Burkina Faso is a small country in West Africa. It is landlocked and bordered by Mali, Niger, Benin, Togo, Ghana, and Cote d’Ivoire. A former French African republic, Burkina Faso used to be known as the Republic of Upper Volta, but was renamed in 1984 to mean “the land of the upright people” in the two most popular native languages, Mossi and Dioula. The capital of Burkina Faso is Ouagadougou, which is in the centre region of the country. The only other large city is Bobo Dioulasso. Both Ouagadougou and Bobo Dioulasso are serviced by international airports. Flights from cities such as Paris, Brussels, and Istanbul, as well as many other West African countries land at the Ouagadougou airport while the one in Bobo Dioulasso has flights to and from the Cote d’Ivoire and Ouagadougou only. Travellers interested in visiting this small country should be aware that from 2014 onwards, many state departments around the world consider it to be a very dangerous country for Westerners to visit.
The country’s climate is tropical, with only two major seasons. The rainy season lasts from May to September and is shorter in the north of the country. In the dry season, the harmattan - a dry wind from the Sahara - blows.
Burkina Faso is one of the most impoverished countries in the world. Its low GDP is based on a per capita income of only $1,300. Agriculture represents the biggest portion of the GDP, at 32%, and consists mostly of livestock. The economy is dominated by government-controlled corporations. Mining is another big industry in Burkina Faso; it is the fourth-largest gold producer in Africa. The currency is the West African CFA Franc.
Burkina Faso is also ranked as the most illiterate country in Africa. It is, however, an incredible destination for anyone interested in African culture and music, very specifically drumming. Burkina Faso plays host to the International Arts and Crafts Fair, in Ouagadougou, better known by its French name, Le Salon International de L'Artisanat de Ouagadougou. It is considered one of the most important African artisan fairs in the world. Indigenous masks and dancing are two key elements of Burkinabe culture; travellers to Burkina Faso can experience both.
Ouagadougou is not just the capital, it is the liveliest city in the country. It is known for its arts, music, and festivals. Travellers in Burkina Faso in the spring (February to May) should look into attending a film or music festival. Budget accommodation can be found here in Ouaga (as the locals call it.) There are very, very few backpacker hostels in West Africa. Instead, consider a cheap hotel. Just be warned that in general, cheap hotels in WA might have little to no electricity, cold water only, or no water at all.
Bobo Dioulasso, the second largest city, is known for its grand mosque, an excellent example of mud brick architecture. The Le Grande Marche is a lively and colourful bazaar with anything you could possibly need or want. Backpacker accommodation can also be found here, again not in hostel form but in cheap hotels.
Once you have your accommodation sorted, begin to explore this fascinating country. Burkina Faso, and Africa in general, occupy a unique place in the world.
Hi, I'm Jakob Lombardi,
the Hostelz.com local expert for Burkina Faso hostels. Welcome.