Waterfalls of Gobnangou: Accessing the far East
Somehow I came across a photograph of a wonderful waterfall that is supposed to be around Diapaga, a little town in the east of Burkina. It was impossible to find more information about this waterfall, for instance how to get there or where to stay. Nobody had heard about it, the telephone numbers and email-addresses that I found online didn't work anymore. Nevertheless, Tobias and I decided to take the risk and to explore the Diapaga-area ourselves, not knowing whether we would find the waterfall or not. We drove the first 50KM on a paved road, before turning right on the dust-path. All we had was a street-plan of Burkina Faso (we quickly realized this plan is not accurate enough to rely on it) and a box of cookies (and we had no idea this is going to be our only food for the next 24 hours). Here is a detailed report of our journey for those who are courageous enough to go to the far East of Burkina Faso.
ONE: Fada N´Gourma – Ougarou
This is the easiest part of the journey but also the less exciting one! We left Fada on the Niger-Road and drove around 50 Kilometers towards the boarder. The road is paved but the high amount of holes requires a lot of concentration of the driver. After several little villages like Namoungou and Kpentchangou, we passed the sign of "Campement de lion/Neerwaya" (mobile: +226 50792101). This hotel-complex is open from December to April, has a pool, and offers rather expensive Safaris in the "Park d´Arly" or "Park W". Anyways, we continued on the main road and turned right, just after the village of Ougarou. From now on, no more paved roads for the next three days.
TWO: Ougarou – Partiaga
Stunning Scenery! Changing Landscape! From a hilly forest dream-land, to wide flat pasture to lush-green rice fields. It is quite easy to find Partiaga, as it is only straight. The village itself is nothing special and there is nothing to buy, apart from some fried-flour-balls. However, the way to reach this village is very special and luckily we took enough time to stop and to take photos. It took us over two hours to drive the 80 Kilometers on the dust-road. It is not possible without 4/4-vehicle.
THREE: Partiaga – Diapaga
Reaching Partiaga, we thought we can find the waterfalls straight away if we continue. So we went deeper inside the Gobnangou valley. It became more rural, more difficult to drive (through streams and over mountains). Of course, there were no restaurants anymore. Very quick it became dark and we realized that our decision was wrong! The road was as bad, we even broke our bulbar. There was no way of return. We somehow managed, even though we reached Diapaga by night, not knowing where to stay, super hungry and exhausted. I don´t recommend this route to anybody, so I rather tell how we woud do it next time:
From Partiaga, take route D10 to Diapaga. Again, a dust-road and a challenging drive that can't be succeed without 4/4. You can ask for "Diapaga", people can guide you, or you look for the one and only road-sign on the way. It is difficult to read but you will recognize the last three letters "aga".
Once in Diapaga, we took advantages of the infrastructure that exist here: An ATM, fuel (not a gas-station, but bottle-fuel), restaurants and several hotels. I recommend either "Hotel Oudrago" (in the city center, Restaurant) or "Campement Libaboundi" (On the N19-Road to Kantchari, 7KM outside town, mobile: +226 70351220; 33 Euro/night; Restaurant; Pool). We stayed a night in the campement and left early in the morning to Namouno.
FOUR: Diapaga - Namouno
I don't know the name of street, but there is a decent dust-road from Diapaga to Namouno. People can guide you. The way is as stunning as the former stage! So calculate enough time for photo-stop. There are a few possibility to take bottled-fuel on the way, but its better you leave Diapaga with enough fuel.
FIVE: Namouno - Namponkoré (Little Waterfall)
Almost there! Now it is time to follow the street to Namponkoré. You can also ask for the village of Logbau, because it lies on the same road. We drove slowly through the village of Namponkoré and couldn't trust our eyes: A waterfall. Literally on the right hand-side before crossing the bridge. The waterfall is not far away from the main-village-road, maybe a 15-minutes walk. The landscape, the waterfall and the high cliffs are stunning. We took our time also to take a walk around the fields. BUT: This is not all. We even found a second, bigger waterfall.
SIX: Namponkoré - Mahadoga
Only a few minutes after the village of Namkonkoré, comes Mahadoga. On the map it looks smaller but in fact it has more to offer. There is even a hospital and a (very simple) guesthouse (SIM Guesthouse, next to the American NGO "ODD", opposite of the hospital, 5 Euro/Person/Night). Tobias and I stayed the night. It is perfect to either stay here and see the second waterfall early in the morning or to visit the waterfall in the afternoon and then to sleep over. I have to admit, we went to bed again hungry. We asked in the village for "chicken", but they told us chicken is only Thursdays available. Instead, they offered rat and rabbit. We also asked for fruits, but the response was nothing more than big laughter.
SEVEN: Mahadoga – Big Waterfall
From Mahadoga, we continued exactly 7 Kilometers further until we reached the road-sign of "Campement Kindi Kombou". We left the car on the street and followed the small path by foot. It is quite a journey t reach the waterfall and whenever you think "this might be the wrong track" you have to continue. After a 40-minute walk, we could finally see the waterfall. Bit of disappointment that we couldn't take a swim. But the waterfall welcomed us with a dead crocodile, that we found next to the rocks. However, it is an absolutely wonderful, peaceful place for a picnic or a sunbath or a hike.
A few words about Campement "Kindi Kombou", also called "Yentuguli": In theory it is open, but in fact it is abandoned by the owner. We visited the campement and had a look at the rooms....super dirty, animal waste everywhere, even on the mattresses, very bad smell. So, I would not recommend to stay here, event hough the employee was very friendly and in big need of clients. At least you can grab a Brakina or a Sprite hear, on your walk back from the waterfall.
EIGHT: Big Waterfall - Fada N´Gourma
There are many options to go back to Fada. Either through the national Park of Arly, to Pama. Or simply back to Diapaga and from there either the same way back to Ougarou or to Kantchari, if you want a different landscape. We stayed in Mahadoga and went back the next morning. After lunch in Diapaga, we went the same way back and were somehow quiet happy, when we reached the paved-road again ;)