of cultures and traditions. The country is landlocked, bordered by Mali, Niger, Benin, Togo, Ghana, and Cote d'Ivoire.

There are a surprising number of attractions in Burkina Faso, despite the fact that very few tourists ever visit the country. The capital, Ouagadougou, is a welcoming city with excellent restaurants and entertainment options.

The most interesting place 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 sites that are sure to capture a visitor's imagination 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 infrastructure remains underdeveloped. But the adventure and scenery is compensation enough for the inconvenience of potholed roads and basic facilities. 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.

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