The Sindou Peaks: Christmas Eve in A Land Before Time

Sindou Peaks, Burkina Faso

I hold strong to the grips of Anne Murray as the bike’s front tire hits a patch of sand so soft about a foot of the wheel disappears into the dry puddle.

“Shit,” I say out loud as I wish I had some sort of voice activation system for my GoPro camera each time I cried out the word.

I wobble awkwardly as the bike tosses sideways before popping the other direction.  Luckily, a bit of hard rock surface saves my wobble from turning into a topple as the other words that have so often popped out of my mouth spill into the dry Burkina Faso air: “that was close!”

Brendan van Son

The day before, I managed to drive nearly 400km on my scooter in just 7 hours. Today, after crossing from Mali and turning down a dirt road towards in the direction of the wondrous Sindou Peaks, it has taken me about 5 hours to do just 130km.

As I pull the motorcycle into a campground surrounded by round-stone huts wearing thatched hats, I again kick through a pile of sand as soft as Cancun before coming to a stop.  I wipe the dust from the corners of my eyes, toss my leg off the saddle of my two-wheel horse, and look up at the backdrop of my arrival point and smile.

The Sindou Peaks are described by the Lonely Planet as a setting you’d expect to see in a re-enactment of Planet of the Apes.  For me, they remind me of another blockbuster from the past: The Land Before Time.

Sindou Peaks, Burkina Faso

While sitting among the towering sandstone formations of the Sindou Peaks I peer down through the valley as harsh light collides with soft coloured tones.  I can almost see this as a passage way for great dinosaur migrations.  Almost like a cartoon, the soft orange-colour rock doesn’t seem completely rigid, but rather painted.  It doesn’t seem real to my eyes, but at the same time reminds me of my childhood.

Sindou Peaks, Burkina Faso

As a boy, I used to love the chance of summer when we’d head to Southern Alberta to climb through the hoodoos of the arid landscape.  Here is much the same, the flat surface of the earth seems to have been gouged by the angry scratch from the nail of one of the creators forming an unintentional natural playground.  Being here in the Sindou Peaks makes me feel like that boy again.  Actually, I feel like any good day I have in travel makes me feel like that boy again: naïve, curious and always wanting to explore a little bit farther from home.

A warm dash of light touches my cheek like the hand of a loved one, as the sun begins to set behind the towers that stand guard over this harsh land.  I pause for a moment to look out into the distance and see workers in the fields gathering their things and setting off for home.  I can’t help but feel like one of the gods up on my perch above the world.  I feel in control of everything, especially my life and its path.

Sindou Peaks, Burkina Faso

For many, today is one spent with family and loved ones.  And although I may be all alone on top of a pillar of sandstone overlooking the fields of Burkina Faso, I feel so at peace it almost brings a tear to my eye.  So often I’ve come to these points in my life where I am so proud, where I feel so blessed, that nothing but peace runs through my veins.

A grey dust-filled sky begins to darken as I snap from my pause and work my way back to the road where Anne Murray awaits my arrival.  The dust spins from her tires as I twist the throttle slightly too quickly and sail off into the sunset leaving a swath of dirt behind me.  Tomorrow will bring another destination, but today’s will not quickly be forgotten.


Author: Brendan van Son

Author: I am a travel writer and photographer from Alberta, Canada. Over my years as a travel photographer, I have visited 6 of the 7 continents and more countries than I have any desire to count. If you want to improve your skills, be sure to check out my travel photography channel on Youtube . Also, check out my profile on . to learn a little bit more about me and my work.

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2 Comments

  1. Fantastic! I was there in 2005 – scenic, magical, beautiful souls..despite not having a lot of material wealth.

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    • Yes! Burkina Faso has been amazing so far for all the reasons you mentioned. And Sindou was a beautiful place to spend Christmas for sure!

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