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sub-Saharan Africa Topics specific to sub-Saharan Africa. (Includes all countries South of 17 degrees latitude)
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  #1  
Old 6 Jul 2011
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Unrest in Burkina Faso

I'm in Mali now heading for Togo via Burkina Faso. My understanding is there is a general curfue in Burkina from 7pm to 6am due to violent student and military demonstrations . Also read that violent crime, banditry, theft and muggings are rampant, especially around the border areas with Mali and Ivory Coast and travel in convoy is recommended.

Anyone been through Burkina lately or have current info? All suggestions will be appreciated. I'm travelling solo on a motorcycle.

My route is Mopti - Burkina border - N2 to Ouagadougou - N4 and N16 to Togo border.

Cheers
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  #2  
Old 7 Jul 2011
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I went by public bus from Segou to Bobo Dioulasso at the end of April. The next day further on to Ouagadougou. Two nights there before departure by Air Brussel back to Europe.

Point Afrique didn't allow me to change the ticket over to departure from Bamako or Niamey so I decided to take the chance. Because of clashes two weeks earlier the situation was a bit tense. Afterwards I can say that I didn't face any problem at all. Except a road block in the main road of Ouagadougou where soldiers started shooting up in the air. Just in front of me. Many people didn't respect the Curfew at 10 o'clock pm. The next two hours I still saw people walking, biking and driving in the middle of Ouagadougou. (I stayed inside the hotel).

I also heard about the increased risk of robbery at the countryside. I went by large public buses. Motorcycle makes it perhaps a bit more risky. At the same time, if you follow the main roads during daytime then you will be in the middle of many other travelers... You write "..-travel in convoy is recommended". I thought the situation has calmed down but if convoys are common now then my own experiences 10 weeks ago are outdated. Another way to minimize the risk is to go by bus from Mopti to Ouaga and place the motorcycle among the luggage. (Less traffic alongside N2 than N4 and 16 in the south, expesially the first part). Two motorcycles were in the bus when I left Segou. Good luck!
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  #3  
Old 7 Jul 2011
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Thanks for the advice Dabola. From other posts on other forums it seems that the situation in the major cities has calmed down but nowhere does anybody report on the countryside situation regarding the robberies and bandits. My info about the convoy recommendation is from the Australian Govt Website. I'm pretty sure it's not as common as showing up at the border and hooking up with the next convoy. If I cannot find another vehicle to travel with I might just tail a public bus.
I'm currently in Segou and was considering going straight to the border from here but decided Djenne and Mopti are also must see places in Mali, so I'm still heading to Mopti and from there to the Burkina border.
I did notice that some buses carry motorcycles on the roof but they are small mopeds. My bike is just too heavy and bulky to do the same.
If there are any other travellers going to Burkina I'd like to join you. My route and schedule are flexible.
Cheers for now
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  #4  
Old 7 Jul 2011
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You could equally say that Buses are more of a target - stop one vehicle and you get loads of people to fleece.

If the road is sealed you could just follow the bus, if the road is unsealed, forget it unless you like eating dust. Best of both worlds then.

When I was there in 2009 there was an alert out for hijackings and so forth, it is situation normal in BK, though the government was trying to stomp it out. The latest unrest has probably made it easier.

My advice would be to avoid the common tourist routes (ie: don't cross from Mopti/Dogon in Mali) and talk to the police at each checkpoint for advice. They are quite professional in BF, even with name tags! Then again, who has actually been robbed? Tourists or local mini buses etc??

Most importent of all is don't drive too early or too late in the day. Many of these 'bandits' are just pissed off locals/farmers who are starving, though you'll often hear they are Nigerians as everything is blamed on them.

The area around Banfora and Bobo is nice and the border crossing near Banfora/Bobo into Ghana and down to Wa and the Mole National Park is quite fun.

Good luck, keep your wits about you and you'll be fine unless you have luck like mine
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  #5  
Old 12 Jul 2011
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I crossed the Mali/Burkina border at the Faramana borderpost today (From Segou, Mali to Bobo, BF). There were also two large buses but no other overland vehicles.
The Mali as well as the BF police assured me that the road from the border to Bobo was safe. I followed one of the buses at first but the driver was a complete maniac, doing 120km/h through small towns with a 50km/h speed limit. Except for trying to keep up with the bus on a badly potholed road I never felt unsafe.
Over the 120km to Bobo there were two villages where there was clearly something happening with large crowds peacefully standing around and being watched by the army. Three army vehicles passed me at high speed and the soldiers were dressed in combat gear and rifles (one guy was even manning the mounted machine gun as if he was getting ready to shoot someone)....none of this seemed very threatening and I was waved through by all checkpoints and also by the army in the two villages where the crowds were standing around
I stopped on the side of the road for a drink and a sandwich and all the passing taxis, trucks, bicycles and pedestrians greeted me in passing.
I arrived in Bobo in the dark but everything seems quite normal, There are absolutely no signs of any unrest. All the BF people are very quick to tell me that there are no problems.
The Mali and BF officials are some of the most courteous, professional officials I've come across in Africa. It's nice to be able to deal with them without having to put ones guard up
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  #6  
Old 14 Jul 2011
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My experience is that travelling along or in a small group is safer than being a in a big convoy.

Apart from running into a 'live' shooting situation, traveling through even unstable areas on a bike is not at hairy as usually painted.
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  #7  
Old 18 Jul 2011
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When I left Bobo the next day I stayed on the main road to Ghana for a short while.......there were NO signs of any problems.
I left the asphalt road and spent the next three days on back roads and slept in small villages. I got caught in the rain three times (And man can it rain in Burkina this time of the year!). Twice I was invited into homes to escape the downpour. At night I would wander into the villages for food, and hopefully someone who could speak English. Everybody was friendly all the time.
There are absolutely NO problems in Burkina at the moment and it's a wonderful country to visit with very friendly people.
Seems like there are a lot of people and governments that exagerate negative situations for some reason......Governments I can understand, the others I can't. Cheers
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