With some reluctance we dragged
ourselves away form our homely haven and drove towards the Burkina
Today was the day for amusing sightings on the road.
We saw for ourselves the infamous ‘chicken man’ with 60+ live
chickens hanging everywhere off his motorbike. We saw a local bus
with two huge, live cows on the roof. How did they get there - your
guess is as good as ours. We saw motorcyclists with live goats
lying on their laps and a donkey on a car roof rack.
One thing is evident, neither Mali nor Burkina Faso have much
refrigeration as it is clearly necessary to transport your wares
alive until the very last moment. This also overrides any concern
for the animal’s well-being. I can’t help but feel for the chicken
who ends his life hanging upside down, tied to his friends, going
at 70 km/h along a Malian road. Not sure, according to EU
guidelines, whether or not this counts as free-range.
The border crossing was a breeze. For this reason alone, we love
Burkina Faso already.
We found our campsite in Bobo-Dioulasso and were happy to bump
into Salym again – one of our friends that we met at The Sleeping
Camel. Salym is from Columbia originally but now lives in Jo'burg.
Unfortunately, I was feeling pretty
rough today with a thick cold and zero energy, so our tour of Bobo
didn't materialise. Neil was impressive, though, as he headed off
solo on a bike into town to find a replacement silicon gun, and
succeeded. Not bad with very little French.
Neil did some
maintenance jobs while I rested and enjoyed the company of other
travellers for the rest of the day. We have arranged to take a
Canadian friend – Tess – with us to visit the area around Banfora.
It will be fun to have our first passenger.
After a trip into Bobo to get the most
exciting groceries we have had for a while – fresh meat, fresh
yogurt, amazing fruit and veg, we had a challenge to face. How
could we fit five passengers plus their stuff into our four-seater
Never fear, anything is possible in Africa. Salym and Nico (who
we met at Casa Africa) wanted a lift to a village about 10km along
the road we would be driving to get to Banfora. There was an annual
Catholic festival taking place at this village and a local had
invited them along. We managed to get them in but by the time we
reached the village, Nico, an Irishman, had given up on being
squashed and found himself a comfortable spot on the roof-rack. Did
any of the policemen we passed seem phased? They didn’t even bat an
The festival turned out to be an interesting interlude in our
day. There were hundreds, possibly thousands, of locals swarming
around an area which was filled predominantly with people selling
food and drink. A few posters and a large crucifix gave away that
it had a religious element.
We continued on our way with Tess to Tengrela Lake, near Banfora
and found an adorable little campement just a short walk from the
In the evening we had our first braai of the trip, on a fire
made from wood we collected. It was absolutely delicious and
certainly something we’ll be repeating as often as possible.
We got up at 5.45am to take a boat trip on the lake, timed to watch
the sun rise and to catch a sighting of the resident hippos.
The sun rise was stunningly beautiful, reflected in the water
and it was such a treat to be able to steal these cool moments
before the heat of the day set in. We saw two hippos, or the noses
of two hippos, popping lazily in and out of the water and we got up
quite close in our little wooden boat. Quite magical.
Still early, we set off to our next destination – the Sindou
Peaks. These are a set of eerily beautiful rock formations. We
spent the afternoon asleep in hammocks under trees (the art of
draping oneself is exceptionally easy to adopt) and then walked
through the Peaks with a guide when the heat of the sun started to
We are really enjoying hanging out with Tess and have been
spending the evenings preparing and eating delicious food using as
many fresh local products as we can find – which are all perfectly
ripe and ridiculously cheap. Heaven.
We feel as though each place we stay
is more and more in the spirit of Africa. More often, people are
choosing to sleep under trees, on simple mattresses or hammocks,
covered in mosquito nets. Showers have been replaced with huge vats
of water collected by local women and buckets for washing. The
campements are hubs of activity: family groups sitting and making
food, women collecting water, men constructing new huts, children
plodding around and chickens and donkeys making their presence
Today we saw our last beautiful spot in this area – The
Kerfuegla Waterfalls. We spent the afternoon lazing by the natural
pools, walking over the rocks and dipping in the water – a welcome
relief from the heat.
Another great meal and good chats this evening. These few days
have really felt like a holiday from the more crazy sides of
Today we drove back to Bobo and on to
Boromo – on the road to Ougadougou. It was nice to be back in Bobo,
if only briefly, where we felt well-oriented and knew where to get
all the food we wanted. The thing about this trip is that by the
time you have figured out where to buy everything it’s normally
time to move on and start from scratch in the next place.
next stop was the Parc National des Deux Bales where we hope to
spot some elephants. We found another cute, clean and friendly
campement nearby, built a fire and had another delicious braai, gin
and tonics and some amazing chocolate treats made my Tess. Having a
passenger is certainly meaning that we all eat very well.
We shared the evening with the resident donkey, who was tied
about 5m from our tent. Stuff composting. Buy a donkey. He had a
field day with all our left-overs.
We were at the park by 7am for our
guided search for elephants. We drove and then walked through the
forest and bush and along the river to try and find the elusive
animals. To no avail. Although, after four hours, we were sad not
to have seen them, we had thoroughly enjoyed our early morning walk
and we were also glad that the animals are still free enough to be
able to elude even an experienced guide. We saw very fresh
footprints in the sand – even their wrinkly skin and toes were
clear – broken branches and freshly fallen leaves, which we
evidence of their recent transit and lots of "fresh" dung. It was
fascinating to see how the guide spotted all these signs.
a failed elephant hunt in the wilds of Africa than an animal in a
cage any day.
We drove on to Ougadougou in the afternoon. Worth a visiting
simply because it has the coolest name of any capital city in the
Neil is starting to feel under the weather now, so we will stop
here for a few days and then take the easier road due south into
A great relaxing day in our hotel car
park. This is one of those situations which seems slightly too good
to be true. This expensive hotel lets overlanders camp in their
large and reasonably attractive car park, for free. What is more,
we can also use the wifi and the swimming pool for free. The
expectation is only that you spend some money in the bar or
restaurant. Win/win I say.
Not much to report. Just a few days of
relaxing and recovering for Neil is now not feeling well at all.
Must be a very serious case of man-flu. By the end of it he was
well rested and we were ready to tackle the road down to Ghana.