1. Cultural atmosphere and local geography (language, ethnicities, characteristics)
Banfora is greener than Bobo – and of course is home to the infamous Cascades (actually about 10 km away from the city itself – but easily accessible by bike, taxi, etc.). French and Jula are spoken. Lots of sugar cane fields line the route as you come in from Bobo (a main crop in the area).
2. How to get there and away…
STMB, Rakieta, Sogebaf, TCV, and assorted taxi brousses all roll the Bobo/Banfora route. Rakieta has transport about every 2 hours in between the two cities (even numbered hours). STMB has more limited shuttles (8:00, 10:00, and 12:00 departs from Banfora and I believe 10:00, 12:00, and 16:00 departs from Bobo) but they are air-conditioned. TCV also runs each day at 6:00, 11:00, 15:00, and 18:00 from Banfora to Bobo and 7:30, 11:00, 15:00, and 18:00 from Bobo to Banfora. These are all airconditioned. SOGEBAF and taxi brousses are not recommended.
3. Places to stay
Hotel Canne a Sucre has rooms ranging from 5000 cfa (very basic, shared bathroom-style) per night to 49,000 cfa per night. They have nice, cool-temped bungalows priced at 10,000 cfa as well as a duplex apartment set in a garden with a very nice pool for 49,000 cfa a night ( sleeps approximately 6 people ). Hotel Comoe is also recommended. It is cheap (5000 cfa per night with another volunteer or 4000 on your own) and kind of out of the way but you have your own shower.
4. Post Office –
Hours are 7:30AM – 11:30AM and 3:00PM – 5:00PM.
5. Marche –
The Grand Marche is on Sundays – but all other days of the week there is a significant marche where you can get most anything.
6. Boutiques –
Ubiquitous. Supermarkets and Shops to note – Between the Alimentation across from the Marche and its super well stocked boutique neighbors, lots is available (eggs, flour, yogurt, fancy cookies, duracell batteries, etc…) There is a gas station shop on the road to Bobo as you leave town. Beauty products are available from a store next door to McDonalds (not the golden arches kind).
7. Restaurants –
McDonalds. Pretty darn fine food for pretty darn good prices (usually between 500 and 1500 cfa). Cold fruit juice, yogurt, brochettes, mashed potatoes, omelettes, fries, sandwiches, salads, and banana puree are all there. Service is good. The Calypso Restaurant is also recommended – more pricey (although cheaper African dishes are available) but with nice atmosphere. Restaurant de la Paix has comparable prices and selection to McDonalds but it’s not as recommended. The Maquis Djiguiya is also very good. Prices are comparable to Calypso. The Capitaine Filet, brochettes, and rice and sauce there come highly recommended. Delices is a bar near Sainte Terese Lycee and is known for its viande sauvage soups and chicken.
8. Internet –
One option is at L'Espace Internet across from Saint Terese Catholic School (kind of behind Rakieta Gare). This costs 1000 cfa/hour. There is also a Cyberposte next to the Poste that has a fairly quick connection that also costs 1000 cfa/hour.
9. Tailor –
One that has been used a few times with good results is just across the street from the gare to Sideradougou.
10. Recreational Activities –
There is a pool at Hotel Nebil that can be used by PC volunteers for 1000 cfa per day. The pool itself isn't bad but there is nowhere around the pool where you can sit or chill in the shade. A better option is the pool at Hotel Canne a Sucre. You can usually swim there if you are staying in a room there but it is officially a pool for the guests staying in apartments so you must ask permission. This is a better option as it will be free if you are allowed to use it and the atmosphere is pretty with lounge chairs available.
11. Near-by Tourist Sites –
Lake Tengrela (7km from town) fun to scan for hippos but you’ve got a 50/50 chance of actually seeing anything. The Cascades (10km from town) are definitely worth seeing but watch out for the faux types who will try to guide you. The Pics of Sindou (45km from town) are worth a trip, too, and you'll be able to have the local PC volunteer (currently Angelique Moss) show you around. The Domes are also another option that are not far from the Cascades. They are similar to the Pics of Sindou but much more accessible from Banfora. Also, a site similar to Dogon Country in Mali is located about 90 km from Banfora. The site is called Niansagoni. There is no direct transport to this village so you’ll either have to hire a car or bike out about 15 km from closest PC village of Loumana. Once there, a fairly easy hike is necessary to get to see the Dogon-esque site. You can camp on the mountain where you will be able to see and tour through preserved houses built in the 19th century. Definitely worth a look if you like active trips. If you need any info, you can contact the volunteer in Loumana, Lisa Backstrom.