Burkina FasoTips

Travel Advice and Tips for Burkina Faso

1. What are the must-visit destinations in Burkina Faso?

Burkina Faso is a country rich in culture, history, and natural beauty, offering travelers a unique experience. Some of the must-visit destinations in Burkina Faso include:

1. Ouagadougou: The capital city of Burkina Faso is a vibrant hub of culture and art. Visitors can explore the Grand Mosque, the National Museum, and the bustling markets to immerse themselves in the local way of life.

2. Bobo-Dioulasso: This city is known for its colonial architecture, vibrant music scene, and the beautiful Grande Mosquée. Visitors can also explore the nearby villages to experience traditional Burkinabe culture.

3. Banfora: Located in the southwest of Burkina Faso, Banfora is home to stunning natural attractions such as the Karfiguéla Waterfalls, the Sindou Peaks, and the Domes de Fabedougou. Visitors can also take a boat ride on the stunning Tengrela Lake to see hippos in their natural habitat.

4. Sindou Peaks: These unique rock formations in the southwest of Burkina Faso are a popular destination for hikers and nature lovers. Visitors can explore the winding paths and caves of the Sindou Peaks to enjoy spectacular views of the surrounding landscape.

5. Loropeni Ruins: This UNESCO World Heritage Site is home to the ruins of an ancient Iron Age settlement, offering visitors a glimpse into Burkina Faso’s rich archaeological history.

These are just a few of the must-visit destinations in Burkina Faso that showcase the country’s diverse attractions and cultural heritage.

2. What is the best time of year to visit Burkina Faso?

The best time of year to visit Burkina Faso is during the cooler and drier months of November to February. This period is considered the optimal time for traveling to Burkina Faso as temperatures are more bearable, and there is less risk of encountering heavy rains which can disrupt travel plans. During these months, you can also experience festivals and cultural events such as the FESPACO film festival in Ouagadougou. It is important to note that the harmattan winds, which bring dry and dusty weather, can also occur during this time, so it is advisable to come prepared with appropriate clothing and gear. Overall, visiting Burkina Faso during the cool and dry season will enhance your travel experience and allow you to fully enjoy all that the country has to offer.

3. What are the visa requirements for traveling to Burkina Faso?

To travel to Burkina Faso, visitors are required to obtain a visa before arrival. The visa application process typically involves submitting a completed application form, a valid passport with at least six months validity, proof of accommodation, return flight ticket, and proof of sufficient funds to cover the stay in Burkina Faso. Additionally, travelers may need to provide a yellow fever vaccination certificate upon entry into the country.

1. It is advisable to check with the nearest Burkina Faso embassy or consulate to confirm the specific visa requirements based on your nationality.
2. Processing times and visa fees may vary, so it is recommended to apply for the visa well in advance of your planned travel dates.
3. Travelers should ensure they have all the necessary documentation and meet the visa requirements to avoid any issues upon arrival in Burkina Faso.

4. How safe is it to travel to Burkina Faso?

1. As an expert in travel advice for Burkina Faso, I must highlight that while the country has been facing security challenges in recent years due to terrorism and occasional political unrest, there are still safe ways to travel to Burkina Faso if proper precautions are taken. It is crucial to stay informed about the current security situation in the country before your trip by checking travel advisories from your government and consulting with local authorities or reputable travel agencies.

2. When traveling to Burkina Faso, it is advisable to avoid areas near the borders with Mali, Niger, and Benin, as well as areas with a history of unrest such as the northern regions. Additionally, it is important to exercise caution in crowded places, be vigilant at all times, and avoid demonstrating wealth.

3. Travelers should consider using reputable tour operators, staying in secure accommodations, and arranging for reliable transportation. It is recommended to have appropriate travel insurance that includes coverage for medical emergencies and evacuation.

4. Overall, while there are security risks in Burkina Faso, with careful planning, staying informed, and taking necessary precautions, it is possible to travel safely to the country. It is advisable to assess the current situation, follow the guidance of local authorities, and maintain a high level of awareness throughout your trip for a safe and enjoyable experience.

5. What are the recommended vaccinations for travelers to Burkina Faso?

1. When traveling to Burkina Faso, it is recommended that you ensure your routine vaccines are up to date. Additionally, the following vaccinations are commonly advised for travelers to the country:

2. Hepatitis A: This vaccine is recommended due to the potential risk of contracting hepatitis A through contaminated food or water in Burkina Faso.

3. Typhoid: Typhoid fever is prevalent in Burkina Faso, and it is transmitted through contaminated food and water. Vaccination is recommended for travelers to reduce the risk of infection.

4. Yellow Fever: Yellow fever is a risk in Burkina Faso, and proof of yellow fever vaccination is required for entry into the country for travelers coming from regions with risk of transmission.

5. Meningococcal meningitis: Burkina Faso is located in the meningitis belt of Africa, where outbreaks of meningococcal meningitis can occur. Vaccination is recommended, especially if you plan to visit during the dry season (December to June).

It is advisable to consult with a healthcare provider or travel medicine clinic at least 4-6 weeks before your trip to discuss the recommended vaccinations based on your individual health and travel itinerary.

6. What are the customs and cultural norms to be aware of in Burkina Faso?

When traveling to Burkina Faso, it is important to be aware of the customs and cultural norms to ensure a respectful and enjoyable experience. Here are some key aspects to keep in mind:

1. Greetings: Greetings are very important in Burkinabe culture. It is customary to shake hands with everyone you meet, starting with the most senior person in the group. Additionally, using greetings such as “Bonjour” (good morning) and “Bonsoir” (good evening) is highly appreciated.

2. Clothing: Burkina Faso is a conservative country, so it is important to dress modestly, especially in rural areas and when visiting religious sites. Avoid wearing revealing clothing and opt for loose-fitting outfits that cover your shoulders and knees.

3. Respect for elders: Elders are highly respected in Burkinabe society, so it is important to show deference and respect towards them. Always greet elders first and use titles such as “Monsieur” or “Madame” when addressing them.

4. Food and dining etiquette: Sharing a meal is an important part of Burkinabe culture. It is polite to accept any food or drink offered to you, even if you are not hungry. When dining with locals, wait for the host to start eating before you begin.

5. Avoid public displays of affection: Public displays of affection are frowned upon in Burkina Faso, so it is best to refrain from any overt displays of affection in public.

6. Religious customs: Burkina Faso is a diverse country with a mix of religions, including Islam and Christianity. It is important to be respectful of religious practices and customs, such as dressing modestly when visiting mosques or churches.

By being aware of and respecting these customs and cultural norms, you can ensure a positive and enriching experience in Burkina Faso.

7. What is the currency used in Burkina Faso and how can I access money while traveling there?

The currency used in Burkina Faso is the West African CFA franc, designated by the symbol XOF. Here are some tips on accessing money while traveling in Burkina Faso:

1. Currency Exchange: It is recommended to exchange some money into CFA francs before traveling to Burkina Faso to have some local currency on hand upon arrival. You can exchange currency at banks, exchange bureaus, or hotels in major cities like Ouagadougou and Bobo-Dioulasso.

2. ATMs: ATMs are widely available in Burkina Faso, especially in urban areas. Major credit and debit cards such as Visa and MasterCard are generally accepted at ATMs. However, it is advisable to inform your bank of your travel plans to avoid any issues with international transactions.

3. Credit Cards: While credit cards are accepted at some hotels, restaurants, and larger stores in urban centers, they may not be widely accepted in more rural areas. It is always a good idea to carry cash for smaller purchases or when traveling to more remote locations.

4. Traveler’s Checks: Traveler’s checks are not commonly used in Burkina Faso and may be difficult to cash. It is recommended to rely on a combination of cash and cards for your financial needs.

5. Currency Restrictions: There are no restrictions on the amount of foreign currency that can be brought into Burkina Faso. However, it is advisable to declare amounts exceeding XOF 5,000,000 or its equivalent in foreign currency upon arrival.

6. Safety Tips: Be cautious when using ATMs in public places and avoid displaying large amounts of cash. It is advisable to split your money and keep it in different locations for security purposes.

7. Currency Exchange Rates: Keep in mind that exchange rates can vary, so it is advisable to check the rates before exchanging currency to ensure you are getting a fair deal.

By following these tips, you can ensure a smooth and hassle-free experience when accessing money while traveling in Burkina Faso.

8. What are the transportation options available for getting around Burkina Faso?

There are several transportation options available for getting around Burkina Faso, each with its own pros and cons. Here are some of the main ways to travel within the country:

1. Buses and Minibusses: This is one of the most common and affordable modes of transportation in Burkina Faso. Buses and minibusses connect major cities and towns, making it relatively easy to get around. However, they can be crowded and not always the most comfortable option.

2. Taxis: Taxis are widely available in urban areas and can be a convenient way to get around, especially for shorter distances. Make sure to negotiate the fare before getting in to avoid any misunderstandings.

3. Car Rentals: Renting a car can provide more flexibility and independence when traveling in Burkina Faso. However, driving conditions can be challenging, with poorly maintained roads and chaotic traffic in some areas.

4. Motorcycles: Motorcycles, or “motos,” are a popular mode of transportation for short trips within cities and towns. They are often quicker than taxis and provide a more adventurous way to explore the surroundings.

5. Bicycle: In some places, especially in rural areas, bicycles can be a convenient and environmentally friendly way to get around. They offer a slower-paced but immersive way to experience the country.

It’s important to note that transportation options may vary depending on the region you are in. It’s advisable to check with locals or your accommodation for the most up-to-date and reliable transportation options available to you during your visit to Burkina Faso.

9. Can I drink the tap water in Burkina Faso?

No, it is advisable to avoid drinking tap water in Burkina Faso. The water quality in the country is not always reliable, and it may not be safe for consumption due to potential contamination with bacteria, parasites, and other harmful substances. It is recommended for visitors to stick to bottled water or water that has been properly filtered and boiled before drinking. Staying hydrated is crucial in Burkina Faso, especially in the hot and arid climate, so be sure to always have access to clean and safe drinking water to prevent any waterborne illnesses during your travels.

10. What are the top traditional dishes to try in Burkina Faso?

1. One of the top traditional dishes to try in Burkina Faso is “Riz Gras”, which is a flavorful rice dish typically cooked with meat, vegetables, and spices. It is a popular and hearty meal that showcases the country’s culinary influences from its diverse cultures.

2. Another must-try dish is “Poulet Bicyclette”, which translates to “bicycle chicken” in English. This dish features succulent chicken cooked in a rich tomato sauce with onions, peppers, and local spices. It is often served with rice or couscous and is a staple in Burkinabe cuisine.

3. Soupe de Poisson” is a traditional fish soup that is enjoyed across Burkina Faso. This dish typically consists of a flavorful broth made with fish, vegetables, and aromatic herbs. It is a comforting and satisfying meal that highlights the fresh ingredients found in the region.

4. Brochettes” are a popular street food in Burkina Faso and are a must-try for visitors looking to experience the local cuisine. These skewered meats, often made with beef or goat, are grilled to perfection and served with a spicy peanut or tomato sauce. They are a delicious and portable option for those on the go.

5. To”, a traditional millet-based dish, is a fundamental part of Burkinabe cuisine. It is similar to a porridge and is often served with a variety of sauces made from vegetables, peanuts, or meat. To is a staple food in Burkina Faso and is enjoyed by people of all ages.

Overall, trying these traditional dishes in Burkina Faso is a fantastic way to immerse yourself in the country’s culture and culinary heritage. Each dish offers a unique flavor profile and provides insight into the local ingredients and cooking techniques that define Burkinabe cuisine.

11. Are there any specific health and safety tips for travelers in Burkina Faso?

Health and safety are important considerations for travelers visiting Burkina Faso. Here are some specific tips to help ensure a safe and healthy trip:

1. Vaccinations: Make sure you are up to date on routine vaccines and consider vaccinations for diseases such as yellow fever, typhoid, and hepatitis A and B before traveling to Burkina Faso.

2. Malaria Prevention: It is essential to take precautions to prevent malaria, including taking antimalarial medication, using insect repellent, and sleeping under mosquito nets.

3. Safe Food and Water: Drink only bottled or boiled water, and avoid consuming raw or undercooked food, particularly from street vendors.

4. Sun Protection: Burkina Faso experiences intense sun exposure, so be sure to use sunscreen, wear protective clothing, and stay hydrated.

5. Traffic Safety: Exercise caution when crossing the streets, as traffic can be chaotic in the cities. Be aware of your surroundings and use designated crosswalks when available.

6. Security: Stay informed about the current security situation and follow the advice of local authorities and your embassy. Avoid displaying valuable items and be cautious in crowded areas.

7. Healthcare: Familiarize yourself with the location of the nearest medical facilities and carry a basic first aid kit with essential medications.

8. Travel Insurance: Consider purchasing travel insurance that includes medical coverage in case of emergencies.

By following these tips and staying vigilant during your travels in Burkina Faso, you can help ensure a safe and enjoyable experience in this West African country.

12. How can I respect the local customs and traditions while traveling in Burkina Faso?

Respecting local customs and traditions is essential when traveling in Burkina Faso to ensure a positive and respectful interaction with the local population. Here are some tips on how to do so:

1. Dress modestly: Burkina Faso is a conservative country, so it is important to dress modestly to show respect for the local customs. Avoid wearing revealing clothing, especially in rural areas.

2. Greet people properly: Greetings are an important part of Burkinabe culture. Always greet people with a smile and a handshake, using the appropriate greetings based on the time of day.

3. Respect religious traditions: Burkina Faso is a predominantly Muslim country with a significant Christian minority. Make sure to respect local religious practices and customs, such as refraining from eating, drinking, or smoking in public during Ramadan.

4. Ask permission before taking photos: Always ask for permission before taking photos of people, especially in rural areas. Some locals may not be comfortable with having their picture taken.

5. Respect elders: In Burkinabe culture, elders are highly respected. Always show respect to older people by greeting them first and using proper titles.

6. Learn a few phrases in the local languages: Attempting to speak some of the local languages, such as Moore or Dioula, can go a long way in showing respect for the culture and building rapport with the locals.

7. Avoid public displays of affection: Public displays of affection are not common in Burkinabe culture, so it is best to refrain from such behavior while in the country.

8. Respect traditional customs and rituals: If you are invited to participate in a traditional ceremony or ritual, make sure to follow the customs and traditions as closely as possible.

9. Be mindful of your behavior: Always be mindful of your behavior and actions to avoid offending the locals. For example, shouting or being overly boisterous in public places may be considered disrespectful.

10. Support local customs and traditions: Whenever possible, support local artisans and businesses that promote traditional Burkinabe crafts and practices.

By following these tips, you can show respect for the local customs and traditions while traveling in Burkina Faso, fostering positive interactions and cultural exchange with the local community.

13. What are the best markets and shopping experiences in Burkina Faso?

Burkina Faso offers a unique shopping experience with its vibrant markets that are a hub of local culture and commerce. Some of the best markets to visit in Burkina Faso include:

1. Grand Market in Ouagadougou: This bustling market is a must-visit for anyone looking to experience the vibrant atmosphere of Burkina Faso. Here you can find a wide array of goods such as local crafts, souvenirs, clothing, and fresh produce.

2. Rood Woko Market in Bobo-Dioulasso: This market is known for its selection of traditional crafts and artwork, including wooden carvings, textiles, and jewelry. It’s a great place to shop for unique souvenirs to take back home.

3. Fada N’Gourma Market: Located in the eastern part of Burkina Faso, this market offers a variety of traditional goods such as leatherwork, pottery, and handmade textiles. It’s a great place to immerse yourself in the local culture and pick up authentic souvenirs.

4. Banfora Market: This market is famous for its fresh fruits and vegetables, as well as a variety of locally made goods such as shea butter products and traditional clothing. It’s a great place to sample some of the local flavors and pick up unique items.

Overall, visiting the markets in Burkina Faso is a great way to immerse yourself in the local culture, interact with friendly locals, and pick up some unique souvenirs to remember your trip by. Just make sure to bargain with the vendors to get the best prices!

14. Are there any specific dress codes to follow in Burkina Faso?

In Burkina Faso, it is advisable to dress modestly and respect the local customs and traditions. Here are some specific dress codes to follow while in Burkina Faso:

1. Avoid wearing revealing clothing, such as short skirts or shorts, as it may be considered disrespectful.
2. It is recommended to wear loose and lightweight clothing to stay comfortable in the hot climate.
3. Women should consider wearing longer skirts or dresses that cover the knees and shoulders, particularly when visiting religious sites or rural areas.
4. Men typically wear long pants and shirts, rather than shorts and tank tops.
5. Be mindful of cultural sensitivities and dress conservatively when interacting with locals, especially in rural areas.

By following these dress codes, you can show respect for the local culture and avoid inadvertently causing offense.

15. What are the main languages spoken in Burkina Faso and how much French do I need to know?

The main languages spoken in Burkina Faso are French, Moore, Fulfulde, Dioula, and other indigenous languages. French is the official language of the country, and while many Burkinabe people speak at least some French, especially in urban areas and among the educated population, it is important to note that fluency in French may vary depending on the region and individual. If you are visiting Burkina Faso as a tourist, having a basic proficiency in French can be very helpful for communicating with locals, navigating transportation, ordering food, and seeking assistance when needed. However, you can still get by with minimal French, as many people in the tourism industry and major cities speak English or have some knowledge of other languages. Learning a few key French phrases and greetings can go a long way in showing respect for the local culture and enhancing your overall travel experience.

16. Which are the best accommodations options in Burkina Faso?

1. One of the highly recommended accommodation options in Burkina Faso is the Laico Ouaga 2000 in Ouagadougou, the capital city. This luxurious hotel offers comfortable rooms, excellent amenities, and a convenient location for exploring the city.

2. Another popular choice is the Hotel Palm Beach in Bobo-Dioulasso, known for its beautiful garden setting, spacious rooms, and friendly staff. It provides a relaxing ambience and easy access to attractions in the region.

3. For a unique and cultural experience, consider staying at a traditional guesthouse known as a “auberge” in villages or rural areas. These accommodations offer a more authentic stay, allowing guests to immerse themselves in the local culture and way of life. Examples include Auberge le Lion and Auberge de Dafra in Banfora.

4. If you prefer budget-friendly options, there are several guesthouses and hostels in major cities like Ouagadougou and Bobo-Dioulasso that provide basic amenities and a comfortable stay at affordable rates. Some popular choices include Villa Yiri Suma in Ouagadougou and Auberge Aoua in Bobo-Dioulasso.

17. What are the top outdoor activities and adventures to experience in Burkina Faso?

1. Explore the Sindou Peaks: Located in the south-west of Burkina Faso, the Sindou Peaks offer a unique landscape with impressive rock formations perfect for hiking and rock climbing.

2. Visit the Nazinga Game Ranch: This wildlife reserve is home to a variety of animals, including elephants, buffalos, and antelopes. Visitors can enjoy safari drives to observe these majestic creatures in their natural habitat.

3. Experience the Domes de Fabedougou: These natural rock formations resemble honeycombs and are popular among visitors for hiking, climbing, and taking in the stunning views of the surrounding area.

4. Discover the Banfora Cascades: The cascades are a series of waterfalls surrounded by lush vegetation, offering visitors the chance to swim, relax, and enjoy the beautiful natural scenery.

5. Go on a camel trek in the Sahel region: Experience the traditional way of travel in Burkina Faso by embarking on a camel trek through the Sahel region, where you can immerse yourself in the local culture and landscapes.

6. Attend the Festival International des Masques et des Arts (FESTIMA): This biennial festival celebrates traditional masks and cultural performances from various ethnic groups in Burkina Faso, providing a unique and immersive cultural experience for visitors.

7. Explore the Réserve de Biosphère de la Mare aux Hippopotames: This biosphere reserve is home to a large population of hippos, as well as a diverse range of bird species. Visitors can take boat tours to observe these animals in their natural habitat.

8. Participate in a traditional dance or drumming workshop: Burkina Faso is known for its vibrant music and dance culture, and visitors have the opportunity to learn traditional dance moves or drumming techniques from local experts.

Overall, Burkina Faso offers a wide range of outdoor activities and adventures for visitors to enjoy, from exploring unique geological formations to experiencing the rich cultural heritage of the country through traditional festivals and activities.

18. How can I interact with the local communities and support sustainable tourism in Burkina Faso?

Interacting with local communities and supporting sustainable tourism in Burkina Faso are important steps to experiencing the country authentically while contributing positively to the local economy and environment. Here are some ways to achieve this:

1. Stay in locally owned accommodations: Opt for guesthouses or eco-lodges run by local communities or individuals, which not only provide a more immersive experience but also directly benefit the hosts and their families.

2. Hire local guides: Engage local guides for tours and excursions to explore the country’s attractions. This supports local employment and ensures that you receive insights from someone with a deep understanding of the area.

3. Shop at local markets: Purchase souvenirs, crafts, and products from local markets and artisans. This directly supports local businesses and artisans, preserving traditional crafts and boosting the local economy.

4. Respect local customs and traditions: Take the time to learn about the cultural norms and traditions of the communities you visit. Respect local customs, dress modestly, and seek permission before taking photos.

5. Participate in community-based tourism initiatives: Many communities in Burkina Faso offer cultural experiences, homestays, and volunteer opportunities. Participating in these initiatives provides direct benefits to the community and allows you to engage with locals on a deeper level.

6. Minimize your environmental impact: Practice responsible tourism by minimizing your environmental footprint. Reduce waste, conserve water and energy, and support eco-friendly initiatives wherever possible.

By following these tips, you can interact with local communities in Burkina Faso in a respectful and meaningful way while supporting sustainable tourism initiatives that benefit both the local population and the environment.

19. Are there any specific etiquette tips for interacting with locals in Burkina Faso?

When interacting with locals in Burkina Faso, it is important to be respectful and polite. Here are some specific etiquette tips to keep in mind:

1. Greetings are very important in Burkina Faso. It is common to greet people with a handshake and exchange pleasantries before starting a conversation.
2. Avoid using overly direct language or making demands. It is better to be polite and use respectful language when speaking with locals.
3. It is customary to use titles such as “Mr. or “Mrs. when addressing people, followed by their last name.
4. Expressing gratitude and showing appreciation is highly valued in Burkinabe culture. Saying “thank you” and showing gratitude when someone helps you goes a long way.
5. When invited to someone’s home, it is polite to bring a small gift such as fruit, pastries, or a small token of appreciation.
6. It is respectful to ask for permission before taking photographs of people or their property.
7. Dress modestly and conservatively, especially when visiting rural areas or religious sites.
8. Remember to remove your shoes when entering someone’s home.
9. Avoid discussing sensitive topics such as politics and religion, unless the other person initiates the conversation.
10. Lastly, always show genuine interest in the culture and traditions of Burkina Faso. Locals appreciate visitors who take the time to learn about their way of life.

20. What are the emergency contact numbers and services available to travelers in Burkina Faso?

In Burkina Faso, travelers can contact emergency services by dialing the following numbers:

1. Police: The emergency number to reach the police in Burkina Faso is 17.
2. Ambulance: To request ambulance services in case of a medical emergency, travelers can dial 101.
3. Fire Department: In the event of a fire emergency, individuals can contact the fire department by dialing 18.

It’s important for travelers to keep these emergency contact numbers handy at all times, as prompt action can be crucial in emergency situations. Additionally, travelers should also consider registering with their embassy or consulate in Burkina Faso for additional support and assistance during their travels.