Cultural atmosphere and local geography
- Predominantly Mossi (and thus Mooré is predominantly spoken); this is the capital of the region known as Yatenga, which is (according to some) the “vrai” Mossi kingdom.
- The last census placed it as the fourth largest city in Burkina, but many claim that it has now surpassed Koudougou and is the third largest.
- There are Fulbe (Peuhl people), but like in most parts of the world where there are Peuhls, they are marginalized.
- Pretty dry and dusty, with a large barrage on north side of town.
- Last major city in Burkina for those traveling on to Mali, so tourist and commercant traffic is high .
How to get there and away
3000 CFA one way between Ouaga and Ouahigouya; 5500 CFA round trip
- STMB: Tel: 55.00.59, daily 6:45, 10:00, 14:00, and 18:00 (to and from Ouaga are the same times) Be sure to ask about their Carte de Fidelité which can be obtained in Ouaga and Ouahigouya. Ride 10 times (aller-retour counts as 2 trips) and get a free ride to anywhere that STMB buses travel.
- STAF: 55.02.51, daily 6:30, 13:30, and 17:30 (to and from Ouaga are the same times).
- SOGEBAF: 55.07.31, daily 6:00, 8:00, 10:00, 12:00, 14:00, 16:00, 18:00, and 20:00 (to and from Ouaga are the same times) Although they have many scheduled trips daily, they are consistently very late and undependable.
- STGF: 6:00 (Ouahigouya – Ouaga) and 14:00 (Ouaga – Ouahigouya)
- ZST: 7:30 (Ouahigouya – Ouaga) and 13:00 (Ouaga – Ouahigouya)
(Add area codes for phone numbers)
OHG can be approached from most directions and is also a hub for those traveling north to Mali. Check bus stations for times of departure and the rather large taxi brousse gare next to the SOGEBAF gare. This is the end of the paved road from Ouaga; the roads north to Mali, west to Tougan and Dedougou, and the road east to Djibo are all dirt
Places to stay
You may not stay at the Peace Corps regional office. It no longer exists, anyway.
- Hotel Coulibri: 55.07.87, 4700 CFA (PCV rate 4000), fans, pretty clean, mosquito nets, near former PCVL house.
- Hotel Dunia: 55.05.95, 6000 to 10000 CFA, nice people.
- Hotel Auberge: 55.06.40, 2000 CFA but dirty and a reputed brothel.
- Hotel de l’Amitie: 55.05.21, very large with a pool; rooms range in price from 5700 CFA (shower and bed) to 26500 CFA (Salon, refrigerator, complete bathroom, air conditioned, television).
Two large radio towers mark the spot on the southern part of town. Open M-F 7:30 – 12 and 15:00 – 17:00, Saturday 7:30 – 12. There is an internet café next door which is run by the post office (see below).
- Cyber Poste – open m-f 8-12 and 15:30-18:30, and sat 8-12 and 15-18; 250 CFA per 15 minutes; located in an adjoining building to the post office; connection speed is generally slow but varies depending on the day and time.
- Le Synagogue – open everyday 7-22; 250 CFA per 15 minutes; located next door to the SOGEBAF gare; connection speed not much different from that of the post office.
The BICIAB bank along the main route has a 24-hour ATM machine that is not especially dependable but does work.
Relatively large but laid-back atmosphere in the middle of town. Its proximity to Ouaga provides a good variety of typical marché fare. The faux type factor is low, meaning that merchants’ starting prices are generally more reasonable than in Ouaga and Bobo. There is a large vegetable market with a good selection of seasonal produce. The marché closes on Friday afternoon but the vegetable market is open after hours
There are typical boutiques on every block and more substantial ones surrounding the marché, but look on the paved road through town for gas station shops and larger alimentations offering tuna, cookies, jelly, oatmeal, cereal and many more tasty treats.
- Gas stations include Shell shop, Mobil and Excel. All are decent options for restocking things you can’t get in village. Excel, though a bit of a trek, offers a greater selection of non-edible items.
- Chaine d’Avion – alimentation that seems to be geared towards wealthier clientele offering various specialty items not generally found in boutiques, however its selection is not noticeably different from the gas station shops.
- DGE (Deo Gratias Electronics) – small but the best place to go in Ouahigouya for higher-end electronics.
- ADC Photo – has reasonable prices and decent film development by Burkina standards.
Sidi Madhi: good for copying stuff, especially pants and men’s dress shirts.He makes great man dresses (not fancy wedding/swear-in bubus...we’re talking lay-around-the-house-too-hot-for-real-clothes man dresses). Prices: 750f for a simple blouse, 1500f for pants, 1500f for a man dress, a little more for tanti-style dresses etc. To get there enter the market on the same side as the STAF gare and veggie market. Past the post/Western Union big entrance there are a couple of small entrances and then another one that is larger and the size of the Western Union one. The small entrance before this bigger one is where you go in and the second stall on the left is Sidi-Madhi’s stall or just go in near there and ask for Sidi Madhi. He has done a lot of stuff for past volunteers.
- Hotel Dunia – must call ahead (55.05.95). For 2500 CFA, Madame cooks Syrian/Lebanese/Burkinabé food that is highly acclaimed by many PCVs.
- Le Caiman – many locals claim the grilled chicken here at 2000 CFA a pop is the best in town; a variety of good tasting typical Burkinabé fare (frites, riz-sauce, meat soup, etc.) for around 300 – 1000 CFA.; service is bad even by Burkina standards
- Maquis “Le Kadiami” – classy-looking restaurant with high prices
- Hotel Amitié – also a classy joint with white table cloths and overpriced Sobbras. If you’re willing to dish out the cash, you can indulge in various European and Middle Eastern dishes.
- “Tanti’s Gourmet” – large portions of tasty upscale street food served in an “eat with your hand” laid-back restaurant environment; arguably the strongest piment in Burkina.
Many other standard bar/restaurants, kiosques and cafés (such as Auberge, Ciné Place, Hawaii Café) with decent food at reasonable prices can be found along the main road through town.
Street food and snacks
There are many “benga ladies” along the main road and around the marché with fewer as you leave the center town; typically they offer benga, rice and sauce, tô, spaghetti and sometimes meat soup; atchiéké is also a popular street food dish which can be found around town without too much effort. Gateaux, galettes, and various forms of fried dough and potato-like produce throughout the marché and surrounding areas. There is a guy near the post office who grills delicious chicken for 1500 CFA a pop. Also the Laiterie Kossam Yadega is well-stocked with consistently tasty milk products for sale; while enticing, don’t be fooled by the expensive gateaux for sale, it’s not worth the price.
There are many bars along the main route and throughout town serving standard fare (sobbra, flag, castel, guiness, etc.) A few notables:
- Hawaii Café – according to its menu, it offers a few specialty coffee drinks as well as oatmeal. There are also a couple grilled meat vendors right nearby.
- Auberge – frequented by many wealthy-looking businessmen; offers some tasty but not cheap plates of grilled mouton and poulet.
- “Military Bar” – closest bar to the Peace Corps house; generally not busy but it is apparently affiliated with the military and some female volunteers have had less than pleasant experiences there.
- Bar Restaurant Dancing de L’Amitié – next door to the hotel restaurant; seems like a good place to cut loose on a Saturday night.
- Ciné Palace – movies shown daily with prices at 100, 150 and 250 CFA depending on your seat.
- Futbol Stadium – located near the post office and is the site for the occasional match among local squads.
- Hotel de L’Amitie pool – 1500 CFA to swim for the day but 1000 CFA for Peace Corps volunteers with ID.
- Yatenga Chef, Naaba Kibsi - This tourist attraction is just that: if you have not experienced what a real chef is like, you may find this cool. Should you want to go see him, it’s “free,” before leaving you just “give what you can”. Either have your visit arranged or be prepared to wait around when you arrive. Interesting note: he recently returned from the Hadj. Chefs are the heads of tradition, thus he is considered the leader in animist practices. Therefore he should not be taking the Muslim pilgrimage. He is a leader of animist faith, and to take the pilgrimage means one of two things: 1) he is not absolute in his animist faith or 2) he is not absolute in his Islamic faith. To get there, take the road that runs along the veggie market and then goes past the laiterie. Near the CDP headquarters you go left-ish, and you’ll see the big compound in there.
- Tours of Dogon country – It is possible to find guides and organize a trip to Dogon country in Mali from Ouahigouya. However, it seems that the guides in Mali are more familiar with the area and better equipped than the guides that can be found in Ouahigouya, so it is probably better to use one of the Peace Corps-friendly guides based out of Koro.