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Bobo Dioulasso Travel Blog

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Mosque in Bobo-Dioulasso, Burkina Faso
May 22, 2010
Hotel: Hotel l'Entente, Bobo-Dioulasso, Burkina Faso

The badly needed rains finally came during the night, beating against my window and leaking through onto the floor beside the bed. The rains helped to clear the dust out of the air but nothing about the heat, indeed it only made the humidity rise. This morning we were treated to a wonderful buffet breakfast at the hotel; bananas w/ mango and cinnamon, pancakes and French toast. Yum!

We had a tough decision today; I really wanted to visit Djenne, site of THE iconic mud mosque and a World Heritage site. It's about two hours west of Mopti but 30kms and a ferry ride off the main road, so involves some logistics with taxis, buses, etc. We could have hired a private taxi, but my friends were getting wary of spending money and wanted to push on towards Burkina Faso, getting a day ahead according to our original schedule.
We planned to catch a bus to the town of San, a crossroads at the road heading south to Burkina, then hopefully catch a bus or taxi to the border. We arrived at the bus station around 8AM, only to be immediately surrounded by touts. It's impossible to get the actual truth out of any of them, so we heard conflicting stories, yes there is a bus from San, or no, you must instead go to Bla on the main road from Bamako. The ticket sellers themselves are no help.

We bought tickets to San on a bus leaving 'right now'. Right now happened to be 30-minutes later, not too bad. The ride was smooth, passing puddles and fields flooded from the previous night. We came to the turnoff for Djenne but then passed it by, disappointed. The bus finally arrives in San just before noon and we get off.
. then the driver says no, you should go on to Bla. It's about a 100kms detour, at least 2-hrs extra travel and the road from Bla to Burkina supposedly goes through bandit territory! Decisions, decisions. San was a pretty small town, there were some minibuses there but we didn't see any private taxis. We decide to head on towards Bla and hope to catch a bus coming from Bamako.

As we approach the crossroads to Bla, we see a Bani transport bus heading south.. just missed that one. We get off at the crossroads, again immediately surrounded by touts. We bought tickets through to Bobo, another 7000 CFA, confusing the tout by passing money back and forth. The problem with ATMs in West Africa is they dispense 5000 or 10000 CFA notes; no one ever has change for these and it's been a constant shifting of money between my friends and I to keep our spending equal.
Koumi village, Burkina Faso

We don't have long to wait for the next bus to pass by; unfortunately for the tout it's not the company he works for.. a shouting match then ensues between the driver of the bus and the touts, I guess someone will miss their cut. We do get on the bus (that's a nice thing, seems you can use a ticket interchangeably between bus companies) and head off. We get to the next town, which apparently is where the bus we are on ends.. and have to get on yet another bus which is going all the way to Bobo.

We reach the border just as it's starting to get dark.. the border crossing takes awhile as the customs officers line us up and search our bags. At the Burkina Faso border, we needed to get a new visa; the 7-day visa granted at the Benin/Burkina border had expired the previous day.
There's three other people in front of us getting visas, we could be here awhile! Finally the officers just had us fill out a form and told us to extend our visa at the police station in Bobo, we wouldn't have to pay for a new visa (10,000 CFA)! That sounded like good news; the only problem was it Saturday night and most likely the visa office would not be open on Sunday.

We finally roll into Bobo quite late, nearly 9PM and another exhausting 12+ hr travel day. We catch a cab to the Hotel l'Entente, which was a nice basic hotel but a great location in the center of town.

May 23, 2010
Hotel: Hotel l'Entente, Bobo-Dioulasso, Burkina Faso

Our last week in West Africa begins.. we'd been on the road only two weeks but felt like we had been traveling for months! We decided to checkout the nearby mosque this morning before heading to the police station to extend our visas.
Juju altar
The mosque was just a few blocks north but we had to pick our way around the construction, many of the streets in Bobo were torn up for putting in new water/sewer lines. The mosque was quite scenic in the early morning light, one of the best ones we had seen so far.

The Gendarmerie station was close as well, we get there only to find out this wasn't the right place, we needed to go to the Surete office instead, back towards the center of town. We find the office only to learn that indeed, the guy with the stamp isn't here on Sundays. That put a crimp on our plans; we'd hoped to get our visas today then go to Banfora tomorrow.. this meant we would have to skip Banfora and spend two days around Bobo.

We walked to the train station, then back through the market to our hotel.
There were a couple of nearby villages the LP book recommended visiting; one of them had two-story adobe houses that sounded worth a visit. We bartered a cab for a few hours and set off.. this is where I wish my GPS was working as later we learned the driver actually went the wrong (well, long) way! The town of Koumi is southwest off the main road from Bobo but instead we headed west, then down a 13km dirt road.

The town was worth a visit, but you have to pay entrance fee, guide fee, camera fee, etc.and you're not supposed to take pictures of people. The village was animist, there were fetishes around the village coated in chicken feathers. Feathers for protection also surrounded the doors into most houses.
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Mosque in Bobo-Dioulasso, Burkina …
Mosque in Bobo-Dioulasso, Burkina…
Koumi village, Burkina Faso
Koumi village, Burkina Faso
Juju altar
Juju altar
Bobo Dioulasso
photo by: Saskia007