Vicuna's Travel Stories | Ouagadougou: The Pulse of an African City


Ouagadougou is the capital of Burkina Faso. 1.6 million people live there when 20 years ago there were only 700,000; that is to say, the incredibly quick growth and the stunning density in this city shows today.

Credit: @vicuna

The first impression you get when you come out of the airport is the incredible sound and smell of the city. There are people everywhere—shouting, hyperactive, and always on the move—the noise of the traffic and that special music produced by the incessant honking of the drivers (it seems that when you drive here, you need to have your fingers permanently on the horn), and this curious smell coming from the heat, dust, garbage, and pollution wafting to your nose. Well, that’s when you know you just landed onto another world!

Credit: @vicuna

Traffic, circulation, noise, people walking and moving forward, driving cars, motorcycles, bikes: that’s an incredible and permanent energy and vitality. As a photographer you can only be fascinated by all this movement as it’s a fantastic subject to shoot, but it’s also difficult as you need to slow down in a moving crowd to capture the flow and energy you have in front of your eyes.

There’s one key place to visit in Ouagadougou if you want to see and feel the pulse of the city: the bridge of Yatenga Avenue. In the middle of the city is a huge reservoir lake, splitting the north and south of the city with only two bridges connecting them. Yatenga Avenue is the main road of the city so you’re sure to always see a lot of traffic there. With my good friend @wil6ka, who I traveled with to Burkina Faso in November 2013, we thought it would be very interesting to go there one morning and shoot some pictures of this intense city life. We tried to be there around 7:00 a.m. and there was already a lot of activity on the bridge.

We chose a place to stay on the bridge, shooting the movement and hoping to capture something of this incredible energy. It wasn’t easy as when I wanted to focus on something, a car always passes by in front of the camera and everything was going so fast that I barely had the time to prepare for a specific shot. But with some patience, I finally made a good shot!

Here’s a little selection of what I shot on this day on the bridge. You may see the full albums here and here. @wil6ka also has amazing shots, have a look at his album, too.

Credit: @vicuna

I’ve been to Ouagadougou only twice. I know there’s still a lot to see and capture on film, but it needs time to feel a city like that. This year, at the end of October, I’ll return to Burkina Faso for the third time and I hope I’ll catch a bit more of this incredible pulse. I have the impression I just had a glimpse of that for now; there’s still a lot to discover!

Previously: Vicuna's Travel Stories | On the Road in Burkina Faso

written by vicuna on 2015-09-02 #places #location #ouagadougou #regular-contributor #vicuna-travel-stories


  1. wil6ka
    wil6ka ·

    outstanding! <3

  2. wil6ka
    wil6ka ·

    the maestro with his camera-gear:…

  3. vicuna
    vicuna ·

    @wil6ka thanks a lot Herr Willie :) And this portrait is from far one of my favorites! :)

  4. monofon
    monofon ·

    Great story and stunning pictures! Thanks for giving us this little insight!

  5. neja
    neja ·

    fabulous as always!

  6. trash-gordon-from-outer-space
    trash-gordon-from-outer-space ·

    Wonderful pictures.

  7. hervinsyah
    hervinsyah ·

    Dream journey <3 if I'm not mistaken Burkina Faso was one of location of Leonardo Di Caprio movie rrr I forgot the title.. black diamond if I'm not mistaken

  8. vicuna
    vicuna ·

    Thanks a lot for your comments @monofon @neja @trash-gordon-from-outer-space and @hervinsyah, I checked for the movie you're talking about, apparently it's called "Blood Diamond" and is located in Sierra Leone...

  9. stouf
    stouf ·


  10. vicuna
    vicuna ·

    @stouf merci l'ami! :)

  11. hervinsyah
    hervinsyah ·

    @stouf oh yeah, Sierra Leone at Black diamond =) pardon me.

  12. hervinsyah
    hervinsyah ·

    errr sorry, wrong mention, I mean @vicuna

  13. bloomchen
    bloomchen ·

    klasse! bin mir gar nicht sicher ob die fotos alle gesehen habe.

  14. herbert-4
    herbert-4 ·

    Outstanding travel article!!

  15. herbert-4
    herbert-4 ·

    BTW... there is a really good movie, "Yaaba" 1989, that was made in Burkina Faso.

  16. vicuna
    vicuna ·

    thanks @herbert-4 :) And I don't know this movie but will look for it :)

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