Southern Burkina Faso

BOROMO

Halfway between Ouagadougou and Bobo, Boromo serves as the gateway to the Pare National des Deux Bales. Although the main section of the park is some distance from town, there are several areas close to Boromo that are great places to see elephants. On the road to the national park, 7km from Boromo, is the well-run Campement Le Kaicedra (@ 76 6217 78; http://kalcedra. walka9.com/camp.htm; 2-/4-bed bungalow USS32/40, meals US$10). Accommodation is in bungalows by the river, where elephants come to drink. The staff can arrange guides (US$4), three-hour 4WD elephant safaris (US$60 per 4WD) or pirogue (traditional canoe) trips (US$2). They may even pick you up from the bus station in Boromo if you ask politely.

BOBO-DIOULASSO

pop 360,106

Bobo, as it's widely known, may be Burkina Faso's second-largest city, but it has a smalltown charm and its quiet tree-lined streets exude a languid, semitropical atmosphere that makes it a favourite rest stop for travellers. It has a thriving market, a fine mosque and a small popular quarter, Kibidwe, which is fascinating to roam around. There's also a lively music scene.

Information

Centre Culturel Français Henri Matisse ( I® 20 97

39 79; enr Ave Général de Gaulle & Ave de la Concorde; © 9am-12.30pm & 3-7pm Mon-Sat) A monthly programme of concerts and exhibitions. Emergency (I® 17,18)

Intelec Cyber Café (Ave Ouédraogo; per hr CFA300; © 8am-mldnlght)

Librairie Diacfa ( I® 20 97 10 19; Rue Joffre; © 8am-12.30pm & 3-6pm Mon-Fri, 8.30am-noon Sat)

Sights

Bobo's Grande Mosquée (admission to grounds CFA1000), built in 1893, is an outstanding example of Sahel-style mud architecture and is easily Bobo's stand-out sight. Although entry is forbidden for non-Muslims, it's the exterior that is so captivating, especially at sunset when the façade turns golden. A powerful sense of community life revolves around the mosque and much of it comes from Kibidwe, the oldest part of the city that straddles the river. Bobo-Dioulasso's centrepiece, the expansive Grand Marché, is Burkina's most atmospheric market.

The small but interesting Musée Provincial du Houët (Place de la Nation; admission US$2; ® 9am-12.30pm & 3-5.30pm Tue-Sat) showcases masks, statues and ceremonial dress from all over Burkina Faso, and there are full-scale examples of traditional buildings in the grounds.

Sleeping

Campement le Pacha ( @ 20 98 09 54; [email protected] hoo .fr; Rue Malherbe; camping per person/moto/car/campervan US$3/3/4/6, s/d from US58/16; (PI (g) ) The Franco Swiss-owned Campement le Pacha is arrayed around one of Bobo's prettiest courtyards, with a veritable forest of palms and potted plants. The rooms are among the nicest budget beds in Burkina Faso.

Le Zion ( g 78 86 27 25; [email protected]; r US$611) Some 5km south of the town centre, Le Zion offers simple, comfy rooms, live music, a shady mango tree, home-cooked meals, mobylette (moped) rental, an artisan's workshop, loads of advice on the surrounding area and a wonderfully chilled ambience. It can be difficult

BOBO-DIOULASSO

SIGHTS & ACTIVITIES

Grand Marché 5 C3

Grande Mosquée 6 D3

Musée Provincial du Houët 7 D5

Campement le Pacha 8 A4

Hôtel le Cocotier 9 D4

Hôtel les 2 Palmiers 10 B3

L'Auberge 11 B2

EATING BD

L'Auberge (see 11)

Le Sorbeti ère 12 C2

L'Eau Vive 13 B3

Restaurant Dan Kan 14 B3

DRINKING0

Bar-Restau rant Les Bambou 15 C4

La Con corde 16 D5

TRANSPORT

Air Burkina 17 A2

Gare de Mopti 18 C2

Moped (Mobylette) Rentals 19 C3

Rakieta Bus Station 20 B2

STMB Bus Station 21 D2

TCV Bus Station 22 C3

BOBO-DIOULASSO

SIGHTS & ACTIVITIES

Grand Marché 5 C3

Grande Mosquée 6 D3

Musée Provincial du Houët 7 D5

Campement le Pacha 8 A4

Hôtel le Cocotier 9 D4

Hôtel les 2 Palmiers 10 B3

L'Auberge 11 B2

to find, so call and staff will pick you up from the city centre.

Hotel le Cocotier (@ 70 75 90 09; Place de la Revolution; d with fan & without bathroom from US$9) This is Bobo's best budget hotel in the city centre, with a good mix of bare but tidy rooms (all with mosquito nets), friendly staff and a rooftop bar-terrace.

L'Auberge ( @ 20 97 17 67; [email protected]; Ave Ouédraogo; s/d/ste USS52/56/86; (g) l§) ) Bobo's best hotel, L'Auberge is a well-run place with large, comfortable rooms, many of which have balconies overlooking the good-sized pool and fragrant, palm-filled garden.

Hôtel les 2 Palmiers ( g 20 97 27 59; fax 20 97 76 45; off Rue Malherbe; d from US$58; IPI (gl ) This fine hotel has traditional masks in all the public spaces and the rooms are spacious, nicely decorated and quiet. The location is better than it looks on the map - an easy walk into town but on a nice quiet street.

Eating

Restaurant Dan Kan (Rue Malherbe; entrées & soups US$1.50-3, mains US$1-5; S 8.30am-3.30pm & 6-10.30pm) With agreeable outdoor (but covered) tables, very reasonable prices and a varied menu, Restaurant Dan Kan is an excellent deal. It's kept spotlessly clean and service is attentive.

L'Eau Vive (Rue Delafosse; mains US$4-8; S lunch & dinner Mon-Sat) Run by nuns, L'Eau Vive offers imaginative French cooking and a varied menu. Main dishes come with potatoes or vegetables, and the dining area offers a star-filled canopy of the night sky.

L'Auberge ( g 20 97 17 67; Ave Ouédraogo; 3-course menu US$10; S lunch & dinner) Far and away the best restaurant, with everything from sardine salads to crêpes and flourishes like fresh basil and a garlic-and-chive butter to accompany your entrecôte. If you've been on the road for a while, it will all taste like paradise.

La Sorbetière (Ave du Gouverneur Binger; ® 8am-10pm) Try this place for pastries and snacks.

Drinking & Entertainment

The popular quarter of Balomakoté, which is rich in traditional music, offers great music in small, unpretentious buvettes (small cafés that double up as drinking places), where you can drink chopolo, the local millet-based beer. Elsewhere, bars we like for a drink include Bar-Restaurant Les Bambou (Ave du Gouverneur Binger; admission US$1.10; S 6am-2.30pm&6pm-midnight Mon-Sat, 6pm-midnight Sun) and La Concorde (Ave Louveau).

Getting There & Away

The bus companies STMB ( §§ 20 97 08 78; Blvd de la Révolution) and TCV ( §§ 20 97 23 37; Rue Crozat) have the best buses to Ouagadougou (US$11, five hours), with five daily departures each. For getting around the southwest, Rakieta ( i§) 20 97 18 91; Ave Ouédraogo) is a good local company that has regular departures to Banfora (US$4, IVi hours, 10 daily) and Gaoua (US$7.50, around five hours, two daily).

Getting Around

To hire a bicycle, ask at your hotel or around the market. A reasonable rental price is US$3.75 per day. For a mobylette, expect to pay at least US$7.50 per day, and US$11 for a motorbike.

Shared taxis are plentiful and most trips within town cost US$0.40 to US$0.55. Prices increase after 10pm and luggage costs extra.

BANFORA

pop 60,288

Banfora is a dusty, sleepy little town in one of the more beautiful areas in Burkina Faso. As such, it serves as a good base for exploring the lush green surrounding countryside.

For the nicest beds in town, look no further than Hôtel la Canne à Sucre ( g 20 91 01 07; [email protected]; off Rue de la Poste; d with air-con US$34,4-bed apt US$89; (g) g ), an unexpected touch of class in Banfora with immaculate rooms and a super restaurant. The next best alternative is Hôtel le Comoé ( g 20 91 01 51; Rue de la Poste; d from US$13; (g)).

Banfora's other stand-out restaurant is McDonald (off Rue de la Préfecture; entrées US$1-2, mains mostly US$1-4; ® 7am-10pm Thu-Tue, 7am-1pm Wed), with enormous servings of brochettes (kebabs), fish, pasta and hamburgers.

Rakieta ( ® 20 91 03 07; Rue de la Poste) has regular departures for Bobo-Dioulasso (one way/ return US$2/4,1 Vi hours, 10 daily) and Gaoua (US$6, 3V2 hours, two daily). STMB ( §§ 2091 05 81; Rue de la Poste) also leaves five times daily for Bobo-Dioulasso.

AROUND BANFORA

Just 7km west of Banfora, Lac Tengréla (admission US$4) is home to a variety of birdlife and, if you're lucky, hippos. The admission price includes a pirogue trip.

Some 15km northwest of Banfora, Kar-figuéla Waterfalls (Cascades de Karf guéla; admission US$2) are reached through a magnificent avenue of mango trees.

The Sindou Peaks (Pics de Sindou; admission US$2) are a narrow, stunningly craggy chain that extends northwest from Banfora. The tortuous cones of these structures, sculpted and blasted by the elements, were left behind when the surrounding softer rocks eroded away. This area is ideal for a short steep stroll, a day hike or even a couple of days' trekking, for which you'll need to be self-sufficient.

GAOUA

Gaoua is a good base for exploring Lobi country, a region that's culturally distinct from the rest of the country. There's a vital

Sunday market and, if you like your music traditional and untainted, Gaoua has plenty of great boîtes (informal nightclubs) with live music. There's also the small Musée de Poni ( HI 20 87 01 69; admission US$2) devoted to Lobi culture.

Hôtel Hala (B120 87 01 21; d from US$18) is the town's only habitable hotel and, thankfully, it's a reasonable if unexciting place. It also serves excellent Lebanese fare. It's just outside of town on the road to Banfora.

Rakieta ( §?) 20 87 0218) has a twice-daily service to Bobo-Dioulasso (US$8, five hours) via Banfora (US$6, VA hours).

Tiébélé, 40km east of Pô via a dirt track, is a wonderful detour if you're travelling up from Ghana, but it's also well worth visiting from Ouagadougou. Set in the heart of the green, low-lying Gourounsi country, Tiébélé is famous for its colourful and fortress-like windowless traditional houses. Once a Gourounsi capital, Tiébélé has an exceptional chiefs compound (admission US$3), as well as other beautiful structures throughout the town.

Auberge Kunkolo ( @ 50 36 97 38,76 53 44 77; dm US$8, s/d with fan & without bathroom US$16/18) is French-run and is a wonderful Tiébélé haven.

From Ouagadougou, STMB has five daily buses to PÔ (US$4, three hours).

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