Burkina Faso


We reached Ougadougou (pronounced “Wagadougou”) in good time, despite the potholes, livestock and other drivers driving more or less in the middle of the road, irrespective of which direction they were traveling.  Burkina Faso is a much poorer country than Ghana, although its name comes from a local language meaning “Land of the Honourable”, which hints at the fact that this small country still has much to offer the traveler.


The difference from Ghana was immediate – much less development and agriculture, more basic housing, an even greater Moslem influence with the smallest villages sporting the most beautiful mosques , and of course, French speaking. We realized that we will not hear English out of choice again on this trip, only French, Spanish and German! So out with the dictionary and “petit petit” French was again the order of the day.


We drove through a countryside green from ongoing rains, with many of the surrounding countryside standing in water. The vegetation is thick savanna where not cleared for agriculture, reminding us of the Northern province in South Africa during the rainy season. The reappearance of Baobabs added to this feeling.


We passed many bicycles along the road, as well as the usual overloaded taxis. It appeared that the local variation here is that the “conductor” sits outside the taxi whilst driving, either clinging to the back, or sitting on top, probably to allow for another fare-paying customer to squeeze inside.

  No concern for safety !!!

On the recommendation of fellow Africa travelers, we booked into the OK Inn, just south of the city centre. With a swimming pool, internet, a self contained bungalow with a hot bath WITH A PLUG, it was luxurious.  Annaliese had “the best bath since Cape Town” (I won’t tell you how she really described it, as there may be children reading this!!)

 Our abode at the OK hotel

 Despite our tight schedule, we decided to spend another day and night  exploring the eastern part of Burkina Faso, visiting some of the more traditional villages and markets there, before heading into Mali, and so the next morning we headed east on a road less traveled.




Kaya , Ouahigouya and Border

We left  Waga  after Stewart had changed some US$ at the local Chinese Shop ( yes, they’re here too!) and got a full tank of diesel (Still horrendously expensive), and headed first north through the outskirts of the city, and then east towards Kaya, a  village    the “Rough Guide”  advised us we would find some good Burkina leather work.We finally got out of Waga dodging the ever present scooters, bikes and cycles typical of the “French” African countries.

 Ouaga traffic Kaya and the grand statues!!

Despite a scenic drive to Kaya, and  a rather grand entrance,  the village was a massive disappointment, with the village market consisting almost solely of cheap Chinese imports. So we drove onwards, veering north on a good gravel road towards the northern  town of Ouahigouya.

As we drove northwards, there was evidence of much recent rainfall in the countryside, with shallow dams of muddy water being used as a welcome break from the heat by the local children.

Burkina laid back life.The passtime of the menThe working women whilst the men....REST?Kids having a jol

The fields were being ploughed, mainly by hand, and young fields of millet, beans and groundnuts were everywhere to be seen. There was even evidence of rice being grown in some of the flooded fields.Once again it appeared that the women and youngsters bore the brunt of the work, with the men folk taking it easy  all day! One of the "magic moments" of the trip was stopping in the middle of nowhere  in the shade of a tree ,smelling the freshest air  and having a freshly bought  baguette for lunch. The quietness is just so magic that you feel peaceful immediately.

 Lunch under the trees And village life

We reached Ouhigouya late in the afternoon, but after being shown the local hotels, decided to push on, as the town had a dirty look and feel to it as well as overprice accommodation. So we pushed on northwards on the deteriorating gravel road, stopping at the Burkina Faso border post, only to discover we had our first puncture of the trip, where a large rusted bolt had gone right through one of the back tires.

 Rice paddis

Although we managed to change the tire relatively easily, the heat was still oppressive, and the time spent meant we could not make the first Mali town of Koro for that night.  So instead we drove for another 20 minutes without finding the Mali border post, and then drove off the road into the  bush, where we set up camp for the night.


Despite the lateness, we were now far enough north to still have an hour’s sunlight, so Annaliese, still full of energy, decided to do some clothes’ washing!!. And so as Stewart put up the tent, rigged up some washing lines and got the fire going, Annaliese   proceeded to do  a weeks’ worth of washing.

 Washing "up" a storm I truly did !!!! Our campsite

That night , after a great meal of boerewors rolls and salad,  we were treated to a fast approaching electric storm, which had us quickly taking in the washing, and climbing into our tent – not a moment too soon, as the rain arrived with a vengeance, and continued all night.