The roads in Burkina are a kind of mixed bag. Given that you may cross with more animals than cars on the roads, road traffic is really minimal. Roads between cities are asphalt and despite not that wide the asphalt is really good! But in many cases like the most of the road between Nazinga Ranch and Gaoua, or from Banfora to Sindou pics (this was the worst due to flood damage), the road is non asphalt (see additional photo) but in good condition as it was dry season. The only problem is the dust raised from the ground that it can give your hair a nice new brown look (not to mention skin and clothes)!
The main form of transportation in Burkina is buses. Though we toured around in car, I had the chance to see how local buses look like and I can tell that conditions exceed what you may imagine for an african country. Being cheap it's certainly the best choise for those on a budget and having enough time. Unfortunately not all destinations can be covered (like Nazinga Ranch)
As we had limited time in Burkina (around 6 days) and we wanted to see as much as possible, we chose the most expensive way to tour around. We rented a 4X4 car with driver from guesthouse Maison Azaaba in Ouaga. The cost was almost 85€ per day excluding petrol which was around 0.95€ per litre. Our driver Sory was the best driver we could ever imagine. Careful, having loads of patience, with great sense of humor despite my french was so poor that communication was limited.
Getting to Burkina is limited with Paris being its main getway. Few airlines fly to Ouaga and apart from their national carier (air Burkina), Air France is the most reliable and definitely the most expensive choice. It costed a bit less than 1,100€ Athens-Paris-Ouaga R/T. Despite wishing to experience the services of Air France, I found the price overall too expensive for my budget. Searching for alternatives I found Royal Air Maroc and a totally unknown to me airline called Afriqiyah, a Libyan based airline . The later had a tempting offer for less than 450€ for R/T from Rome (a total 690€ adding the R/T ticket to Rome)
I found the overall experience with Afriqiyah good: on board service was about average (far better food on return flight) but better than Aegean alirways or Alitalia (on Athens-Rome sector). The airplane from Tripoli to Ouaga was a new airbus with IFE offering movies and music but alas no headphones!! I only encountered two problems: My suitcase never arrived in Ouaga (heaven knowns what happened, but this happens with Air france as well) and there was departure delay in the sector Tripoli-Ouaga in both ways (45-55 min). Luckily no delay caused problems in connecting flights.
Transfering in Tripoli is interesting experience though the airport is nothing to mention of except of the exceptionally cheap prices for cigarettes at the duty free!!
During our first entrance into the country, we crossed by the rarely used Hamale border in the Upper West Region of Ghana. The road from Wa to Hamale is intermittently paved and has a reputation for being flooded, but the minivan transport that we used was quite good, and the driver efficiently in brought us to the border without delay. Sitting in the front seats, we listened to Reggae music most of the way. Originally, I had sought among locals a route from Wa over the Volta River boat with the hope that waiting on the other side would be a vehicle direct to Gaoua, in Burkina Faso. Villagers do cross the river, but we needed our passports stamped at an office. The river has no border crossings, so visitors must pass through the town of Hamale. Hired help moved our luggage across the border, getting exit stamped first by Ghana officials, and then we walked across the sandy no-man's land toward the Burkina passport office, perhaps a distance of nearly a 1/2 mile. Along this stretch, a rainstorm pounded us. The Burkina Faso passport office was a concrete and corrugated metal roof structure, barren of any comforts except an old wooden desk and the officer's chair, which the officer offered me. The Burkina Faso official was cordial, inviting us to wait out the storm, so we stayed with a group, watching the rain assault the landscape. When the rain stopped long enough for us to brave the distance into town, our group continued. The town on the Burkina Faso side had a bus station office and curb stop, a place to change currency, which I did, and little more. We paid our labor, purchased our tickets, and waited another 2 hrs for the bus to arrive. One fellow spoke excellent English, and without being too pushy, helped us manage affairs. Thus, other than the rain, and the delay in waiting for our transportation to Gaoua, this was an easy border crossing. We were the only tourists that entire day.
We had been expecting the roads to be miserable in Burkina Faso, since the country is even poorer than Ghana, a bordering country which had spotty pavement right up to the border at Hama. The rain and dirt streets at the border crossing wasn't much encouragement. However the main highway between Ouaga and Bobo was new, and we rode all the way to both Gaoua and Banfora on respectible pavement. The quality of the new highway was like a veneer of asphalt over dirt, but it was a smooth as glass in places, which helps speed the service and keep it comfortable. Bus service in Burkina is quite good and cheap in general, and Burkina Faso border officials don't harass bus riders as much as do similar officials in Mali. We personally were never hassled, but sometimes another rider with insufficient ID or something could delay the bus a bit.
These are certainly not powerful motorcycles, but they are scooters that will get a person around. In Bobo Dioulasso, Banfora, and Gaoua, the central market area had motorcycle for sale and rent. If you have a guide, he may do the bargaining for you, but it should be cheap, cheap, cheap. Otherwise, bargain like crazy, and make sure the seat is adjusted to your height before leaving. Breakdowns are not uncommon, as my guide and I had one out in the middle of nowhere. He nearly freaked-out as he feared that bandits might come to harass us. I was pretty confident that nobody was around, and if they were, there was little but plastic and my camera to steal from me anyways. I think he was mostly afraid of losing the scooter. As it turned out, we found an engineer and his crew working on a bridge, and we were able to talk them into giving us and the scooter into town. It was a bumpy ride in the back of a pickup with the workers, but all was well and we soon had the scooter repaired. Again, costs are variable, but the price should be surprisingly low. Be careful about the guide who makes promises to bring a scooter and then wastes hours as he argues with a friend over a broken scooter. Also, time spent filling up the tank can be extra time wasted, so try to get one with a full tank. Our guide in Gaoua was a special hassle with this and numerous other problems, including drinking and driving with my wife on the back. Mostly it's good fun, and expect the scooter to take two people of average size and weight. Although the person on the back may be sitting on the rack or fender.
it is easy to get around Ouga as their are numerous Taxi's. They are un metered so get a price BEFORE getting in the taxi (ask the hotel staff what should be the price). The hardest part about getting around is the incedible smog from the unleaded gas and multitude of moblets (mopeds).
In Ouagadougou especially, you'll find that taxis are probably the most common way for visitors to get around. There is usually a knot of elderly cars outside any hotel popular with foreign travelers, and when you leave the next driver in line may offer his services.
You'll invariably have to negotiate a price to your destination. At first, it's difficult to know what's a fair price, but try and ask some other visitors what the prevailing prices are, and if you feel the price is too high, don't be afraid to negotiate. If you really don't like the price, walk away: if the driver won't come down, then it's likely that you're not going to do better than that. Usually, though, that's the cue for a sudden drop in price.
You may find the driver stopping for additional passengers along the way; that's normal around here, unless you specify that you want the cab to yourself (in which case, the asking price is higher, and you have to accept that).
Make sure to talk to your driver: they always know what's going on, and often offer good tips for things to do.
The first time I travelled to Burkina, I flew directly from Europe. I didn't have much holiday time, so it was a good but very expensive option.
If I went back again, however, I think I would do again what I did the second time, which was to fly to Accra, Ghana and take the bus up. It's generally much cheaper to fly to Accra as far more airlines cover that route.
The bus journey is very long, but you can take a week and break the journey up with stops in towns like Kumasi (which is fascinating) or Tamale. On the way back, I took the bus directly, which was exhausting, but by then I had already discovered a nice place to stay in Accra so I simply crawled into bed on arrival!
The only real option for distance travel is to get the bus.
There are rickety local buses and occasionally, on the major routes, air-conditioned buses. Although few locals can afford the latter, I think it's worth paying extra at least some of the time since it's so hot and exhausting to be in a bus for hours on end. The only downside to the expensive buses is that you are less likely to encounter chatty people, climbing aboard laden down with everything from corn to chickens!
A lot of the time, the option to go on an expensive bus doesn't exist anyway: I took a seven-hour trip on one bus with only a few windows and where we all arrived totally covered in fine red dust! Make sure to either buy a face mask or wind something over your nose and mouth, because you'll be coughing for days if you inhale lots of this dust.
If you are travelling on to Ghana, it is much cheaper to take the journey in stages, then straight through with the STC bus. It cost us less than half by taking a STMB bus to the border, and then picking up share taxis and tro-tros on the Ghanaian side
By road from Djenne (Mali) to Bobo, approx. 6-7 hours.
There are flights doing the Paris-Bamako-Ouagadougou route (Air France) and also with Sabena i think. From North America, Air Afrique flies from N-Y to Dakkar, end local companies can bring you to Ouagadougou.
To go to the Gaoua region, try to use a 4x4. The dirt roads were just awful and with our minibus, we suffered a couple of flat tires (we even had to have a new tire sent by bus from Bobo). As if this was not enough, the wheel even broke and needed welding. If travelling on your own, there are busses every day that go from Bobo to Gaoua.
From Gaoua to Ouaga will take you a good 7 hours, mostly on a very bad and dusty dirt road. Quite an experience. Make sure you can have access to a shower afterwards!
I came to Burkina Faso by taxi all the way from Cotonou in Benin. We paid a taxidriver there to drive us all this long way. Cant remember how much it was but it wasnt terrible expensive.
In Burkina Faso I went around by train, bus, minibus, bush taxi and ordinary taxi...
PHOTO: HERE I AM WITH THE TAXIDRIVER WHILE TAKING A REST IN SOUTHERN BURKINA FASO.
By train: from Abidjan (Ivory Coast), a lovely trip via Bobo Dioulasso.
By air: the international airport is in Ouagadougou, tha capital. Frequent connections to/from Paris. Ethiopian Airlines runs the only inter-african connection, linking Dakar to Addis Ababa, with a stop in Ouaga.
Taxi-brousse, that is the overloaded taxies
01 Bp 1603 Ouaga 01, OUAGADOUGOU, Burkina Faso, 01
Satisfaction: Very Good
Good for: Families
I stayed at 4 hotels in Ouagadougou. If this was a review by Goldilocks, I would say this hotel is...more
Ave de la Liberté, Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso
Good for: Business