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Burkina Faso travel guide

About Burkina Faso

On the face of it you can see why Burkina Faso lacks mainstream appeal: a landlocked West African nation with rowdy neighbours, this country has a harsh climate, unforgiving geography and an infrastructure few would want to be at the mercy of. Set piece attractions are also lacking.

Yet Burkina Faso remains an enthralling destination for intrepid travellers, thanks to its wonderful inhabitants and dramatic landscapes. As such, the country, though not frequently visited, is a fine place in which to immerse yourself in West African culture.

Meaning “land of the honest people,” Burkina Faso proudly proclaims to be one of the friendliest countries in Africa – and visitors are sure of a warm welcome. Burkinabé, as the people of Burkina Faso are known, are the exact opposite of the harsh land that they inhabit – and it is these cordial and courteous people who make coming here such a joy.

Burkina Faso’s traditional cultures are best sampled in its two largest cities: the fabulously named capital, Ouagadougou (also known as “Ouaga”) and the second city of Bobo-Dioolasso (simply referred to as “Bobo”).

Both have large communities of artists, particularly Ouagadougou, which is famed for its music scene. The art and architecture of the capital are also worthy of attention, with several largescale sculptures enlivening the streets.

Away from the cities, Burkina Faso’s four national parks harbour a surprising diversity of wildlife. If you can’t explore them all, then do make a beeline for Arli, which is home a wide range of ecosystems and is an important habitat for West Africa’s last big cats and elephants. Hippos, monkeys and various exotic bird species also call this national park home.

Burkina Faso might not suit first time travellers, but for hardy adventurers this is a destination in which to veer off the tourist trail and discover the hidden gems of West Africa.

Key facts


274,200 sq km (105,870 sq miles).


18,633,725 (UN estimate 2016).

Population density:

69 per sq km.




Parliamentary republic.

Head of state:

President Paul-Henri Sandaogo Damiba since 2022, was overthrown by Capt. Ibrahim Traoré in September 2022.

Head of government:

Prime Minister Albert Ouedraogo since 2022.


Travel Advice

The Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) provides advice about risks of travel to help British nationals make informed decisions. Find out more about FCDO travel advice.

Areas where FCDO advises against travel

Your travel insurance could be invalidated if you travel against FCDO advice.

FCDO advises against all travel to Burkina Faso, except to the capital, Ouagadougou.

FCDO advises against all but essential travel to Ouagadougou, up to the toll booths on all roads out of the city.

This is due to the threat of terrorist attacks and terrorist kidnap, and the unstable political situation in the country.

Find out more about why FCDO advises against travel.

Security situation in Burkina Faso 

The security situation in Burkina Faso has deteriorated significantly in recent years and remains volatile. The political situation also remains unstable following the military coup on 30 September 2022. Further coups are possible. If you choose to travel to Burkina Faso, you should remain vigilant and monitor local media.

Limited consular support 

There is no British Embassy in Burkina Faso and all consular support is provided from the British Embassy in Accra, Ghana. They cannot provide in-person assistance.

If there is serious violence, unrest or a deterioration in the security situation, it could be difficult to leave safely. Do not rely on the British government to evacuate you as they may not be able to do so. Have your own plans on how you would leave the country, make sure you keep all travel documentation up to date and monitor the local situation.

Before you travel

No travel can be guaranteed safe. Read all the advice in this guide and any specific travel advice that applies to you:

Follow and contact FCDO travel on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. You can also sign up to get email notifications when this advice is updated. 

Travel insurance

If you choose to travel, research your destinations and get appropriate travel insurance. Insurance should cover your itinerary, planned activities and expenses in an emergency.

This advice reflects the UK government’s understanding of current rules for people travelling on a full ‘British citizen’ passport from the UK, for the most common types of travel.

The authorities in Burkina Faso set and enforce entry rules. If you’re not sure how these requirements apply to you, contact the Embassy of Burkina Faso in Brussels.

COVID-19 rules

There are no COVID-19 testing or vaccination requirements for travellers entering Burkina Faso.

Passport validity requirements

Your passport must be valid for the duration of your stay and have 2 blank pages for entry stamps.

Check with your travel provider that your passport and other travel documents meet requirements. Renew your passport if you need to.

You will be denied entry if you do not have a valid travel document or try to use a passport that has been reported lost or stolen.

Visa requirements

You must have a visa to enter Burkina Faso.

Applying for a visa

If you live in the UK, apply for a visa online or through the Embassy of Burkina Faso in Brussels. You cannot get a visa for Burkina Faso in the UK.

There are Burkinabe embassies in the West Africa region, including in Accra and Abidjan.

Vaccine requirements

To pass border control in Burkina Faso, you must have a certificate to prove you’ve had a yellow fever vaccination, due to a risk of yellow fever transmission.

For more details about health entry requirements and recommended vaccinations see TravelHealthPro’s Burkina Faso guide.


There is a high threat of terrorist attack globally affecting UK interests and British nationals, including from groups and individuals who view the UK and British nationals as targets. Stay aware of your surroundings at all times.

UK Counter Terrorism Policing has information and advice on staying safe abroad and what to do in the event of a terrorist attack. Find out how to reduce your risk from terrorism while abroad.

Terrorism in Burkina Faso

Terrorists are very likely to try to carry out attacks in Burkina Faso.  

There is a high threat from terrorism throughout the country, including in the capital, Ouagadougou. The main threat is from Al-Qaida affiliated and other regional Islamist groups. These include Jamaat Nusrat al-Islam wal Muslimeen (JNIM) and Islamic State Greater Sahara (ISGS), who operate throughout Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso.

Terrorist attacks could be indiscriminate, including in places frequented by foreign nationals, such as:

  • diplomatic premises
  • conference centres
  • tourist sites
  • sporting and cultural events including music festivals
  • shopping centres
  • transport hubs
  • religious sites and places of worship, particularly churches
  • national parks and nature reserves
  • foreign, national or local government buildings
  • large crowds

Stay aware of your surroundings, keep up to date with local media reports and follow the advice of the local authorities. Be more alert during election periods, festivals, and religious and public holiday periods.

Security is limited outside the capital, Ouagadougou. There have been regular terrorist attacks on police, military personnel and civilians, particularly close to the borders with Mali, Niger and Côte d’Ivoire and in the eastern region.

Previous significant attacks include:

  • in 2022, over 100 people were killed in a terrorist attack in Seno Province, close to the border with Niger
  • in 2021, over 160 people were killed in an attack on the village of Solhan in north-eastern Burkina Faso
  • in 2021, one Irish national and 2 Spanish nationals were killed in an ambush on the PK 60 road between Fada-N’Gourma and Pama
  • in 2020, around 50 people were killed in 3 separate attacks in the eastern Kompienga region, and in the northern provinces of Sanmatenga and Loroum – one where an unidentified gunmen opened fire at a cattle market
  • in 2019, 42 people were killed following a terrorist attack at a military outpost in northern Soum province, close to the border with Mali
  • in 2019, at least 14 people were killed after gunmen opened fire inside a church in Hantoukoura, eastern Burkina Faso
  • in 2019, 37 civilians were killed and 60 injured following an attack on a convoy carrying workers to a Canadian gold mine near Boungou, in eastern Burkina Faso

Terrorist kidnap 

There’s a very high threat of terrorist kidnap in Burkina Faso.

British nationals are seen as legitimate targets, including tourists, humanitarian aid workers, journalists and business travellers. If you are kidnapped, the reason for your presence is unlikely to protect you or secure your safe release.  

Westerners have been kidnapped and killed in Burkina Faso and remote areas of neighbouring countries.

Recent kidnap incidents include:

  • in 2022, a Polish national was kidnapped in north-eastern Burkina Faso and released 2 months later
  • in 2022, a US national was kidnapped in Yalgo in north-eastern Burkina Faso and later released
  • in 2019, a Canadian citizen was kidnapped near Gayeri in the Est region and found dead near the Niger border 2 days later

The long-standing policy of the British government is not to make substantive concessions to hostage takers. The British government considers that paying ransoms and releasing prisoners builds the capability of terrorist groups and finances their activities. This can, in turn, increase the risk of further hostage-taking. The Terrorism Act (2000) makes payments to terrorists illegal.  

Political situation

The security situation in Burkina Faso has deteriorated significantly in recent years and remains volatile.  

A transitional government took control in Burkina Faso following a coup in 2022. The political situation remains unstable, and further coups are possible.

The government has declared a state of emergency in the regions of:

  • Centre-Est
  • Est
  • Centre Nord
  • Nord
  • Boucle du Mouhoun
  • Sahel
  • Hauts-Bassins
  • Cascades

The measure gives security forces extra powers to conduct searches, restrict freedom of movement and detain persons of interest. Some civil rights may be suspended, including the right to protest and to hold large meetings. The military takeover in neighbouring Niger in 2023 may lead to unrest or protests in Ouagadougou.

Protests are common in Burkina Faso. Avoid political rallies, gatherings and demonstrations. Crowds can gather quickly and may become violent. Foreign, national and local government facilities have been targeted and damaged in previous demonstrations.

Monitor the local news to help you avoid such gatherings. If you become aware of a crowd gathering, leave the area immediately.


Vehicle crime

There is an increasing number of vehicle hold-ups on roads outside Ouagadougou. Drivers that refuse to stop when flagged down have been shot at.

Armed groups have also stopped drivers to rob passengers and their vehicles. Criminals have stopped public buses to assault and rob passengers, particularly at night.

Street crime

Street crime is a serious risk for foreign visitors. Most incidents are opportunist snatches of purses, wallets, jewellery and other valuables. Thieves are particularly active near the UN Circle and the former Central Market in Ouagadougou, and are often armed. Do not carry valuables in public places or walk alone at night.

Laws and cultural differences

Personal ID

Always carry your passport or residence permit.


Ramadan is a holy month for Muslims. The dates vary by year and country. In 2024, Ramadan is expected to take place in Burkina Faso from 10 March to 9 April. During this time, do not:

  • eat, drink, smoke or chew gum in public in the daytime, including in your car
  • play loud music or dance
  • swear in public

Get more advice when you arrive from your tour guide, hotel or business contacts.

Illegal drugs and prison sentences

Do not get involved in drugs of any kind. If you’re convicted of possessing or distributing any illegal drug, you can expect heavy fines and long jail sentences. Local prison conditions are harsh.

Using cameras and filmmaking

Do not take pictures of military or other government installations.  

LGBT+ travellers

Same-sex sexual activity is legal in Burkina Faso, though social attitudes towards LGBT+ people can be discriminatory.

Read more advice for LGBT+ travellers.


There are strict customs regulations about taking cultural objects like masks, religious materials and antiquities out of Burkina Faso. If you’re unsure about buying any souvenirs you find for sale, contact the Ministry of Culture.


A few of the larger hotels and restaurants in Ouagadougou accept credit cards. You’re unlikely to be able to use them anywhere outside the capital. There are a few ATMs in Ouagadougou, but they only accept Visa cards.

The best option is to bring US dollars in cash to exchange.

Transport risks

Road travel

If you’re planning to drive in Burkina Faso, see information on driving abroad.

Get security advice about travelling by road anywhere outside Ouagadougou.

You can use a UK photocard driving licence to drive in Burkina Faso. If you still have a paper driving licence, you may need to update it to a photocard licence or get the 1949 version of the international driving permit (IDP).

Roads, even if they are paved, are in a poor state of repair. Road conditions off the main roads are often difficult, especially in the rainy season from June to October. Vehicles are often in poor condition.

Avoid travelling at night, even if using a local driver. Roads have very limited lighting, and vehicles often have no headlights. Livestock, pedestrians and motorbikes on the roads are additional hazards.

Using secure vehicles

If you decide to travel outside the capital against FCDO advice, get professional security advice. There is danger of armed attacks on all roads, but especially:

  • from Ouagadougou to Bobo-Dioulasso
  • from Bobo-Dioulasso to Côte d’Ivoire
  • from Fada to Benin and Togo
  • to Benin, Bogandée and Gayeri
  • to Niger

Stay on clearly marked roads or tracks and avoid minor roads unless travelling in convoy. There is limited access to phone networks, so consider taking a satellite phone in case you break down or have another emergency. Always carry drinking water with you.

Extreme weather and natural disasters

The rainy season normally runs from June to October. Torrential rains can cause floods and landslides. Monitor local weather reports and expect difficulties when travelling to affected areas during this season.

Find out what you can do to prepare for and respond to extreme weather and natural hazards.

Before you travel check that:

  • your destination can provide the healthcare you may need
  • you have appropriate travel insurance for local treatment or unexpected medical evacuation

This is particularly important if you have a health condition or are pregnant.

Emergency medical number

Call 18 from Ouagadougou and ask for an ambulance.

Outside Ouagadougou, call the universal emergency number 112.

If you get no response, you will need to get local advice about the closest hospital and how to get to it.

Contact your insurance company quickly if you’re referred to a medical facility for treatment.

Check TravelHealthPro’s current advice on Burkina Faso to find out how to reduce the health risks you’ll face there, inclulding:

  • yellow fever
  • Zika virus
  • dengue and malaria

TravelHealthPro also lists the recommended vaccines that could apply to you. At least 8 weeks before you travel, check how to get vaccines and whether you have to pay on the NHS travel vaccinations page.


The legal status and regulation of some medicines prescribed or bought in the UK can be different in other countries.

Read best practice when travelling with medicines on TravelHealthPro.

The NHS has information on whether you can take your medicine abroad.

Healthcare facilities in Burkina Faso

Medical facilities in Burkina Faso are very limited. For serious medical treatment, evacuation to Europe is necessary. Make sure you have adequate travel health insurance and accessible funds to cover the cost of any medical treatment abroad and medical evacuation.

FCDO has a list of medical providers in Burkina Faso where some staff will speak English.

Travel and mental health

Read FCDO guidance on travel and mental health. There is also mental health guidance on TravelHealthPro.

The Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) cannot provide tailored advice for individual trips. Read this travel advice and carry out your own research before deciding whether to travel.

Emergency services in Ouagadougou

Ambulance: 18

Fire: 18

Police: 17

Outside Ouagadougou, the emergency services are unlikely to respond.

Take local advice instead.

Contact your travel provider and insurer

Contact your travel provider and your insurer if you are involved in a serious incident or emergency abroad. They will tell you if they can help and what you need to do.

Refunds and changes to travel

For refunds or changes to travel, contact your travel provider. You may also be able to make a claim through insurance. However, insurers usually require you to talk to your travel provider first.

Find out more about changing or cancelling travel plans, including:

  • where to get advice if you are in a dispute with a provider
  • how to access previous versions of travel advice to support a claim

Support from FCDO

FCDO has guidance on staying safe and what to do if you need help or support abroad, including:

Contacting FCDO

Follow and contact FCDO travel on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. You can also sign up to sign up to get email notifications when this travel advice is updated.

You can also contact FCDO online.

Help abroad in an emergency

If you’re in Burkina Faso and you need emergency help from the UK government, contact the British Embassy in Accra, Ghana, who provide consular assistance for Burkina Faso.

FCDO in London

You can call FCDO in London if you need urgent help because something has happened to a friend or relative abroad.

Telephone: 020 7008 5000 (24 hours)

Find out about call charges

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