Things to do in
Troupes from across West Africa gather in Dedougou every two years to participate in Burkina Faso’s most vibrant celebration, FESTIMA (The Festival of Masks and the Arts) complete with dancing wooden masks, pounding percussion, storytelling contests and market stalls. As well as the impressive wooden masks, which represent animals and spirits, costumes can be made of grass, colourful fabrics, leaves and raffia, making for a hypnotic, swirling spectacle. The footwork is incredible!
West Africa is rarely associated with wildlife – but that’s all the more reason to enjoy it when you can. Nazinga Game Reserve is no Serengeti – but within its compact boundaries are around 800 elephants – as well as monkeys warthogs and 500 buffalo, and knowing you’re one of very few visitors ever to set foot here makes it all the more special. What’s more, income derived from tourism deters local villagers from poaching, and ensures the protection of this reserve.
Explore the culture. Burkina Faso is a brilliant mix of tradition and modernity. To the north, nomadic Tuaregs trade with Bella merchants, crossing the desert with camels as they have done for centuries; in the south, exquisite mud villages appear to rise up from the earth. Traditional music – wooden marimbas, the calabash-based kora – is still widely played, but in the music capital of Bobo-Dioulassou, it is fused with more modern sounds, and the live performances are not to be missed. Ouagadougou is the capital of African film, with government support for local filmmakers, and theatre is both contemporary and participatory – a uniquely Burkinabé experience.