Capital city of Niger, population around 270,000. French speaking , with some Arabic, Djbera and Hausa also being spoken. Niamey is situated in the south of Niger, the more temparate zone. Breathtakingly hot most of the time (48o centigrade) it does cool down a little in the rainy season (June to September) when the days give sandstorms and the nights give thunderstorms.
Niamey sits on the banks of the river Niger where it is spanned by the John F Kennedy bridge - an oasis of green in the surrounding scrubland/desert. There is a little wildlife around but if you want to safari then you're better off going elsewhere.
Most people are very poor but there is a sizeable percentage of the city are very well off. There appears to be no middle classes.
Ravaged by disease, particularly polio, Niamey is home to many charatable organisations such as Medicines Sans Srontiers, Croix Rouge/Red Cross and the World Bank who fund several projects there.
Do not have sex with anyone. AIDS is rampant, its really not worth risking it.
If you want distraction go to one of the many fine bars which line the river
and experience the joy of an African sunset
. I'd thourougly recommend you try the local brew "Biere Niger" from "La Piscine", a bar built beside a (dry) olympic
-sized swimming pool.
Don't be worried if you see people with ritual facial scarring - it is indicative of tribal standing - they look scary but you are perfectly safe. The same goes for the large numbers of economically and/or physically disabled people who you'll find begging at road junctions in the city.
Niamey retains some reminders of the countries sometimes ugly past. Bullet splashes in the airport remind one of where the former president was assassinated by his bodyguards in 1999. An impounded Boeing 737 sits on the airport apron since it was impounded for non-payment of bills several years ago - a bizzare sight. Street names like "Uranium Drive" remind one of the countries former sources of income.
- Don't drink the water. Sounds obvious but you'd be surprised at how many people muck up that one.
- Don't wear boots and socks, wear sandals instead. You'll reduce the chances of catching malaria by doing so.
- Put on your insect repellant every day. 50% DEET so-called "Jungle formula" should keep you safe.
- Take lots of small bills, US dollars or Euros with you for tips
- Don't miss your flight - there aren't many per week.
- Eat the local food, its fantastic if you like spicy stuff.
- Learn at least a little French before you go.
- The nearest cinema is in Ouagadougou, along with most other cultural entertainment, so if you're there for a while be sure to bring some books.