Before booking my last minute flight to Niamey I did not know much about the city. After an evening of searching online I had found out that it was a fairly new city, founded by the French as a strategic capital for military purposes. Before the nineteenth century it was just a tiny village on the Niger River, and that is probably the reason why it looks and feels the way it does today. The city is described as the calmest capital in Western Africa and the city is a good blend of brand new office buildings and traditional mudbrick buildings that would usually only be found in villages.
It was hard to find information about budget accommodation so when we got there we spent our first day walking around looking for something reasonable. At the end we ended up with the cheapest option called “Hotel Mustache” for just ten euros per room, but it was literally the worst hotel you can possibly imagine. The entrance was full of hookers, all walls full of mold, the bathroom only had a pipe through the wall as a shower and a seatless toilet that wouldn’t flush, condoms were laying everywhere and it rieked of urine in the whole building. Even us ultra budget travelers only managed to stay there for one night and afterwards we had to upgrade to the second cheapest option in town that was more than three times more expensive but well worth it to wash off bedbugs and catch up on some sleep.
During the day we went to the National Museum which had some really good exhibitions of clothing, history and culture in Niger, but also some cages with monkeys, lions and other animals that were way too small.
Down at the Niger River we got in touch with a local fisherman who offered to take us on a pirogue trip for just 2000CFA (3€)- seeing a hippo included! In the early evening we went to see the Grande Mosque and then to the hippodrome to watch a horse race for free and had some Biere Niger– the best beer we have tasted so far in West Africa. We only wish that the other sights in Niger like Agadez and Zinder were safe and not hundreds of kilometers away so that we could have experienced more of the country, but there is always hope for peace in the World so that we one day can see more of the country.