Monday, February 13, 2012

Burkina Faso's Southwest

The Sindou Peaks

With my daughter Dawn and her family I visited an interesting natural area called the Sindou Peaks. These reminded us of Bryce and Zion canyons in the American southwest. The tall rock spires just seem to rise out of the flat plane. 


We took a guided walk through part of them.  Our guide told us that, in olden times, when there were wars between ethnic groups, one group made their home on the plateau among the rocks because it was easy to defend.  Since the end of ethnic rivalries people no longer live here, but the area has been used as the setting for a number of African films, so if the rocks look familiar, you may have seen them on the big screen. 


Here is the obligatory group photo, taken by our guide. Our driver, Hamadou, is on the left, and Prosper is hunkered down between me and Jay. Notice how Dawn and Jay stood on a rock to be taller than Jesse? He is now over 6 feet tall.


The climb up was not too bad, because we followed a path that was cut by the movie production company, but getting down was interesting. It would be easy to push people back who were trying to scale the rocks here.



One of the things you see around Banfora, in the southwest, are lots of these palm trees.  The sap is used to make palm wine.  All you have to do is tap the tree, like you tap a maple syrup tree.  When you get the sap, you let it sit for a few days and you have a tasty alcoholic beverage.  The longer you let it sit, the stronger it gets, I have been told.


Another sight is the sugar cane fields. They are watered with the kind of irrigation system you might see in the US.


When I went back to Banfora with my friend Elizabeth, we invited a married couple, who are volunteers in the area, to come to town for dinner.  Their site is about 15 kilometers out of town so we went out to pick them up in our 4X4.  It was quite the adventure. The road was very rutted and full of dips and holes.  The worst place was where a bridge was deteriorating. It was not safe to cross and, because it is just going over a dry stream bed in this dry season, cars now go off the road, down the bank, and up the other side.  

It seemed steeper from the inside of the car, but this looks bad enough! It was even scarier when we took them home after dark.


The Cascades

The next day we went to see another tourist attraction, referred to here as the cascades. With the terrible roads it is surprising anyone goes there, but there were folks waiting near the falls to try to sell us souvenirs and cold drinks. Here are the falls.


I hiked up a trail that goes to the first of three levels.  The first part had man-made steps.


In some places, you just scramble up the rocks.


Some government project built these picnic shelters here.  I understand groups do sometimes climb the rocks and have picnics here.

The falls are said to be spectacular in the rainy season, but then tourists can’t get there very earily because the roads are even worse than they are now.  I was also told the falls were bigger before the sugar company started taking water from the stream above the falls. Here is the view from the first level of the cascade, out across the lower lying lands.


The hippos that live in a lake near Banfora, that  I showed in the earlier blog about animals, were not as cooperative when Elizabeth was with me.  This is all we saw of them, literally eyes, noses, and ears

The guide tried to make it up to us by making these necklaces from water lilies he picked.

More on our travels next time….

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