Burkina Faso is a landlocked nation in West Africa and one of the poorer countries in the area. Fortunately, tourism infrastructure and development of the industry has progressed noticeably in recent years, giving the country a measure of hope for its future prospects. The main draw of Burkina Faso is its wildlife in the central interiors, but the culture and traditions of its nomadic populations also provide some measure of appeal to tourists.
Burkina Faso is bordered by Mali in the north and west, Niger in the northeast, and Cote d’Ivoire, Togo, Benin, and Ghana in the south. Much of the country consists of low plateaus that are streamed by three rivers: the Black Volta, Red Volta, and White Volta, which all drain south into the Volta River in Ghana. Savannah grasslands that are dry and scrubby cover almost the entire country, although the south is more wet and wooded. The south also features more rounded hills and clumps of trees. In the east and southwest, low mountain ranges color the scene.
Wildlife viewing is Burkina Faso’s main draw. There are several national parks and reserves, including the ‘W’ National Park, Kabore Tembi, and Arli; you’ll find elephants, monkeys, giraffes, crocodiles, and other animal life. The Ranch de Nazinga is another game reserve; it has a large population of elephants, baboons, antelopes, warthogs, and monkeys. At Sabou, you can view crocodiles close-up. There are also many tour groups operating out of Ouagadougou that take visitors north of Pabre or north of Ouagadougou to artificial lakes and reservoirs where more wildlife can be viewed.
Burkina Faso has a few notable natural features. Southwest of Bobo Dioulasso is the Karfiguela Waterfalls, which is located about three miles away from the town of Banfora. Also nearby is Sindou, where the awe-inspiring Sindou Rock Formations can be seen.
There are great places to hike in Burkina Faso, particularly in the southwest part of Burkina Faso near Banfora. This region has excellent views of the Banfora Escarpment. Other hiking areas include the Senoufo region west of Banfora and the Lobi region around Gaoua. The Bobo Dioulasso and the Nazinga Ranch areas provide terrain suited for mountain biking.
To learn more about Mossi culture and history, the capital of Burkina Faso, Ouagadougou, is the place to go. The Ethnography Museum there contains a rich collection of artifacts from the ancient kingdoms.
You can experience the traditions and ceremonies of the Moro-Naba by visiting the Moro-Naba Palace on Friday mornings when costumes and drums parade the venue. A traditional drama called “the Emperor goes to war” is performed depicting the emperor being restrained by his wife from going to war with his brother. On festivals and holidays, the Moro-Naba Palace is also the scene of traditional music and dance.
The climate is warm year-round in Burkina Faso. From late May to October, heavy rains pour in producing lush grass. Drought hits from November to May, a period during which the harmattan blows in from the Sahara. The rivers, vegetation, and crops end up drying from the dust particles.
Burkina Faso was originally inhabited primarily by the Busansi. Around 11th century AD, strange men known as Dagomba horsmen from the south arrived onto the scene. They moved into Burkina Faso’s south and married Busansi women, producing the Mossi ethnic group. The Mossi went on to found Tenkodogo, one of many other great Mossi kingdoms that would follow. For hundreds of years, the Mossi ruled all of present-day Burkina Faso.
In 1886, the Germans entered Burkina Faso. They were followed by the British and French. In 1893, the French successfully colonized the area and brought the Mossi and other peoples under one administration. They started cotton plantations.
In 1960, Burkina Faso was granted full independence. A number of military coups took place during the 1970s and 1980s. The last successful coup was in 1987 by Captain Blaise Compaore who has remained president ever since.