Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Banfora and south west Burkina

So then, just two weeks remaining in West Africa and there’s little point in racing around for one week in Burkina and the same for another week in Togo or Benin (tempting as it is) which would leave me understanding little of either. If you drew a diagonal line across Burkina from Gorom Gorom in the north east you’d cross Banfora in the very south west of the country. It’s a quiet place in the heart of some lush countryside and perfect to spend some days unwinding as there are three or four sights within easy reach. There’s also a hotel there with a dorm which, due to the fact that it’s low season, is ostensibly a single room with a different bed for me to sleep in each night that I stay there should I wish to do so. To explore the surrounding area I get myself on a scooter which is initially nerve-wracking as I haven’t sat on one since Vietnam. It isn’t difficult finding wheels especially when the guy who rents them follows me every millimetre of the 1.5km from the bus station to the hotel. Surprisingly I still haven’t worked out the French for ‘Fuck off’ but in this case I don’t think that it would have worked anyway.
Two of Banfora’s biggest attractions are the Karfiguéla waterfalls and the Domes de Fabedougou which sit conveniently side by side. There’s nothing convenient about getting to them though especially when the Lonely Planet directions there send you in completely the wrong direction leaving me to ask 20 people for directions - it was at least 20 - until I find what I’m looking for. The waterfalls are unspectacular as it’s the height of the dry season though you can easily see how stunning they might appear during the wet season. The beauty of the Domes however leave nothing to the imagination. The necessary geological terms elude me to describe them accurately so in layman‘s terms if you can imagine gigantic cow turds made of limestone scattered for miles around then you‘re almost there. Beautiful place.
Sindou Peaks however is where all the action is. On the day I visit I’ve got the place all to myself and I feel like a child who’s been left behind because they got the head count wrong at a play centre. Though the approach to the peaks is impressive it’s only once you clamber into the heart of the area that you appreciate how incredible the landscape is. There are peaks everywhere you look, many of them offering themselves up as challenging but achievable climbs and I spend three to four hours there walking around, giddily looking for the next scramble. I climb to one of the highest peaks around, enjoy a little picnic and ring my niece who’s worried she won’t get out on to the bouncy castle for her Communion day. You can walk for hours here deeper and deeper into the park area and climb for as long and as high as you wish. It’s a remarkable place. It is a 100km round trip there on the scooter - I’m standing as I type this - but Sindou, for me, is the jewel in Burkina’s crown.

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