I took a trip from Lagos to Ouagadougou by road earlier in the year and while I barely have pictures to show for it because of a lost phone. I still decided to put this up for someone out there who is thinking of heading out to Ouagadougou in Burkina Faso. I am about to to be petty but I would like to give a little tutorial to those who do not speak French (Yes I am Bilingual and Proud :D, err trilingual if you add my native language ) and who would usually murder the pronunciation. Ouagadougou is pronounced in English as ‘Wagadugu’. No point tying to pronounce the O and the U.
Done with the pronunciation class and moving on, while researching on the route to my destination, the most useful although albeit incredibly lengthy and funny information I saw online was that in this blogpost. The pastor had taken the Abuja – Sokoto – Niamey – Ouagadougou route and I was definitely having none of that. Few weeks before heading out, I had been to Cotonou so I used the opportunity to make findings. I found out there was a bus in Cotonou that heads to Ouagadougou through Lome daily and that was it. I got a ticket and returned home to get ready.
How to Travel to Burkina Faso From Nigeria
On a Friday Afternoon, I headed out to Cotonou through my normal route here. It would turn out to be the longest it had ever taken me to get to Cotonou. It was the rainy season and the roads were terrible. There was traffic heading out of Lagos. I think being a Friday, a lot of people were heading out and the road was crazy. I was scheduled to leave Cotonou for Ouagadougou on a 10PM bus. After leaving the traffic behind, then came a lot of check point as this route is known for.
After this came a bit of harassment by the NDLEA. So I was travelling with a box and a backpack and although I explained to them that I was on the verge on missing my bus to Ouagadougou they were having none of it. I mean, do I look like a drug peddler, do I look like I will move contraband or engage in any illicit activity? But then you never know so I guess they were doing their jobs although I felt picked on as other people walked casually with bigger and heavier goods and luggage. This experience was however better than being asked for my laptop’s receipt on my way back to Lagos.
I got into Cotonou at about 10:30PM and yes I missed my bus, I guess bus transporters in Cotonou are not part of Africa 😕 . I wondered if they hadn’t heard of African Time and couldn’t just delay the bus a bit for the the missing passenger. Anyways, I stayed the night in Cotonou, dropped off my stuff at a friends place and spent the night at a really nice bar called Code Bar which I really recommend if you are ever in Cotonou.
The next morning, I headed to the bus park, paid an extra 6,000 FCFA to reschedule my TCV bus ticket and returned at night, this time, I was on time. What I did not know was that, I was about to begin the longest bus trip of my life. We set out from the bus park at Cotonou, we crossed the Hilacondji Border (Cotonou Lome) after about 4hrs with a bit of drama and delay. I was asked for money and I was obviously not giving any. I had dinner of the plainest Jollof spaghetti ever and egg at the TCV bus park in Lome where we picked up more passengers. After a slight heart attack when I returned to look for the bus only to find that It wasn’t where I left it, we continued our trip. The bus had gone to get some fuel.
I got on the bus and off we went. The trip from the bus station to the Cinkasse border (Togo -Burkina Faso) took forever and to top it all, we were not allowed out just like other buses that had arrived before us when we finally got there. There were elections going on in Togo and the land border was closed till elections were over. That was the beginning of the longest 12hrs of my life in dust and in heat. It was also a spaghetti filled day. I had no other options. Actually I did, they just didn’t look good enough. Again, I had been asked for money to be stamped out. I told them I had no money, I was not a trader but simply a french student in Nigeria. My passport was held onto. I had all the time in the world.
Lets say I was overconfident. Unlike the Nigerian Immigration who will not stamp your passport unless you had paid, the francophones would stamp then ask for money. They don’t expect a revolt. My passport was held on to and since I had most of the day, I simply sat there. I was there when their boss came in to check and supervise what was going on. I made a gesture to approach him and discuss what was going on but I was signaled to stop by one of the officers. I had won. I was handed my passport after the boss left. They obviously didn’t want any troubles. If push comes to shove, I could maybe pay the immigration officers to be granted entry into a country if I had no choice and did not want to delay other passengers however, I would never pay to be stamped out. That will be a detention without any cause and I was sure the officers knew better.
After the election was over at about 6pm, we were let go, we got to the other side of the border and the ritual repeated itself. I was let go without a blink this time, I guess because there were too many people at the border and they really had no time for delays. I got into Ouagadougou at about 11pm where I got picked up from the Bus park. Surprisingly, my Cotonou sim card worked for the duration of my trip. I wasn’t sure how or why but it did. The bus had charging outlet so I had enough juice for the entire trip.
Benin to Burkina Faso costed me 25,000FCFA . The trip from Lagos to Ouagadougou by road would take about 30hrs all things being equal. TSR is another transport company that does this route.