Transport in Burkina Faso: How to Get Around Safely

Western Africa is not an easy place to travel, and the roads, rail and general public transport in Burkina Faso doesn't make the situation any easier when it comes to getting around.

Dusty train tracks in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso Photo © Getty Images/Luca Prestia

Reliable public transport isn't easy to find here, which makes getting around the country challenging. 

Like elsewhere in West Africa, when you are trying to get around there are a number of risks to consider.

Exercise caution on Burkina Faso's roads

If you do decide to take on the roads of Burkina Faso, make sure you exercise extreme caution.

Aside from the bad conditions your face when driving, bandits and thieves are a common threat for anyone traveling around. Keep your windows rolled up, doors locked, and never leave anything on the back seat of your car while it's parked.

Burkina Faso's road hazards

Several major urban and intercity roads are paved, but elsewhere across the country, paved roads are not easy to find.

Despite being paved they are plagued by huge potholes and can be very narrow. Some of the so-called "potholes" are more like small craters, which will put a quick end to your road trip.

Driving across Burkina Faso also requires special attention. Other drivers using the road can be extremely careless and it's not uncommon for head-on collisions.

So stay alert and be ready for anything.

And while other drivers will always add some problems on the road, there are various obstacles you'll need to watch out for.

Broken-down vehicles are usually abandoned on the road. Roadside assistance doesn't exist, so be prepared to avoid cars just left in traffic.

This sort of thing is common on rural roads. This coupled with poor conditions and stray livestock means roadways outside of the major cities can be a headache for any travelers.

At night, there is a high volume of truck traffic passing through the country and pedestrians, bicycles, and carts pose a major hazard on unlit, unmarked roads.

Do yourself a big favour, and when night does fall stay indoors. Night driving is advised against in most African countries.

The best advice take your time and watch out.

Limited emergency services in Burkina Faso

Police are never too far away to enforce road rules in most developed countries. But in Burkina Faso, don't expect to see police out in force.

Authorities rarely enforce traffic laws and are virtually absent from rural roads.

This means if you get into trouble, you are quite possibly on your own.

This goes for ambulance assistance as well. So don't rely on emergency services and help – you may be waiting a long time.

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