Ouagadougou (pronounced: WA-ga-DOO-goo) is the capital of Burkina Faso and the nation's cultural & economic centre. Its name is informally shortened to Ouaga (pronounced: WA-ga).
The dominant ethnicity is Mossi (60%), but many other tribes are also represented (Samo, Gourounsi, Lobi, etc).
Languages spoken: French, Moore, some Jula (derivative of Bambara).
The primary language spoken by the general population is Moore. However, many merchants, shopkeepers, taxi drivers, and restaurant and hotel staff will speak at least some French. In the nicer parts of town, most people will speak excellent French. Some people will speak English, but if someone approaches you in that language, be careful - there's a good chance they might be a con-man.
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Its climate is classified as hot semi-arid (BSh) with the rainy season from June to September. Daytime temperatures are hot all the year, but are hottest from February to May.
Ouagadougou International Airport is the main gateway and is located to the immediate south of city centre, distance from the airport to the United Nations roundabout is less then two kilometres. The airport is quite small like many African airports somewhat disorganized. National carrier Air Burkina has flights most West African capitals as well as Paris, from where Air France also offers daily service. The other European capital with scheduled flights is Brussels via Brussels Airlines. Other popular connections includes East African cities of Nairobi and Addis Ababa.
A shared taxi, the green ones, to city centre should cost no more than XOF500, but be aware that many will ask for up to XOF1,000.
A twice weekly train operated by SITARAIL runs from the Ivorian capital Abidjan via Bobo-Dioulasso. First and second class carriages are avalible, the journey is supposed to take 36h but trains are often much delayed. Tickets are open for purchase a day before departure at the train station.
Ouagadougou's Gare de Centrale is located downtown just off Avenue de la Nation.
There are plenty of bus operators serving Ouagadougou but there's no central bus station, each operator has it's own depot.
Transport Confort Voyageurs, on Rue de la Mosquée is one of the largest bus companies in town with connections from most regional cities as well as the neighbouring capitals. Other operators includes STMB and SOTRAO.
Ouagadougou is serviced by two types of taxi: white and green. White taxis are rarer, more expensive, and exclusive. Green taxis are ubiquitous and of much lower quality, but are much cheaper to use. As there are no meters, all fees for all taxis are negotiated in advance, and you should not enter a taxi until you and the driver have agreed upon a price.
The small green taxi cabs should cost no more than XOF300 per person during the day for straight runs on main roads. Fees increase with distance or with departures from the main routes. Be prepared to share the cab with as many people as can be crammed in, or to pay a premium rate. Cabbies may attempt to charge foreigners far more. If you have a lot of baggage, expect to pay more as well.
Prices go up at night especially to the city center (centreville). You should never pay more than XOF1,500 per person, and this is negotiable if you have a lot of people in your group to share the cab.
Travel to and from the airport is always expensive, even if you are only going a short distance. Expect a minimum of XOF1,500, and do not be surprised at asking prices in excess of XOF5,000. Be firm, and you can negotiate the price considerably downward.
Although Ouagadougou is generally a very safe city, maintain the same caution that you would in any urban environment: only use green or white cabs, don't accept rides from drivers that appear to be drunk or who have cars that appear unsafe, and know that whites, obvious tourists, people with many bags, and people seeking rides at unusual hours are all at a higher risk of theft and other crimes.
- Grand Mosque of Ouagadougou.
- Ouagadougou Cathedral. Built by the French in the 1930s, it is one of the largest in western Africa. The architecture is reminiscent of a European romanesque basilica, but intentionally evokes the impression of incompleteness due to its two steeples of different height.
- National Museum (Musee National), Avenue du Musée national. Museum complex devoted to the many local cultures, but most of the buildings are empty. It is on the east end of the city and is open seven days a week.
- Museum of Music (Musée de la Musique de Ouagadougou). Exhibits all the musical instruments of Burkina Faso.
- Bangr Weogo park. Urban park in Zone du Bois (also called 'La Foret') has many trails for walking and running. It also has a small zoo inside (XOF100-200 for entrance) Bring binoculars to help you spot the crocodiles in the marsh near the bridge! The park is a natural preservation area and "sacred forest" dating from the pre-colonial era.
- L'Unité Pédagogique. Another notable park in Ouagadougou, shelters animals in a semi-free state. This botanic garden/biosphere system stretches over 8 hectares (20 acres) and also serves as a museum for the country's history.
- Garden of Ouaga-Loudun Friendship (Jardin de l'amitié Ouaga-Loudun). Green space that was renovated in 1996, is a symbol of the twin-city relationship between Ouagadougou and Loudun in France. It is situated in the centre of the city, near the "Nation Unies' crossroads".
- Naba Koom (In front of the railway station). Small garden with a statue depicting a woman handling a calabash to pour water. The 6m (20 ft) high statue faces the railway station, welcoming travellers into Ouaga. The place bears the name of an important chief in Burkina Faso’s history.
- La Place du Grand Lyon. Monument that reflects the relationship between Burkina Faso's capital and Lyon in France. Located near the French cultural Center George Melies and features
Outside city centre
- Musée de Manega. Also exhibits musical instruments of Burkina Faso, Mossi rifles and other cultural items. Located 55km (34 mi) northwest of the city
- Laongo (30km (19 mi) east of the city,). Features enormous granite slabs that were designed by various sculptors. The exhibit displays works of art from five continents.
- Cineburkina (50 32 03 28) and Cine Reale are more comfortable/safer movie theaters
- Café Zaka has live bands every night
- The Moro Naaba ceremony is every Friday morning at 07:15, 15min ceremony symbolizing a Mossi historical event (preparation for battle against a rival king that stole his amulets, but being persuaded to keep peace). Ouagadougou was founded in the 15th century and became the capital of the Mossi empire. The historical palace of the Moro Naaba is located in the middle of the city.
- French Cultural Centre, Proposes both local and imported concerts dance pieces and theatre. The bar/restaurant there is a popular meeting spot. It also features an air-conditioned library where you can read newspapers and magazines. Located on the same road as the main post office
- SIAO (International Art and Craft Festival) Africa's most prominent craft fair, it is held for 10 days in every even-numbered year. Artisans from all over Africa attend and sell their wares.
- Village Artisanal of Ouagadougou (VAO). This outdoor "shopping mall" of local arts and crafts is a gem. You can buy there from a huge selection with far less hassle than on the street. It also features a shady café in the courtyard.
- FESPACO. PanAfrican film festival. Africa's most prestigious film festival is held every two years in February and showcases some of the best movies from across the continent. Next one coming up in late February/March 2011.
- Central Market a major attraction, burned in 2003 and reconstructed in a modern style. New stands are opening up all around it, though, so it's still worth a visit, especially if you are buying textiles.
- Gounghin Market a fun place to explore, buy fabric and fruit
- Go to Marina Market (50 31 09 65) or Scimas downtown, near the grande mosque (same street, maybe three blocks apart) for all cheese, meat, ice cream, other needs (closed from 12 to 3).
- DIACFA- kind of behind SCIMAS, across from the Grande Marche. PAGES - downtown, somewhat near the grand poste
- Dune, a block up from ISO on lefty side of street, turn up dirt road, great Mauritanian tissue vendors next door;
- Anna's Fashion near Paradisio and Petrofa station
- Issaka (76 67 69 79) and Victor (70 25 18 57) make house calls
- Have had the best luck at ADC near Marina Market. Lotte Photo across from Scimas takes a bit longer, but also does a good enough job.
- ATMs for Visa cards are available. Banque Atlantique is the only bank linked to the Maestro/Mastercard network but its ATMs *only* take cards issued by Banque Atlantique.
Most larger cafés have food in the afternoons and evenings, but here are a few notables from the recommendations of Bobo Stage Goers and others:
- Café Zaka - somewhat expensive, downtown near Scimas supermarket, live music and cool craft shop inside)
- Gondwana (somewhat expensive, Zone du Bois, great atmosphere)
- La NASA - Vegan, cheap, near Pharmacie Sacré-Coeur
- La Colombe - Vegan, cheap, serves excellent tofu brochettes for XOF1,200. Logements, avenue Babanguida, porte n°974 - just before the Rond-point des Artistes and in front of the Stade de France (+226 60 36 24 70 / 78 62 77 12)
- La Mayer-somewhat expensive, near the Grand Cathedral) 50 30 70 87
- Le Verdoyant, Avenue Dimdolossom, ☎ . Somewhat expensive, near the Place de Nations Unites, serves excellent Lasagne, beware purse-snatchers and swindlers around the exit
- Les Pilliers -somewhat expensive, Zone du Bois) 50 36 19 52
- La Paillote (somewhat expensive, great pizza, delivers 50 31 87 34)
- The Belvedere (somewhat expensive, amazing pizza, Koulouba) 50 33 64 21
- Sindibal's (cheaper, downtown, delivers 50 30 58 74)
- Chez Simon (cheaper, Kwame N Krumah, near Jimmy's 50 33 21 46). Also International food - burgers, pizza etc.
- Veranda Lebanese and international. Opposite Chez Simon on Kwame N Krumah.
- Baratapas (cheaper, fun, homemade rum, near STMB gare)
- Restaurant du Chine (somewhat expensive, downtown)
- L'Orient- (Zone du Bois, on Babanguida towards the Route de Fada 50 36 15 01)
- Hamburger House (cheaper, delivers 50 34 54 41)
- ISO (cheaper, delivers 50 36 21 67)
- Showbiz (across the street from Hotel Splendid- great milkshakes)
- American Rec Center at the US embassy
- Le Jardin Bambou, (Route de Fada towards Zone du Bois, 50 31 35 14)
- Kim Son (cnr Kwame N'Krumah / Av de l'Aeroport) good but somewhat expensive
- Le Coq Bleu, Avenue Kwame NKrumah, ☎ . Expensive
- Le Vert Galant (In Ouaga 2000), ☎ . Wxpensive
- l'Eau Vive, Rue Du Nasser, ☎ . Somewhat expensive, run by Catholic nuns
Street food and snacks
All usually c. XOF250 CFA per plate on the street, depending on quantity or if there is meat: Rice and Beans (Benga), Rice and Sauce (Riz Sauce), To and sauce, Atteike, Spaghetti, Rice and tomato sauce (Riz Gras), Snacks- Peanuts and dates everywhere, semi-easy to find dried mangoes.
There are many bars.
- Music Hall (reasonable prices, often has a European crowd, somewhat near the grand post, towards the zone du bois)
- New Jack's (more expensive, great mirrors, across from Hotel Splendid)
- Cactus Bar (expensive, pool tables, European crowd, across from Hotel Splendid)
- Le Privé, Av Nelson Mandela. More expensive bar located in downtown.
- The Sahel (often has live music, great atmosphere, cheaper)
- Bar DeNiro (more expensive, pool tables)
- L'Axe (On Route de Fada). A favourite of Peace Corps volunteers and locals alike.
- Le Citadel (cheaper, local crowd)
- The New Acropoli, Zogona (just off the Circulaire near the Total Station, cheaper, local crowd)
- Paladium (cheaper, downtown, local crowd)
- Gazoum (local crowd, racy, always a big crowd, Babanguida)
- Cailcedrat (Near the Institut Africain de Management (African Institute of Management) in the Ouaga 2000 neighbourhood), ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. Guesthouse offering accommodation to individuals or groups. Cailcedrat has 10 pleasant bedrooms with standard amenities (single and double bedrooms with air-con/fan, TV, fridge and bathrooms. Free breakfast and internet service. CCTV and security men. Bicycles and cars available for rent. Airport pick up. €21-37.
- Pavillon Vert, quartier Dapoya, next to Point Afrique office
- Hotel Zamdogo, Zogona (50 30 10 69)
- "The Mission", FEME near the Meat Palace on the Route de Fada
- Ouaga Dream, Quiet and clean place close to the airport, English spoken by friendly owner and there's great food. It's at Rue 6.43, close to crossroads av Bassawarga and av De la Revolution
- Hotel Continental across from CineBurkina (50 30 43 60)
- SIL near Gare de l'Est on the Route de Fada, no drinking or smoking allowed in compound (50 36 48 51)
- CACS(Centre d'Acceuil et...): On the route de Fada.
- Pension Sarah Located in Cite An II, good place to meet fellow travellers, good food
- Splendid Hôtel, Avenue Kwame Nkrumah.
- Hotel Yibi, Avenue Kwame Nkrumah (Opposite Hotel Splendid). A good budget option. Rooms have air-con, Wi-Fi and TV. Nice cool pool and bar/restaurant.
- Mercure Silmande Ouagadougou Hotel, Route de Kaya BP 4733 (Zone du Bois, near the barrage), ☎ .
- Hotel Palm Beach, 10 Avenue Kwame Nkrumah, ☎ .
- Hotel Ricardo, Rue 23.02 (Near the barrage), ☎ .
- Azalaï Hôtel Indépendance. Surrounded by art/artifact vendors, also offers haircuts, pedicures, massages
- Iledeben. Somgande, near the barrage. Low cost for good comfort.
- Grande Post (Sonapost) downtown, right on the Place des Nations Unies (M-F 08:00-12:00, 15:00-17:00; Sa 08:00-12:00. No cash withdrawals on Saturdays). Other post offices seem to follow the Monday-Friday schedules, but possibly closed on Saturdays. (If you don't have a box, there is a man who packages things to be shipped for XOF500-1000. Coming in the entrance, ask at the desk on the right.) There are also post offices in Dassasgho at the corner of Charles de Gaulle and the Circulaire, and on Charles de Gaulle near the intersection with Babanguida, just down from Surface Alimentation.
- Dependable connections next to the grand post (across the street from the Verdoyant) and diagonal from Café Zaka (next to the fish market). *Hole in the wall places everywhere, just ask. XOF500-1,000 /hr.
Loads of touts, purse snatchers and faux types at the Grand Marche. Don't go without local assistance.
If you are a foreign woman, don't tell anyone (except trusted friends) where you are staying unless you want everyone you meet to show up at your hotel or home.
When travelling, take the STMB buses: they drive slowly, but safely. SOGEBAF has the most crashes.
- Canada, 586 Agostino Neto Street, ☎ , fax: +226 5031 1900, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. M-Th 08:00–13:00 & 14:00–17:00; F 08:00–13:30.
- British Honorary Consulate, Based at ICI, Initiatives Conseil International, Impasse Thévenoud, 330, Secteur 01, ☎ , fax: +226 5031 2543.
- United States.
BBC World Service radio broadcast in English and French in Ouagadougou on 99.2MHz FM.