It is no secret that I am a train freak. I love traveling with trains and have previously traveled on the Trans-Siberian Railway, the Silk Route and the Mauritanian Iron Ore Train to mention a few. All since I knew that the overland truck I am traveling with for six months would go through Ouagadougou, I have wanted to travel with the only international train route that is still operational in Western- Africa. Being also a much safer option than bus for this border crossing (having several armed guards instead of just one and because of traffic) and since it went through Bobo-Dioulasso and Banfora were cities I wanted to visit as well it was something I just had to do.
Having read a couple of French blogs saying that the ride was horrible I expected the worst while in reality it must have been more wrong with those bloggers than the train ride itself. Second class is packed with people who bring fruits and other goods that they will sell abroad, but that makes it more of a cultural experience like being in an African market. Me and Travis were seated among a band that had been performing on the National Culture week in Bobo-Dioulasso and in the evening they came to life playing their drums, singing and dancing right in front of us. We had paid 25 euro for our ticket to Abidjan and when we got tired we felt it was worth paying another 15 euro to rest comfortably in an air-conditioned first class for the rest of the trip.
First class had aircon, entertainment and comfortable chairs
In the restaurant behind the first class they sold hot meals, snacks and 0,66l beers for an euro and talk to other travellers. Every time people were pulling up something to eat, either it was beside, behind or in front of us they would offer some to us and they were also eager to inform us about what was happening along the way such as waiting time at the stations and the procedures for the border crossing. We were let through the queue at the immigration office, but those who did not have a yellow fever vaccination card were forced to take the vaccine there and the slowest ones through the border were left behind, just like we had experienced on a lunch stop for a bus a couple of days ago.
All in all I had a quite interesting train ride and I would recommend taking it over the bus any time!
Second class, which was packed with people and cargo during the train ride