Into Burkina Faso
For my last night in Mali I wild camp near a river/rock slide/waterfall not far from the border. It’s in a beautiful clearing, and the few cow herders that wander through wave a friendly hello before continuing on their way. Both sunset and sunrise are spectacular.
In the morning it’s actually cold and I arrive at the main Mali-Burkina Faso border of Koloko just before 8am. All the locals look hilarious, fully rugged up in massive winter coats, scarves and gloves, and can’t believe I’m only wearing shorts and a t-shirt.
It feels great not to be seating for once, though I don’t admit to them I’m actually cold
On the Malian side my exit stamp is quick and easy, and customs take back my temp import permit and wave me farewell. On the Burkina side I stop at the large immigration building and the friendly officers there give me a sincere welcome to the country and ask to have a look in the back of the Jeep. After we chat back and forward about it, I can tell they really just wanted to have a look out of curiosity – they’re not actually searching for anything.
The Jeep is parked in front of the Burkina Faso flag, and I ask permission to take a photo of it. I’m always a little shy about pulling out my big camera this close to a border / military / immigration, and in the end the boss says I can not. I confirm I will only take a photo of my Jeep and the flag – no buildings or officers – but he is still having none of it.
While waiting for my entrance stamp I start a conversation with an interesting looking fellow. His car has plates I’ve never seen before, his French accent is noticeably different, and he looks very middle-eastern to my eye. The man explains he has driven from Libya, through Niger and now has crossed Burkina Faso on his way to conduct business in Dakar, Senegal. The drive has been great, without any problems, he says. Though things are bad in parts of Libya, life goes on, he explains. Of course, he’s quick to point out it’s not safe for “The whites” these days, and we agree it’s best I don’t go there.
My entrance stamp is ready, so after “Bon Voyage” all round I move down to customs. When I pull in a military man walks over asks if the Jeep is armored. He genuinely thinks it’s a military vehicle, something I have often wondered about. The tan color, black wheels, and obvious weight make it look that way, he says. He’s not at all worried, just curious.
He is the one holding an AK47, after all.
A temporary import permit is quickly written up in a very friendly and professional office, and the sign on the wall clearly shows the official price I am asked for, 5,000CFA (almost $10) for one month entry.
The whole crossing is extremely friendly and polite, and I am free to move off into Burkina Faso, African country number nine!
Right away I turn off the highway onto a small gravel road, excited for adventures to come.
For all the details to drive your own vehicle into Burkina Faso, including gas prices, border procedures, paperwork, insurance, camping and more, see http://wikioverland.org/Burkina_Faso