Banfora, Burkina Faso

Photo: Marco Schmidt [1] (Own work (own foto)) [CC-BY-SA-2.5 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5)], via Wikimedia Commons
Photo: Marco Schmidt [1] (Own work (own foto)) [CC-BY-SA-2.5 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons
Your African tour has been focused on the wildlife. The amazing wildlife. You saw elephants and giraffes in Tanzania, lions in Zimbabwe, a leopard and rhinos in South Africa, and cheetahs in Namibia. Your photographs are going to be unbelievable. But now that you’re heading north, you’re looking forward to seeing more than just animals. Burkina Faso is a good place to begin.

Burkina Faso is a landlocked country in West Africa. It was known as Upper Volta by its French colonizers. The country gained its independence in 1960, but its name wasn’t changed until 1984, when one word from each of the country’s two major native languages were combined to create Burkina Faso. Though not a wealthy country, it’s one of the most stable places in the region.

You arrive in Banfora, the capital of the Comoé Province, in southwestern Burkina Faso. The country’s fourth-largest city was originally the land of the Karaboro people. The French created a military post when they arrived in 1903. It’s now known for its massive sugarcane industry and colorful outdoor market, still called the marché.

Photo: DamienHR [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Photo: DamienHR [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons
But these aren’t the reasons you’re here. Twelve kilometers north of the city, you pass sugarcane fields, twisted kapok trees, and shady mango trees to find the Cascades de Karfiguéla. Water from the Komoé River flows over layers of rocks into the pools below. Carefully climb up the side to look down at the rushing water. Wade in the shallow pools to cool off in the oppressive heat. Then buy a Castel Beer, from a guy hanging out by the rocks, when even that doesn’t help.

The Domes of Fabedougou are three kilometers north of the waterfalls. Water and erosion have sculpted limestone into dome-shaped hills over almost two billion years. Walk through the natural alleys in between the domes. Watch out for the small snake slithering over the rocks. Climb the hills for views over the domes and the surrounding sugarcane fields. And stay hydrated.

Before the sun starts to set, there’s one more spot you need to see. Lake Tengrela doesn’t seem particularly special when you first arrive. Cattle are grazing in the tall grass, birds are wading along the edge of the water, and waterlilies peacefully float in the breeze. You ride a semi-leaking pirogue just beyond the shoreline. Then the water starts to bubble, the waterlilies are pushed aside, and two huge eyes are staring at you. A hippo. Pretty soon, eyes are everywhere, and the little pirogue doesn’t seem quite as safe. But like you earlier, they’re just trying to cool off in the water. It looks like animals are unavoidable in Africa.

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