Transportation in Senegal is largely dominated by a thing called the sept-place, which is an old Peugeot station wagon, seating 7 people. This is a significant step up from the grande taxis of Morocco, where you cram 6 passengers into a regular sized sedan (though strangely enough it’s always an off-white Mercedes). At least with these guys, you’re kind of in an legitimate seat (only the back row feels a little bit fabricated).
Aside from that, you have minibuses, in various states of disrepair (as with most things in W Africa).
However, my first trip into Senegal consisted of none of the above.
I had been taken under the wing of a Mauritanian family, who shared an SUV, pirogue, taxi and ridiculously decrepit coach bus with me.
on the pirogue crossing into Senegal
in the bus to from Richard Toll to St. Louis
St. Louis is divided into 3 parts: the mainland, an island, and a peninsula. The mainland is a bit like any grimey town, the island a cute little artisinal spot with old colonial buildings, and the peninsula is the fisherman’s (or women’s) village.
Immediately I was faced with the fact that the one backpacker-friendly hostel was closed (notice a trend? I want my money back, lonely planet!). I went with the plan B, which was a nameless “hostel” on the island, which seemed in mid-construction, and where I might as well have been sleeping on the floor, based on the life left in that “mattress”. But at least it was clean.. enough.
I spent a couple days in St. Louis. The first day I went to the Parc du Langue de Barbarie Peninsula. Mostly just beach and a bar. A nice campement too, and within my budget!
I took a sept place to Dakar, which should take only 4 hours, but which actually took us 8, due to a breakdown (literally, there was a problem with the brakes).
Got out of the car too early (thanks google maps, but that’s actually not where the hostel was). Note that this is the only hostel in Dakar (details eventually in the practical information page).
Spent the first day exploring the downtown/Sandaga market area. Visited the old train station (no longer running after a collision 4 or 5 years ago). Ridiculously cute building though!
The next day I went to see La Mamelles (named after the French word for breasts, as the two hills resemble these particular anatomical features). On one hill, there’s an ugly lighthouse, taken over by radio and satellite antennae. On the other, there’s a controversial statue, the Renaissance African, a scantily clad family which is purportedly larger than the Statue of Liberty. Both claim great views of Dakar, but that day wasn’t very clear, so not very exciting.
After that, I’d had enough of the city, so onward to the Delta.