Niamey City Tour The great thing about Niamey is that it's a very walkable city, with many points of interest within close proximity. Directly outside the airport on arrival you have the "I Heart Niamey" sign, then when you head into the city it's worth checking out The Mahatma Gandhi International Convention Centre (may need to tip security to enter). The streets are completely safe to walk in the evening, so head towards any central mosque. Seeing local life "freeze" at the call of prayer is a tranquil experience in itself.
Niger River Cruise The Niger River is the 3rd longest river in Africa at a huge 4,180km with a large part of the river flowing through the country of Niger. Whilst you're in Niamey, this is the perfect opportunity for a boat ride down the river. You'll see first hand how the locals heavily depend upon the river for fishing, water supply, and daily chores like washing clothes. The river is also home to hundreds of hippos, as well as being one of the best spots in the country to catch sunset.
There's a local market situated just along the bank of the Niger River that takes place every Wednesday. In my opinion, there's no better place for local photography than a market place. The contrast of hundreds of locals in a confined space with vibrant colours in all directions is a beautiful sight. There's also plenty of food on offer that won't be familiar with back home, so be brave and experiment.
National Stadium A short 5km drive outside of Niamey and you can reach the Stade Général Seyni Kountché, which is the National Stadium. There's four Niger premier clubs that use the stadium as their home, as well as the national team. The stadium opened in 1989, but then had large renovation work 10 years later to increase the capacity to 50,000. There are security guards at the main entrance that will ask for a small fee to let you inside.
This place is like nothing I've ever seen before across all of my travels to date. In short, Dan Malkou is an animal parts market. There's many different stations that specialise in cleaning each part of the dead animals in order to re-sell. The tails and eyeballs are sold to make a traditional soup dish, the hide is sold to make shoes and clothing, whilst the animal heads are used during local voodoo ceremonies. Obviously not the best place to visit if you're a vegetarian, but fascinating to see so many locals focussed on the importance of their role in the process.
For clarity, I'm not the biggest fan of museums, especially on the African continent as I think the majority are neglected, but my reason for visiting the National Museum in Niamey was very specific. The museum itself is very average, but in the outer grounds you'll find two superbly preserved dinosaur skeletons that were excavated from the Agadez Desert back in the 1970's. With limited souvenir options across the country, the National Museum is also a great place to pick up some local art and craft items.
Great Mosque of Niamey
The Great Mosque of Niamey is an Islamic mosque and also the largest in the capital city. It was built in the 1970's and funded with money from neighbouring country Libya. It's open 24 hours, so attracts both locals and tourists around the clock. As long as you're respectful, it's fine to enter and even take photos. There's one single minaret with 171 steps towering above the rest of the mosque, but didn't seem to be open for tourist usage.
When assessing accommodation options, I was shocked at the limited options in Niamey, as well as the very high costs involved. I decided to stay at Noon Hotel due to it's central location in the city, as many tourists spots were within walking distance. The hotel was clean, the rooms were spacious, there was a nice pool area, and a high speed WiFi connection. Aside from cost, the only downside was that the restaurant within the premises was very average.
Being honest, I wasn't expecting much in regard to food options, especially after being disappointed with the hotel dining options. However, I then came across Cote Jardin and my opinion changed. What a gem of a restaurant in the capital city. A beautiful outdoor garden setting, friendly staff, and delicious food. In addition, there's a great selection of local beers. Do not miss this place!
As guides go, I can definitely recommend the use of Abdul Ben Dani during your Niamey stay. He's reliable, fast to respond ahead of your visit, enthusiastic, and speaks perfect English. His Whatsapp is +227 9894 1133. He can also assist with day trips outside of the capital, although this wasn't possible during my trip due to new security measures outside of the city.