Niamey lies on the lush shores of the Niger River. The capital is refreshing, and visitors can immerse themselves in the busy markets, take in one of the region's most interesting museums and enjoy relaxing by the riverside.
The huge National Museum of Niger is definitely a standout in West Africa. Visitors can catch a glimpse and the country's past and present in the numerous themed pavilions, each designed in tribute to traditional Hausa architecture. The Pablo Toucet pavilion is one of the most popular. It's large collection of dress from many of the country's diverse ethnic groups makes it easier to identify the groups throughout Niger during your travels. The Boubou Hana pavilion is another favorite, largely because it is home to a 15-meter long Sarcosuchus imperator. The “super Croc” is more than 100 million years old. There are many dinosaur fossils and skeletons of comparable age in the Paleontology and Prehistory pavilion.
Niamey has a large population of people, but a huge number of fruit bats also call the city home. At night, they soar through the sky looking for food. During the day, visitors can see thousands of them sleeping, squeaking and hanging out in the trees that line the West Africa Central Bank complex. Head to the Place de la République at sunset to catch the hive of activity before the bats head out for the night.
The Grande Mosquée is one of the most impressive sights in the city with its bulbous emerald dome and massive minaret. Libyan money financed the entire building, from the ornately carved wooden doors to the grand tiled dome and extravagant pillars. If you linger outside the mosque, a local will surely approach you to offer a short tour. Take the offer, then head to the top of the minaret for one of the best views of the city. You will have to climb 171 steps to reach the top, but the view is worth every one of them.
The Cathedral de Maorey is also worth a visit. Niger is home to a sizable Christian population, and this is the largest place of worship for them in the country. The cathedral's stunning design is a mix of European and local architecture.
In the center of the town is the Petit Marche, a lively market filled to the brim with locals selling fruits, vegetables, handicrafts, textiles and more.
One of the most delightful ways to experience the city is on a pirogue trip. Many guides hang around the center of the city offering boat tours, but you can save money by just heading to the banks of the river yourself. Peaceful and a nice break from the city, the boat rides are most lovely at sunset.
While in the city, feast on some traditional West African dishes. There are many street vendors and restaurants serving up the national cuisine, and a great meal can be enjoyed for a very small price. Some of the most common dishes and foods in Niger include rice, mango, cooked yams, goat, fish, fired plantains, palm nut soup, cassava root, jollof rice and efo, a stew made of greens. Spices are used liberally, including saffron, ginger, cinnamon and nutmeg.
Niamey Geographical Location
The Niger River runs through Niamey in the southwest corner of Niger.
The population is estimated to be 790,000 in the metropolitan area.
French is the official language of Niger although there are approximately eight national languages spoken throughout.
Niamey Predominant Religion
The “other” category consists mainly of Christians and those who practice indigenous beliefs.
The Communaute Financiere Africaine Franc, sometimes referred to as the CFA Franc or simply “the Franc”, is the official currency of Niger.
Niamey is very hot throughout the year with little or no rain between October and April. Although the temperatures during the day can be scorching hot, the nights are often pleasantly cool.
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