Tips on How to Spend a Day in Bobo Dioulasso in Burkina Faso
Bobo Dioulasso or simply Bobo is Burkina’s second largest city. Many travellers use Bobo as their principal Burkina’s destination. It has much more to offer than Burkina’s capital. Especially culturally and architecturally is incomparably richer than Ouaga. It is a charming place, with relaxed atmosphere, many cafés and restaurants, night clubs with all kinds of music. If you want to visit all the important sights in this city, the whole of the day you be busy. But carefully – in case you want to feel the night spirit of Bobo as well, make sure you will save some of your energy for the night with live-music.
If you have only one day and one night to spend in Bobo Dioulasso, better plan your day in advance, so don’t hesitate to read how to spend 24 hours in Bobo-Dioulasso!
Things to Do in Bobo Dioulasso During the Day
Bobo Dioulasso used to be Burkina Faso’s economic capital until Ouaga replaced it. Today, Bobo Dioulasso still remains an important business place. Vendors, guides and other touts are everywhere, but mostly, they are not cheeky or aggressive. When visiting any of Bobo’s main tourist attractions, your visit will be accompanied by local guides. It doesn’t mean you can’t see most of the attractions without a guide, but sometimes it is very difficult to get rid of them. To be honest, if you want to know more about the certain sight, a guide is the one who will serve you with information, so it doesn’t mean guides are totally unless in this case.
Visit Grande Mosquée
Grande Mosquée lies in Kibidoué district, near to the Place de la Révolution. The easiest way to get there is to take a (shared) city taxi or, once you reach the city centre, to take a walk.
An impressive mud mosque with wooden sticks and two tall minarets is most likely one of the biggest attractions in Burkina. The mosque was built in the late 19th century in typical Sudano -Sahelian style architecture. Materials used for building are solely natural: mud and wood. Plenty of horizontal sticks projecting from the building have two roles: they support the structure and are used as scaffold during the renovation, which is supposed to happen every year. In front of the mosque, there are few local guides that can give you a tour inside the mosque. Without a guide, one can’t enter the mosque! If you only want to see and photograph it from the outside, it is possible, but if you want to have a look from inside and walk to the rooftop, you will have to pay the entrance fee (1000 CFA + guide gift) and a guide will take you inside. Women are not asked to cover their hair when entering the mosque. It is worth entering the mosque and especially climb to the rooftop where you can see from closer the conic minarets.
Kibidwé is an old part of the city. Admission fee is, just as many others, 1000 CFA. Guided tour costs additional 2000 CFA (sometimes more) and is difficult to be avoided since local guides wait all around and don’t let you walk alone. This historical site is an interesting place to see. Mixture of Burkinabe people live there whic gives the neighbourhood a special spirit. It is divided into many quarters of different artisans such as blacksmiths, weavers etc. If lucky, you will be even shown how the local millet beer (chopolo) is made.
Grand Marché is located in the heart of Bobo Dioulasso and it is a place from where you can continue nearly everywhere in the city. It offers everything: from stinky fish to fragrant spices and from car parts to underwear. Even if you want to buy Burkinabe souvenirs or listen to traditional music, this is the right place. The place is abnormally crowded so don’t think you will go there for relaxing shopping.
But, don’t get me wrong, this place is a must see for sure! The mixture of all goods and services, fragrances, colours, music and people just makes the place very special and exciting. The market is divided into many sectors, but sooner or later you will get lost. Countless labyrinths of this huge place can easily make you get lost. Bear in mind that the hassle of “guides” is unavoidable, especially outside the market. Guides will insist on taking you around the market and vendors will insist on selling you their goods. Expect some offended looks and reactions if refusing the purchase, but otherwise it is always good to chat with vendors since Burkinabe are very kind and open to foreigners.
Musée de la Musique d’Hier et d’Aujourd’hui
This museum gives a visitor and interesting introduction to Burkinabe (or West African) music tradition. Similar to the one in Ouaga, but it does own even more instruments. Museum doesn’t offer only written descriptions, but also provides the audio and video presentations. Non-English speaking visitors will be a bit disappointed since all the descriptions are only in French.
Gare Routière – Railway Station
My last day in Bobo I was just wandering around the city. This city has a style and great atmosphere so it is easy to fall in love with. When I realised I don’t know where am I, I continued walking in hope to get back to the city centre, when I saw a beautiful pure white mosque-style building. This was gare routière, the main railway station (Sitarail). Also built in Sudano-Sahelian style and with a huge square in front, is in my opinion, the second most beautiful building in Bobo. Usually it doesn’t find a place in book guides, but if you are at least a bit keen on architecture, you should take a walk to the Bobo’s railway station.
Nightlife in Bobo Dioulasso
Nightlife in Bobo Dioulasso is, such as in Burkina’s capital, very rich. Many bars, night clubs, restaurants and other places offer live-music. Balafon orchestras, traditional (calabash) drummers and dancers, electric bands – all of them find a place in Burkina’s second largest city. But, certain places offer live-music only during weekends. The best way to find a right place at the certain day is to ask locals – they will know best which of plenty places offer the best performance on a specific day. Just in case, to mention a few of the most popular: Les Bambous, Macoumba, Le Samanké, Le Bois d’Ébène.
Did you enjoy this article? You might want to learn more about travel and backpacking in Burkina Faso and if traveling with kids to Burkina Faso, you will want to read how to explore Burkina Faso with kids