Safety and Security Tips for Travelers to Burkina Faso

What travelers need to know about political tensions, terrorism, border dangers near Mali and Niger, violence and civil unrest in Burkina Faso.

House of the First Ancestor. Old town of Bobo-Dioulasso, Houet Province, south-western Burkina Faso Photo © Getty Images/Luis Dafos

For the few brave souls who do travel through West Africa, Burkina Faso has become a thoroughfare for overland travelers making their way from Mali to Ghana.

Burkina Faso is a destination you need to be cautious, where the local security situation is crumbling, and there is no end in sight.

The region of Western Africa has been a troubled spot for political tension for decades. Few can remember a peaceful time, and Burkina Faso is no different. While Burkina Faso has its fair share of tension and unrest, it is also a country with welcoming people, stunning landscapes and amazing culture.

This is what you need to know about security and politics.

Burkina Faso's political tensions

Burkina Faso's political tension is linked to political issues and government corruption. Protests occurred against the ruling party and upheavals involving the army generally set the tone of what violence may break out. Tensions have continued to heighten since a military coup by rebels associated with the now former president occurred in September 2015.

A presidential election was then held in November 2015, with a new president Roch Marc Christian Kabore being elected. Subsequently, arrest warrants were issued for the former present Blaise Compoare due his involvement with the military coup.

The nation's capital, Ouagadougou, remains relatively calm, but it's the smaller towns around the country that are an issue when we talk security.

Soldiers and police have been known to go on violent rampages in the country's north. 

It's these common spates of violence, which concern most Western governments. The danger of tourists becoming embroiled in some Burkina Faso breakdown is very real. So be warned.

Political demonstrations are occurring more frequently. These gatherings are becoming increasingly violent, with shootings, lootings and other crimes commonplace.

It's not uncommon for protests to end in deaths, so if you are in Burkina it's best to keep well away from political marches or demonstrations, especially when it's the military which is demonstrating.

With the security situation inside Burkina becoming less than appealing, a curfew has been put in place to try and protect the community.

Best to stay inside between 7pm and 6am - it's for your own safety. The last thing any traveler wants is to get mixed up on the wrong side of a curfew in West Africa.

Terrorism in Burkina Faso

Terrorism is also a real issue plaguing the country. Kidnapping by terrorist groups and attacks are feared, with most consulates advising against traveling to certain regions.

January 2016 saw a terrorist attack by Al-Qaeda linked gunmen on the Splendid Hotel in the capital, Ouagadougou which killed 30 people.

Kidnapping remains a threat in the northern Sahel border areas of the country and terrorists are known to operate in the porous border regions of the north, near Mali and Niger.

Several governments have gone as far as declaring the area north of Djibo to Dori and the city of Ouahigouya and surrounding area as off limits to all travelers.

These terror groups usually have loose links with al-Qaeda associates, so best to stay away from northern areas and border areas with Niger and Mali. Be smart and you will be safe.

Border dangers in Burkina Faso

Just a quick note to watch yourself if you are near the borders of Cote d'Ivoire (Ivory Coast). Recent upheaval in the country has meant border areas have become havens for refugees and bandits.

It is also recommended that you Do Not Travel to regions bordering Mali and Niger.

Some foreign governments have issued 'Reconsider Your Need to Travel' and 'Do Not Travel' warnings for several parts of Burkina Faso, so please check with your Government's travel advice before traveling to Burkina Faso.

Best to stay clear and enjoy Burkina Faso's interior.

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  • Len said

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