Burkina Faso - The Dancing Masks Festima Festival

Burkina Faso - The Dancing Masks Festima Festival

Style: TravellerCultural discovery away from the crowds
Duration: 10 days
Type: GroupSmall group tours with a maximum of 12 travellers


This tour combines the best of Burkina Faso. Starting from Ouagadougou we visit the colourful painted villages of the Kassena people, and then head west to see the fortified villages of the Lobi people. We  discover the enigmatic Loropeni Ruins and the tombs of Obire, and attend two  ‘dancing masks’ festivals, where villagers  gather for a traditional celebration of dance, song and storytelling. We also visit the friendly city of Bobo-Dioulasso, with its interesting old quarter and impressive mosque. An exciting trip which offers great insights into one of West Africa’s most interesting countries.

Tour Rating

Fitness ●●○○○ | Off the Beaten Track ●●●●○ | Culture ●●●●● | History ●●●○○ | Wildlife ○○○○

Tour Pace


Tour Highlights

  • Discover the enigmatic Loropeni Ruins and the tombs of Obire
  • Visit a unique cultural celebration that showcases the very best of Burkinabe culture
  • The beautiful painted houses of the Kassena people
  • The fortified houses of the Dagarti
  • Villages of the Lobi people

Tour Essentials

Accommodation: Comfortable hotel accommodation, private facilities
Included Meals: Daily breakfast (B), plus lunches (L) and dinners (D) as shown in the itinerary
Group Size: Maximum group size 16 (you may be joined by travellers from companies other than Undiscovered Destinations).
Start Point: Ouagadougou
End Point: Ouagadougou
Transport: 4WD or minibuses
Countries: Burkina Faso

Tour Itinerary Notes

While our intention is to adhere to the day-by-day itinerary as printed below, a degree of flexibility is built in. Overnight stops may vary from those suggested and on occasions alternative accommodation, of a similar standard to that named below, will be used.

Tour Guide

Our guides are a key strength, chosen for their knowledge of and passion for the areas in which they work. All of our guides are carefully hand-picked, and are not just passing through these countries, but are usually locally born. Unlike some companies it should be noted we do not send a guide or tour leader from Undiscovered Destinations in the UK as we have every confidence in our locally appointed representative who is responsible for operating the tour on our behalf. Where possible you will have the same guide throughout your trip but on occasions it may be necessary to change the guide at one or more points during the tour.

Day 1 – Ouagadougou

Arrive in Ouagadougou, the lively capital of Burkina Faso, and transfer to your hotel. Overnight at Hotel Le Grand Calao or similar.


The evocatively named Ouagadougou, Burkina’s capital, grew up around the palace of the Mossi ruler, the Moro Naba, in the 17th century. It is a small and relatively compact city, with about one and a half million inhabitants. Although Ouaga is lacking in a plethora of traditional sights, it gives a great insight into a modern West African city and is a pleasant place to stroll around. It is dotted with small open air bars and restaurants which are very popular meeting places for local Ouagalais and a great place to sit relax and watch the world go by.

Day 2 – Kassena region - Po (150 km approx. 3 hours)

We begin the day with a city tour of Ouagadougou taking in the noises and colours of the streets. The suburbs are home to a number of craftsmen and it is a great opportunity to appreciate their skills. In the afternoon we head south from Ouaga to the Kassena region and Po. Overnight at Hotel Envol or similar (BL)

Day 3 - Po to Leo (190 km approx. 4 hours)

We drive from Po to Leo, passing villages which are home to the Kassena people, who are famous for their beautifully painted houses, Their society is divided along lines of gender; the men are responsible for construction and build the houses, and the women then take over and paint the intricate and colourful frescoes. Overnight at Auberge de la Sissili or similar. (BL)

Kassena People

The Kassena are a relatively small ethnic group who live both in Burkina Faso and Ghana. They are primarily farmers but the men often use dogs for hunting nearby wildlife. They believe in a supreme creator god, a shrine to which will be found in every Kassena village. Above all the Kassena are known for the murals, patterns and decorations that adorn the outside of their houses. These are often made up of geometrical patterns, representing creatures such as bats, hawks, snakes and tortoises, which hold special significance within Kassena society.

Day 4 – Leo to Gaoua (250 km, approx. 5 hours)

We drive through a remote region, inhabited by the Dagarti people, which see few tourists. They have always kept strong ties to the invisible world of Spirits, represented by fetishes, shrines and sacred sites. They build fortified houses to protect their family as well as all their belongings. In the afternoon we visit some of the villages of the Lobi people. They are a shy and secretive tribe but with the help of local guides we are able to visit their fortress style houses dotted around this region. The men still move around armed with bows and arrows and the older women often wear a small disc in their lower lip. Overnight at Hotel Hala or similar (BL)

Lobi People

The Lobi are thought to have migrated from Ghana in the 18th century, and their name means literally ‘children of the forest’. Today they live in villages consisting of several fortress style dwellings, excellent protection against slave raids of old. The Lobi follow animist traditions, worshipping fetishes and ancestors, and are renowned as excellent warriors, putting up fierce resistance to French efforts at occupation. The Lobi are still very traditional and adhere to old customs, one of which is their initiation ceremony where young men and women head off into the bush for several weeks, performing secret rituals and speaking a secret language.

Day 5 – Gaoua - Loropeni

Continue exploring the region around Gaoua, including the mysterious ruins at Loropeni, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. We may encounter communities of gold miners along the way to the village of Obire with its tombs of previous kings. This is home to the Gan Dynasty and we may be lucky and meet the chief. The Gan live in polygamous groups with their homes built around a courtyard- each man lives in a rectangular hut, and each of his wives in her own circular house. Overnight at Hotel Hala or similar (BL)

Day 6 – Bobo-Bwa Masks- Gaoua to Bobo Dioulasso. (300 kms, approx. 5 hours).

Today we drive to the region of the Bwaba across the lands of the Dagarti people. In the afternoon we will attend a performance of the Bobo-Bwa Masks, or Dance of the Leaves. Every year, in every village in Burkina, these masks are created in great secrecy outside the village. After being received by the fetish priest they enter the village and sweep every corner to fully cleanse it. This is a purification ceremony for the entire village and it is believed to lead to its total regeneration. After this we continue to Bobo Dioulasso. Overnight at Auberge de Bobo or similar. (BL)

Day 7 – Bobo Dioulasso

We begin our exploration of Burkina’s second city with a visit to the old quarter of the city, dating back many centuries and with separate quarters for the different religions, such as Moslems and animists that live here. Bobo’s most famous landmark, and one of the most impressive in West Africa, is its Grand Mosque, a whitewashed mud built building with the typical logs jutting out from all angles. This evening we head out to join the local crowd at one of the city’s excellent live music venues. Overnight at L’Auberge de Bobo or similar (BL)

Bobo Dioulasso

Bobo, in Burkina’s south west, is the second city of the country and a fantastic place to spend a couple of days. Quiet and leafy, it is home to an excellent live music scene and colourful nightlife. Its name means “home of the Bobo and Dioula”, two ethnic groups, that settled here centuries ago. Bobo’s Grand Mosque is one of Burkina’s most impressive sights, a low, whitewashed mud mosque built in the late nineteenth century that is a focal point for the city’s Moslem population. Nearby is the old quarter of Dioulasso, with narrow winding dust streets, women pounding millet outside their homes, holy fetishes and a river containing sacred catfish. Bobo also has an unusual (and rather underused) railway station, built by the French colonists in an imitation of Sudanese architecture. Bobo is an easy place to find your way around and a very pleasant city for a wander, with large shady trees lining wide boulevards and plenty of pavement cafes to while away the odd hour or two. As well as this, Bobo is a fantastic place to buy traditional arts and crafts at very reasonable prices.

Days 8 - Gourounsi Masks- Bobo to Dedougou (180 kms, approx. 3 hours).

We make an early start for the drive to Dedougou. We will witness a display of the Gourounsi Masks dance – the masks represent the spirits of the bush and often take on animal forms. The dancing is colourful and dynamic and some of the dancers often fall into trances. Overnight Hotel Diarra or similar.  (BL)

Day 9 – Dedougou to Ouagadougou (225 kms, approx. 4 hours)

Today sees us return to Ouaga stopping at several villages along the way. On arrival there will be time for some last minute shopping before transferring to the airport in the evening for your flight home. (BL).

Arrival and departure transfers
All accommodation
Services of English speaking guide / tour leader
Meals as listed (B – Breakfast, L – Lunch, D – Dinner)
Entrance fees for sites listed as part of the itinerary

International flights
Any airport taxes
Travel Insurance

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