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Niger: Bicycle Tour Travel Guide




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by David Mozer

[An introduction and overview to travel in Africa is available by clicking here.  If you are look for a bicycle tour to this country, this link might help you.]

The information below may have been extracted from a more comprehensive "Country Supplement" to the book "Bicycling In Africa".  For information on these publications click on the links.

Some of the most scenic cycling in the country is right out of Niamey along the river towards Ayorou and inland towards Filingue. The roads in to these areas can be very bone jarring. A second scenic area is the Air Mountains, near Agadez ­­ this is even more rugged riding. You will generally want to stay on prepared roads because there are some very troubling thorns in the brush.

Most likely you will be riding along Route National. The national highway from Niamey to Zinder is relatively flat, paved and in good condition. Traffic volumes are so low it is nearly stress less cycling. Though the best part of your trip will probably not be Route National, but the side trips. The area out of Tahoua to Keita and Tchin­Tabaradene are culturally mixed and fascinating. From Birnin Konni to Zinder there are a number of interesting small towns.

In general my favorite days in Niger have been spent at smaller towns on the weekly market day. For example: Kao, Tommaske and Keita which are near Tahoua, Guidimouni and Tessaoua near Zinder. As you travel keep asking about weekly markets in the area. Hopefully you will be able to attend a couple. If you can find accommodations and are able to walk around as dusk turns to dark you will see even more into the spirit of the culture. There are plenty of small towns, just ask around when you find yourself in a large town.

The Air mountains are worth an excursion (arranged from Agadez), if you like the edge. Agadez is sort of a tourist­party­town, in the midst of a very pleasant culture. It is not my favorite mix.

Towards the end of the 1980's and into 1990, Niger was one of the few countries in West Africa that wasn't making it easier for tourists. Photo permits were one of the latest shakedowns for tourists. Part of Niger's attitude may stem from the fact that the lions share of tourist to Niger are cross­Sahara travelers: 1) they are just passing through, 2) they tend to be quantitative travelers, not particularly interested, caring or sensitive to local culture or attitudes, 3) they often are not a very endearing selection of Europeans to begin with. This combined with a government that was becoming increasingly greedy and abusive of human rights.

The situation may be taking a turn for the best, but don't count Niger as a success for democracy yet. In 1991, the government was forced to call a national congress. It was scheduled to be a charade that would last a couple of weeks. In the end the delegates got control of it, turned it into a constitutional convention, set election and the country now has a new government. In the mean time social order in Niamey declined and has yet to be restored, and the Tauregs in the north re-rebelled. This is a long term simmering revolt. When it flairs up areas north of Tahoua and Agadez become off-limits, as has been the case for much of the early 1990's.

For more information on Niger see the publication Bicycle Touring In Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger.

Links of Interest:


Regional Resources:

Burkina Faso



For current news on Africa and more web sites with country-by-country information go to the link section and click on "Africa: News, Background, Travel."

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