XT2 Burkina Faso story idea come to our mind with usual “Where do we go next” after our return from Albania ZA. As we both David Ok6DJ and Petr OK1FCJ are budget airlines travelers we started to look after cheap flights to relatively rare destinations. End of 2012 and first 5 months of 2013 it was S21 Bangladesh where we could make trip not so expensive. Regrettably our Facebook contacts to S21 were not reliable and stopped communication after few months. In that time we have already paid for Visa there. It was wasting of money.
May this year suddenly announced Turkish Airlines special promotion rates to flights to Burkina Faso from Prague. I knew it is rare DX destination, but had no exact clue where it is situated. West Africa sounded like a DX dream for first moment. Only for initial one. Purchasing airline ticket everything started, biggest challenge was valid permission to operation. We started to communication with local HAM radio association which representative was very helpful and from very beginning told us we can get XT2 license in time. It took another 4 months till middle of October till we received green scanned licenses. A further one we have to arrange our vaccinations. It was not inexpensive story. Last 3 months I had to regularly visit Czech vaccination center to have all recommended injections. Wives started to worry too, of course Burkina Faso is not Europe DX land.
Few weeks before departure we had 1 day meeting as we both live in different cities to check all radios, networking, antennas and make list of items we need to take with us. HAM radio hobby is not backpack travelling. Our total weight was above 100kg, exactly 23+23+23+32 + 2 x 10kg on board. Turkish Airlines allowance is 2 x 23kg (THANK YOU!!!) , still we had to pay 80 USD for upgrade from 23 to 32kg.
Date of departure Saturday November 16th is here. Early morning we leave to Prague airport. First complication as ticket was paid with debit card electronically Turkish Airlines wants to see copy of this card to prevent electronic scam. I had it, but David called home to find card, make picture of it and send over mobile to show to airline representative. It is approved and we can make again luggage checking and paying extra luggage fee. After custom and passport clearance we purchase books in French about Prague.
3 hours flight to Istanbul went smoothly as well as few hours waiting on airport to flight to Niamey/Niger and Ouagadougou/Burkina Faso. First stop in Niger after almost 5 hours of flight, we remained on board and after disembarking and embarking new travelers we headed off to XT2. Once we landed there first impression was warm weather. Midnight 16 to 17 and local temperature is 22C. Nice welcome. Airport building, first check is required vaccination for yellow fewer. Everybody has it of course. Next finger prints at passport control. We are collecting our luggage. We have all 4 units undamaged!!! We are lucky one. Next we go to custom control. Custom officers when spotted our big luggage with antennas were very curious what was in. I showed them paper in French which I had asked before travel to prepare local amateur association. It declared we are ham radio expedition and all items brought to XT2 will be exported back. Custom officers studied this paper for almost 5 minutes and finally allowed us to leave custom department. I was worried about it all travel, because some other travelers packages were unpacked. In case of opening and unpacking all electronics gadgets and cables we would have tough time there I assume.
On arrival hall we were expected by 2 persons, Mr. Farrouck from local amateur association and driver from hotel. After quick welcome we were sit into 25 plus years hotel microbus and headed toward our final destination HOTEL OK INN. Hotel is located very close to airport. Travel took us barely 10 minutes and we are in. Ground building with reception and approx. 10 rooms and 5 bungalows signed A to E. We are getting E. It is 02 a.m. and we do first terrain recognition. Bungalows are located in garden with tall trees, there will be enough space for antennas. We should go sleep, instead eager to operate for another 2 hours we are unpacking our gadgets.
First morning 17/11 after daybreak we make real recognition and decide where to put first antenna, a SP7GXP vertical 40-10 including WARC. We are utilizing child swing construction to hold antenna. Antenna check and David makes first few qsos. Pile ups are immediate. Soon after it we go for hotel breakfast. It is continental one, croissant, white baguette, juice, butter, cheese, coffee and tea.
We purchased some bottled water & beers drinks in hotel, but of course we wanted to purchase it in local store as hotel one were approx. 3 times more expensive. We went for discovery tour. Before leaving we applied sunshine protections. Daily highs where between 35C and 39C very hot for us used for autumn weather.
Streets where full of small local shops offering various foods, especially fruits and vegetables, many motorbikes workshops and street restaurants. Streets are nice or none existing. There is nothing in between. Crossing of streets was sometime challenge due to heavy traffic. Firstly we withdrawn money from bank ATM and later we found shop with PET water bottles, beer, coke and wafers. On way back trip we purchase 20 units bananas. It come about daily routine trip to purchase it and as we visited hotel restaurant for breakfast and dinners our day food were bananas, wafers. You can imagine that after 10 days of bananas I could not see them anymore.
We are here for hobby and transmitting of course therefore all other activities we minimize, afternoon 17th we put inv Vee on 80m, which performance was far to ideal. Rest of the day we operate on HF bands and enjoy pile ups.
Our bungalow was circle shape, approx. 7 meters diameter. It was organized with bathroom & wc, main room together with sleeping king bed. On two desk we arranged our staff. One position K3 + PA HLA 300V plus + microkeyer + notebook with Wintest network wired to another desk through switch. Other position had TS480 radio without external amplifier with Wintest notebook setup. Unfortunately WIFI internet connection was very bad and we could not connect to hotel reception. We had to move closer to main building. This way we were connected with home and home just staying in garden or in hotel restaurant, reception or pool.
Monday November 18th we put on our main antenna – spiderbeam 20-10 including WARC to approx. 9m heights. It took us almost 4.5 hours from very beginning and finished almost midday at very hot weather. Finally we have 2 transmitting antennas.
Antennas are creating mutual interference, there are not so far of each other forcing us to limit our power usually to 100 max 200W. Very often if working on both radios HLA300V is off. On Tuesday and Wednesday we are trying to improve our 80m Inv vee and 160m LW antennas. Working on low bands was challenge. QRN was S7 usually and on 160 we have not heard simply even one station. On 80m it was better and we made almost 200 QSO.
Before CQ WW CW contest we operated as XT26DJ to give to ham radio community not just XT2 but also new XT26 prefix which was never used before and during contest we signed off as XT2FCJ to make life easier to other contesters.
Over 10 days of total stay in XT2 we made almost 18 000 QSO which we regularly uploaded on Clublog. I would like to THANKS to all sponsors who help us to realize our dream