Standing at the geographical heart of West Africa, Burkina Faso (formerly Haute or Upper Volta, or just Burkina to the locals) is the sort of place that captures the imagination – how many of your friends back home even know that Burkina Faso exists? – and wins the hearts of travellers with its relaxed pace of life, friendly people and wealth of interesting sights. From the deserts and unrivalled Gorom-Gorom market in the north, to the green countryside and strange rock formations of the country’s southwest, Burkina spans a rich variety of landscapes. The country, too, is home to a fascinating cultural mix, with the Burkinabé almost as diverse as the terrain. This may be one of the world’s poorest countries, but it’s also one of the most stable in the region and runs with an efficiency that’s the envy of many of its neighbours. Throw in the continent’s most important film festival, the delightful small-town atmosphere of Bobo-Dioulasso, wildlife safaris in the south, the enjoyable and gloriously named capital, Ougadougou, and there’s enough here to transform Burkina from the country that no-one knows to an experience you’ll never forget.