Replies: 2 - Last Post: Feb 8, 2013 1:59 PM Last Post By: goran71
Dec 5, 2012 3:27 AM
Senegal tipsRoute covered: Nouakchott (Mauritania)-St Louis-Dakar-Ziguanchore-Bissau (Guinea-Bissau)
Visited: St Louis, Dakar, Basse Casamance
This came as a slap in the face after Mauritania. At first, one could only wish it was really a land of smiles as projected by numerous billboards on the autoroute approaching Dakar. But then you find out that Senegalese are actually fine, nothing wrong, different culture I guess, but pleasant enough once you get to know them and could be funny and fun to be around.
Bits of Senegal are westernised and easy to get around. No need to spend time writing about ATMs, goods availability, services, restaurants etc. Everything works like in the west, but far more fun. And it is safe. It’s probably the best value for money country in West Africa when it comes to food, accommodation and transportation.
Continued from my tips on Mauritania:
Much easier than anticipated. Change your leftover UMs at the ferry for 1.65 exchange rate (1UM = 1.75CFA official rate in Jan 2012). Once at the Senegalese side the rate goes down to 1.5.
Don’t stay any longer than necessary at the Senegalese side of the border and be prepared for a little hassle. I caught a tout trying to pickpocket my £1.99 sunglasses and stared shouting at him resulting in dispersion of his workmates.
For other Rosso border crossing experiences see this:
Rosso - St Louis
I'd suggest keeping the pockets empty and your valuables in the small rucksack on your chest once at the Senegalese side of the border. And just tout droit after exiting the immigration control zone ignoring all sort of services offered on the 10 min walk to gare routier for St Louis or Dakar. Asking price was 6400CFA for two of us (2200 CFA + 1000CFA for luggage per person) on sept place that was disintegrating right before our eyes. We weren’t able to lower the price significantly and ended paying 5500CFA. And we arrived in one piece in St Louis.
Nice town featuring lots of FR colonial architecture. Make sure you cross the bridge for the Ndar Tout district in between the island and the Atlantic for a nice sunset. The beach is not particularly clean and not as exiting as the one in Nouakchott.
Gare routier is maybe 5km out of the island, to the south I think, taxi 1000CFA. St Louis was full of package tourists. Accommodation prices were sky high and we managed to find a twin room for CFA20000 per night in the colonial complex of the Quay de Musique. Ask the reception of the La Louisiane hotel to contact the Quay de Musique guys. La Louisiane hotel was CFA30000 per room per night and fully booked. Their restaurant does pizzas and has wifi. Had yassa chicken somewhere north from Hotel de La Poste in a place frequented by locals and it was really good.
St Louis - Dakar
3000CFA pp including the luggage on sept place. Arriving at Pompiers bus station from the autoroute is very confusing and the taxis will be cashing in on disorientation. Those taxis at the taxi rank do not want to discuss anything less than 2000 CFA. This is what we had to pay for the 1.5km ride to Av Pompidou. I would advise if arriving in daylight to leave the gare routier as soon as you get your luggage - just find your way out somehow, ignore the touts and leave nothing for pickpockets to feast upon. Then hail a taxi for less than CFA 1000 if you're staying in around the Av Pompidou area.
Nice walk to Cap Manuel. We walked passing the old Palace of Justice, spend some time on the ex military compound, above Cap Manuel, admired the views and walked back via Corniche Est.
Another walk that I did was to Malian embassy by walking maybe 8km through the city instead of walking via the sterile Corniche Ouest. If you start walking first thing in the morning it won't get too hot by the time you reach Malian embassy and you get to experience the city coming to life. Market stalls being set up, people going to work, kids going to school, very impressive. I took the following route: from Pompidou turn right into Emile Badiane which leads into Blaise Diagne and this one leads into Cheikh Auta (aka Route de Quakum) straight ahead to the traffic lights before you reach the flyover and then turn left into Rue Aime Cesarie and you'll end up by Kuwaiti embassy on Cornishe Ouest. Turn left and just confirm with someone that you're walking towards Banc Mondial. Pass Banc Mondial and pass where it says Mali Embassy residence. Malian Embassy is two minutes walk from there. If you find that you ended up at Radisson at Corniche Ouest then you went too far: turn back and carry on towards Banc Mondial. If you find that you came to Ethiopian Embassy, then you really went far too far.
Corniche Ouest is boring so either get back on bus #10 for peanuts or taxi for 1000CFA. Bear in mind that the busses are not that regular, maybe twice p/h and is as difficult to hail the cab as they're passing loaded with airport pickups.
The IFAN museum was expected to reopen sometimes in March 2012.
Don't miss the half-day trip to Ile de Goree, this was the nicest bit about Dakar. Other nice place to visit is Lac Rose, so I heard, but I had no time for it.
You can get immunised against Yellow Fever for 6 Euros at Institute Pasteur on the way to Cap Manuel. I paid EUR56 in the UK and my Japanese travelling companion paid EUR90 back in Japan. Opening hours and their price list is displayed at the main entrance.
15 days Malian visa is 15000cfa, apply in the morning then collect the following day.
Ali Baba was great for food and Caesar’s Lebanese cafe good for snacks and coffee. Both have wifi.
Dakar - Ziguinchore
15500cfa ferry fare, no bunks available the day before the trip but a conventional seat only. Seats resemble those of shorthaul economy plane seats, but reclining to 45degrees with plenty of legroom. Get the comfort ferry kit ready to take with you as you'll need to check in your luggage. It gets cold with the air con on all night.
Reasonably priced food (chicken or beef sandwiches) and drinks are available from the snack bar on the same deck where the restaurant is. They serve hot drinks and pastries in the morning.
The ride was so nice and smooth, hard to believe you were on water at all. And it gets even better once you enter the Casamance estuary at the break of the dawn. Mangroves, water, sunrise, dolphins and at least 10 spiecies of birds. Small binoculars help.
They told us it will take 14 hours to complete the journey and indeed we arrived in Ziguinchore 14 hours after departing from Dakar. Nice. Then it took as much to retrieve the luggage. Kidding, but the arrival hall was hot and the luggage collection system was rubbish.
The first impression of Casamance was not good with touts fighting over tourists as soon as we collected the luggage. Luckily the impression was false and that was the only time we experienced any hassle in Casamance.
One thing that I noticed is that people working with tourists happen too often to ‘forget’ to give change and some asking for more money and more and more until you decide to stop handing over the cash. You should be familiar with prices in Senegal before you reach Zig, so spotting a stupid deal should not be a problem. And don't be embarrassed to ask for the change, locals do this at all times.
Stayed at Le Perroquet, 11000cfa for single occupancy, 13000cfa for twin/double. Nice terrace to hang around and generous food portions.
I had three meals at Le Palmier next door to the ferry port and this was my favourite food in Casamance. You'll be eating what the family who runs the place eats for the dinner and don't be put off if you see no other guests. Ask if they have crevettes and rice. Chicken was good too. Dinner and Flag for 2700 or 3700cfa, don't remember. Ate at two other restaurants in Zig being drawn by 'crowds', but they weren't as good as this one.
Get some caju nougats for CFA2000 from the Mauritanian supermarket on Rue Jevelier (aka Jelne) delicious! It’s the first larger shop as you enter Jelne from Rue de Commerce.
The riverside is nice in Ziguinchore, but there isn't anything else to see really. It's a good place to get organised for continuation of your travels.
You'll find Casamance people possibly the nicest of all in Senegal. I explored the main road from Zig to Cap on public transport as well as villages on minor roads biking it up to 25km from Zig and Oussouye respectievely - felt as safe as everywhere else in Senegal.
Guinea Bissau visa
One of the easiest visas to obtain ever in the atmospheric pre WWII office with round keys typewriter and uneven whitewashed walls to match. All you have to do is to get to the consulate by 2pm for on the spot service. One month dual entry visa costs 15000cfa and you may want to take a copy of your passport to hand over. The applicants after me had neither face pics nor passport copy but they managed to get their visa too.
The consulate of Guinea Bissau in Ziguinchore address is:
Rue SO-07 off Rue SO-12, but nobody will know what you're talking about in case you ask locals for these kinds of directions.
Walk up to the roundabout along Rue Jevelier (aka Jelne - Rue Jevelier is to the north of the Rue Commerce, the road where the market is; the road parallel to Rue de la Poste) pass Shell petrol station, and SO-12 aka Santhiaba is after you pass Total petrol station on the other side of the roundabout. Walk along SO-12 for 10 min maybe until you pass Expresso phone shop. Turn left into the unpaved SO-07 at the tiny junction where the flood relief on the road is fitted in (you'll see vehicles slowing down here). GB consulate is 200m to your left as you enter the sandy SO-07, easy.
Casamance, Bike trip 1:
Rented the bikes the night before from the unassuming shed opposite Le Perroquet. Osman the tout, who you most certainly have met by this time if you're staying at Le Perroquet, can help you get bikes if you're stuck. Btw, saw no shop renting bikes anywhere else in Zig.
As I said, we rented the bikes the night before and we had them until 8pm the following day. It was 5000cfa per bike per day. The bikes were not that great and the tyres did not look too convincing either.
The biking trip took us on the paved main road towards Cap Skirring, then we took right at the village of Brin then another 10km on the piste to the village of Enampore. BTW, Brin is the last place to get a cold drink before Enampore. There are some boutiques along the way, but they didn't look well stocked.
There is a rural campament with those casa a impluvium - house available to stay overnight and it's run by villagers who directly benefit from the profit that the campament makes. Prices are very reasonable: sleeping only CFA4000, meals c.CFA3500, half board CFA9300.
We stayed for an extended lunch in order to avoid biking it back in the midday sun. 4pm and we were back on the bikes. Some 90min later we decide to visit the crock farm in the village of Djibelor on the way to Zig. The entrance fee was 1000cfa and they close at 6pm. However, the restaurant is open throughout the evening and crock yassa is 7000cfa per portion. It was too early to have the dinner so we decided to leave the crock meat for another occasion.
Sept place leaves when full of course, from Zig's gare routier. The ride is 1700cfa. Exit at the t-junction before you reach Cap Skirring proper if you want only to go to the beach; then walk towards Le Paillotin hotel. I used their beach facilities for free as I promised to have a lunch from their beach bar.
Or you can continue with the sept place until the terminus, do a little shopping maybe or have a coffee before you continue to the beach. I didn't find the beach as nice in that part of Cap so I walked along the Club Med beach towards Le Paillotin hotel. You should be able to use Club Med beach facilities for €5, but I'm not sure you want to dwell for too long over there when you realise who the clientele is.
I entered the public beach in front of the Le Paillotin hotel, had a friendly chat with the barman who spoke to Piere, patron de la page and they let me stay on condition I have the lunch at the hotel beach bar. Lovely. And nobody's allowed to sell anything close to the hotel's beach chairs.
The air temperature was at around 32c every day, but the sea temperature was not more than 20c, so not particularly warm.
Casamance, Bike trip 2
Morning sept place to Oussouye. Difficult to fill in the sept place to Oussouye only as locals tend to use one of those 300 seater small buses instead of sept place and these buses take forever to fill. One option is to pay for the full fare to destinations like Cap or Elinkine and then get off in Oussuye. Mini bus should be around 500cfa though.
Rented my bike for 7500cfa from Casamance VTT, tel: 339 93 10 04, (500m from where the sept place drops you off, pass the post office, then to the left). This bike was very good! Ask for the air pump if not given. They gave me the tyre repair kit too. Not that I would know what to do with it, but one day I'll learn, hard way I think.
The 20km road to Elinkine via Mlomp is paved throughout. Spend the afternoon at the Elinkine’s Campament Rurale. Nice food (CFA2500 per meal) and great location: palm trees, mangroves and calm water.
Back to Oussouye via Loudia Ouolof - surprise where you end up in Oussouye. Back to Zig on the 700 seater mini bus that happened to be departing immediately.
We had a sept place brand new people carrier from Zig-Bissau. The sept-place will depart at 7.30 or 8am to coincide with the border crossing opening times. It was 4000cfa + 1500cfa for luggage.
The trip would have been perfect if it wasn’t for the Guinea-Bissau immigration officer making fuss because the Senegalese businessmen didn't have documentations for their laptops with them.
Continued to my Guinea-Bissau tips:
Jan 20, 2013 1:53 AM
Feb 8, 2013 1:59 PM
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