Zinder Travel Guide

  • Car of the Sultan of Damagaram
    Car of the Sultan of Damagaram
    by Bonobo2005
  • The Old Birni Quarter, fascinating neighbourhood..
    The Old Birni Quarter, fascinating...
    by Bonobo2005
  • posing with deteriorating piece of relief design
    posing with deteriorating piece of...
    by Bonobo2005

Zinder Things to Do

  • The Regional Museum and fun with USAID...

    On Friday afternoon I eventually persuaded myself to visit the Regional museum. But it was the buvette on its premises that really took my attention... Long before I entered the nicely Hausa style decorated building that was called the Regional Museum, I felt I had to drink a cold beer first in the adjacent bar. It was still extremely hot at 4pm,...

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  • Local crafts and customs at the Grand...

    But the Grand Marché is especially charming because of the large numbers of local craftspeople that come to trade their decorated metal boxes, carved calabash bowls, clay jars, tanned leather works, woven baskets and whatsoever. You see huge piles of almost garbage that people make useful things of on the spot. In small rooms youngsters repair...

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  • Thursday Market day in Zinder

    Thursday is the big market day, one of the largest in Niger and a must see because of its interesting mix of people and products.You will find millet, (imported) rice and a reasonable selection of other durable farm products, and some oranges, but the main business in Zinder seems to be the imported manufactured goods and local crafts products,...

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  • Residence of Heinrich Barth

    You can visit the residence of the explorer Heinrich Barth who stayed in Zinder on his famous journey between Lake Chad and Timbuktu. The German Heinrich Barth, one of the most successful Sahara explorers ever, spent more than 5 years in the Sahara regions, during 1850-1855. By the end of November 1852 he had completed his mission from Tripoli to...

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  • Embossed relief design on houses

    The second style of decoration you will see are the facades with embossed designs. This is the more traditional method, that you don’t see anymore on more recently build houses. While the cellular design had been in hands of women, this relief design had once been the art of specialised guilds and therefore was more prestigious.

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  • Hausa architecture and decoration

    You can admire quite a lot of old and new houses in the Birni Quarter that are nicely decorated in typical Hausa style. Many of the street facades of the rectangular shaped mud brick houses are decorated. You see two styles. The more “recent” is the cellular design. The wall surface is divided in cells, and women carve the patterns out in the clay....

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  • The people of Birni Quarter

    I found the residents of the Birni Quarter sincerely kind, polite and easily approachable much more so than those in comparable areas of tourist town Agadez.I expected large numbers of children approaching me for “cadeau, cadeau” and yes, the countless children were asking a lot of attention, but surprisingly they didn’t beg (for other things than...

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  • A Stroll around Birni Quarter

    Mustafa and I strolled around the fascinating Birni Quarter, a maze of narrow, sandy streets and mud brick houses, many of them decorated according to Hausa tradition.No noisy cars here, but donkey carts and camel drivers that slow down the pace of life and contribute to the quiet and peaceful atmosphere. This neighbourhood is near the Sultans...

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  • The Old Birni Mosque and goodbye to the...

    While he refused me inside the Grand Mosque, he allowed me to take a quick look around the much older and smaller Mosque in front of it, that is used during the rest of the week. This fine mud brick Mosque dates from mid 19th century and has a fine white washed interior. Before we said goodbye, he wheedled me into giving some small tips to various...

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  • The Grand Mosque

    After the tour around the Palace, the Prince was now visibly fed up with me and refused me to show the new Grand Mosque at the opposite of the street, although we agreed upon it. He told me I did not have any permission to climb the tall minaret as the caretaker was not around and the Sultan busy. Moreover, the new Grand Mosque was only open on...

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  • Relic of the latest Act of War

    The entrance is marked by an enormous heavy wooden door, which is the latest victory of the (former) Sultan. Some decennia ago, the door belonged to a residency of a Chief from a nearby village who apparently rebelled against the Sultans supremacy. To show him “who had the real power” the Sultans Guards captured the ancient door that formed the...

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  • The Palace of the Sultan of Damagaram...

    We took a moto taxi and drove across the sandy streets to the Sultan’s residence. It was crowded on the square in front of the Palace, opposite the Grand Mosque. Men in long clownish coloured dresses guarded the reddish clay structure build in 1852. The two storey building was definitely beautifully polished, and very stylish and delicate but...

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  • Present Day Living Quarters of the...

    We descended again to end the tour at the present day living quarters of the Sultan. This area looked really well. Unfortunately the Sultan was just receiving important guests (yes, even more important than me…), so that it was not able to meet him personally. “Probably I bargained too hard”, I thought. But maybe he was really busy and are next...

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  • The Rooftop

    We climbed on the roof which offered superb views especially over the old town. A conglomeration of mostly square red mud brick structures, here and there a tree. To the north good views on the main courtyard, and over the minarets of the Grand Mosque that tower high above the Palace Roof.

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  • Up to the Second Floor

    Upstairs are yet more rooms such as the Sultan’s former living quarters, the room where he received guests, and another where he used to meet delegations of his Court. The rooms are empty so you need some imagination here. We traversed a system of gloomy corridors full of bats. The holes in the wall offered the Sultan and his family good views on...

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  • The messy part of the Palace

    Despite all the stories of the wealth of former Sultans, it struck me that much of the mid 19th century Palace is in quite a bad condition. Fortunately, the palace is restored these days (financed by the Libyan Colonel Khadaffi according to the Prince, but I have reason to assume that it’s coming from France) and indeed, some construction workers...

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  • The Room with Historical Items

    The guide opened a room that contained a number of interesting historical articles. Among them an enormous drum that in former days had to be transported by two camels to the battlefields, an antique Portuguese helmet, traditional decorated harnesses and items of imprisonment. It is the intention of the Sultan (and the French financers) to open a...

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  • The cells of death

    Behind several doors that face the courtyard, are rooms used for different kinds of punishment.The rooms that you were imprisoned reputedly contained poisonous snakes, deathly mosquitoes, scorpions and all such nice creatures. Another room was in use to keep prisoners of war, who were sold as slaves to European and Arabian traders who came by every...

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Zinder Transportation

  • Cheating officials at the Agadez buspark...

    In first instance it was quite unclear what all the men’s business on the Agadez Lorrypark in Zinder was about. Later I learned that these devote Muslims make good money by telling lies, cheating and ripping off illegal transit passengers on their way from Coastal countries (mainly Cameroon and Nigeria) to Libya (and hopefully Europe), everything...

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  • Crossing the border from Benin to Niger

    Just north of Malanville flows the impressively huge brown coloured Niger River, that forms the border between the three countries of Niger, Benin and Nigeria.I arrived at the border settlement of Malanville by shared taxi, which took 4 hours from Parakou (cost about EUR 5). Sitting on the back of a Yamaha motorbike taxi I continued from the lorry...

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  • The trip from Gaya to Birni ‘N Konni

    After 2 hours in the minivan, interrupted for a prayer session at a mosque, we reached Dosso on the main Niamey – Zinder road. Two hours waiting; just before dark we continued our journey to Zinder. Our driver raced like a madman, since the towns along the route are “locked” after 9pm and he wanted to reach the Nigerien/Nigerian frontier town of...

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Zinder Local Customs

  • Friday 1pm: masses go out to pray

    In a country with 95% Muslims, religion is a very important aspect of daily life in Niger including Zinder, that historically was a very strict Muslim State.During the 5 daily prayer sessions, most of the activity in Zinder comes to a halt. Bush taxi’s stop, shops and street stalls close, hundreds of litres fresh water are carried to the mosques....

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  • That Fort on top of the Hill

    A low hill covered with huge boulders and 2 structures arises from the centre of Zinder. While I wandered around there, I almost lost my camera!! During the 6 days I spent in Zinder, I was the only tourist. Which meant that I was Mustafa’s only potential source of income during that period and it was sometimes hard to say that I didn’t want his...

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  • Prayertime on the market

    Of course the market also counts several small mosques. Prayertime is prayertime, no matter where you are or what you do! So around these hours you will notice numerous boys pushing carts full of 25 litre water barrels to the market to serve the different mosques. Men wash hands, feet and face and not much after the rows between market stands are...

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Zinder Favorites

  • Have fun at the Stadium

    In Zinder I met two teenagers from Cameroon, who were, like 1000’s of others, on their way overland to Paradise Europe, and trying to make some money for the next leg. They took me to the Stadium.These nice fellows, convinced of having good chances of become a professional football player, already lost their passports to the police in Nigeria,...

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  • Camels in Zinder Centre

    Although not as important as more north towards the Sahara, camels are abundant and a popular way of transporting goods.Traders and farmers often come from far to bring their trade to the important market in Zinder. Donkeys and cows, the much cheaper alternatives for camels (or dromedaries), are less suitable for long distance travel in the heat....

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  • Visit Birni Quarter at least twice!

    I visited Birni Quarter on two mornings, one time accompanied, the second time alone. It turned out to be 2 different experiences, both highly enjoyable.During the first time with Mustafa the children kept more distance as we wandered around some of the “highlights”. The second time I went alone, just to meet the people, and to see how mad children...

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