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Travel Guide Africa Niger Niamey

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Introduction

Niamey is the capital and largest city in Niger and has a population of about 750,000 inhabitants. The city is located on the banks of Niger River, mostly on the east bank and is the administrative, cultural and economic center of the country. It is an attractive city with lots to see and do and generally offers good facilities for travellers, both budget and upmarket. The Niger National Museum, the Niger riverbanks with the possibility to dine on a boat, several markets and a traditional wrestling area will keep most travellers busy for a day or two. The city is easily reached by plane or bus.

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Sights and Activities

  • Niger National Museum
  • Markets
  • Niger River

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Weather

Niamey has a hot and generally dry desert climate with a short rain season from June to September when there can be severe thunderstorms with occasional flooding. Rains can be unpredictable though and sometimes the rainy season means just a few showers now and then. Average anual rainfall is around 200 mm. The coolest time is between November and February with warm and dry weather. Temperatures generally are still over 35 °C though. March to June are very hot in the entire country with average daytime temperatures of 40 °C or more, but temperatures of over 45 °C are not unheard of. Nights are warm to very warm. Only November to February has nights of roughly 15 °C to 18 °C, but in the hot season temperatures at night average over 25 °C.

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Getting There

By Plane

Diori Hamani International Airport (NIM) near Niamey receives a good number of international flights. Destinations include Bamako, Cotonou and Tripoli with Afriqiyah Airways, Algiers with Air Algérie, Ouagadougou and Paris with Air France, Abidjan with Air Ivoire, Dakar with Air Senegal, Casablanca and Libreville with Royal Air Maroc and Basel with Hello AG. Point Afrique has flights between Paris/Marseille and Agadez/Niamey.

By Train

A new railway link between Niamey, Dosso and Cotonou is currently under construction. Eventually the railway will link up with Burkina Faso as well. The railway station, Gare de Niamey, is located next to the Hippodrome.

By Car

Highways leading to the north of Niamey pose a great risk to travellers' safety. Several kidnappings have taken place in areas near the Mali border.
There are several highways leading to/from Niamey:

  • To the northwest: A newly paved routes exists along the north side of the Niger connecting the city with Gao, Mali and which passes through Boubon, Farie, Tillaberi, & Ayorou. A less-travelled route on the south-side of the Niger in the same direction leads through several small towns towards Tera in the Liptano region.
  • To the southwest: A major highway leads to Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso passing through the towns of Lamorde, Kobadie, & Torodi.
  • To the south: A highway leads to W National Park, passing through Boyenga & Say.
  • To the southeast: A major highway leads through Koure & Birni N'Gaoure to Dosso, where the major highway to Gaya & Benin heads south and the major highway to the eastern half of the country (Route Nationale 1) heads east.
  • To the northwest: A minor road leads to Route Nationale 1 at Dogondoutchi.
  • To the north: A minor road leads to Anderamboukane, Mali passing through Oullam & Bani Bangou.

By Bus

Buses travel between Niamey and Cotonou in Benin, taking 14 hours for the journey. Crossing is at the Gaya/Malanville border where otherwise you can take a moto and walk across if you don't feel like doing the whole trip in one stage. On both sides, there are bush taxi's.
Buses and minibuses also travel between Niamey and Ouagadougou in Burkina Faso, taking around 10 hours. Crossing is at Foetchango, west of Niamey.
There are two weekly trucks between Niamey and Gao in Mali, taking up to 30 hours across bad roads.

Buses and bush taxi's connect Niamey to other destinations in Niger, including Zinder and Agadez.

By Boat

While the Niger River runs through the city and there are no impediments to river travel (rapids, waterfalls), there is no regular boat service like there is upstream in Mali. Many pirogue operators will gladly take you along the river for a reasonable price, but you will need to find one heading in your direction. Pirogues operate on erratic schedules, are both much slower and less comfortable than buses.

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Getting Around

Taxis (small white cars) are plentiful and easy to use. They are almost always shared (1 passenger in the front, 3 in the back) unless you ask specifically to pay more to make it private. There are a handful of places where taxis will queue for passengers (airport, grande marche, etc), but most of the time you just stick out your hand towards the traffic, maybe give a weak wave, and shout for "taxi" or "taximan". The rate for a shared taxi is FIXED at XOF200 per person. Through the open window, tell the driver your destination and if he nods, or stays there, you're good to go. It is better to give a section of the city or a major landmark as the destination than giving an address. If he drives off, he wasn't going near your destination; just hail the next taxi. For longer distances the taxi driver will indicate it is double (XOF400) by saying quatre cent (French), deux courses (also French) or wah-haku (Djerma) before you get in the car. If in doubt, confirm the price beforehand, especially if you are white and take a taxi near a hotel.

The rate is XOF800-1000 if you want the taxi all for yourself. You should pay more only from bus station (XOF500) and from the airport (XOF3000 or higher). Prices double after midnight. Oftentimes, taxis will wait outside hotels looking for passengers, usually they will try to charge more than the official rate or are only looking for single passengers (they won't stop for other passengers and will charge you accordingly).

There is a Hertz car rental place in Niger that rents Toyota RAV4. It is very expensive!

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Eat

Be sure to try all the local specialties rather than only sticking to ex-pat restaurants. Niamey food is incredible, unique, and not-to-be-missed. You didn't come all this way to eat the same food you get at home.

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Drink

Keep in mind that drinking alcohol is generally forbidden in Muslim culture, so take extra care to keep drunken inappropriate behavior behind closed doors and out of the public eye. Most of the Western-style restaurants above also serve drinks, 'Restaurant Atlantique in particular have an amazing river view, especially great around sunset.

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Keep Connected

Phone

See also International Telephone Calls

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Contributors

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This is version 7. Last edited at 14:58 on May 29, 17 by hasbeen. 14 articles link to this page.

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