Getting to know Ouagadougou
If you’re flying into Burkina Faso, you are going to arrive in it’s capital city Ouagadougou. I think the best approach to making the most of your time is to get stuck in as soon as possible! Here are my suggestions for 5 must do things.
1 Buy some material and get something made
The material here is colourful and bright, and it’s amazing that so many people wear it. Get involved and get yourself some material to make into a skirt, dress, shirt, anything is possible! You will see material shops everywhere. I went to a market close to where we’re staying to get mine.
The French word for the material is Pagne. I got a single one for 1000cfa (1.5 euro) and a triple one celebrating women’s day for 6000cfa (9 euro). This is more than enough to make a dress from. Material quality, pattern and cost will vary so ask someone for advice on where to look, or shop around!
Once you’ve managed to choose from the hundreds of cool patterns on offer you need to get something made. Again you’ll see loads of tailors around, but I would ask around for a good one. Start by asking people at the place you’re staying.
2 Drink in a roadside maquis
These are everywhere, you just need to pick one! You’ll know them by the plastic tables and chairs outside that line the roadside. It’s fun to go for a beer or a coke in the early evening and just watch the world go by. Brakina costs between 600 – 800 cfa (0.9 – 1.2 euro). The price rising according to the poshness of the place.
In some countries I’m a bit cautious about whether as a woman I’ll be looked down on for drinking in public. But here you need not worry, there’s loads of women doing it!
3 Meat on a stick
Again something you’ll see everywhere is brochettes of meat being grilled on the street. Grab some and munch away. The meat is varying quality, but once you find the place you love you can just keep going back. Expect to pay about 1000cfa (1.5 euro) for 10 sticks.
The real draw is the atmosphere. It’s fun to have a chat with the guys grilling away, and the other people having a quick bite to eat. And to be honest Burkina is about the people. The more you interact with them the more fun you’re going to have.
4 Go horse riding
We absolutely love horse riding. But only do it really when we go away because of the cost. Ouagadougou is not the cheapest place to do it, 2 hours is 12000cfa (18 euro)per person for 2 hours. However, we think it is worthwhile. It’s close to the city but the landscape you’ll ride through seems pretty remote.
We went with Cheval Mandingue about 30 minutes from the centre. The horses were beautiful, so calm and responded perfectly to our instructions. They were even pretty chilled when we flew our noisy drone above them.
They do organise much longer trips if that’s what you’re interested in. Trust me, there is nothing quite like galloping down wide dust roads on the edge of the desert!
5 Escape the city and go for a refreshing dip
Ouagadougou is hot and dusty, and it can take a few days to settle in. It certainly did for me this time! If you need a bit of an escape head to Le Grand Calao hotel. It’s just past Ouaga 2000, about 20 minutes out of town. A taxi there will cost you about 4000/5000cfa (6 – 7.50 euro).
We stayed there a few days so I don’t know the cost of just using the pool. But Maurice the owner is friendly and helpful, so just drop him an email or call.
We suggest going there for the day to jump in the pool and relax in the shade under trees or bougainvillea. We can also recommend the food, the meat brochette was a real winner. It’s expensive compared to the street, 2 pieces for 3000 cfa (4.5 euro). But it’s a lot more meat, good quality, and cooked to perfection, yum!
Mostly talk to people, smile and take it all in.
Chez Tess is a great place to stay in the city, check it out in this link