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Senegal

Curious what backpackers do in Senegal? Discover travel destinations all over the world of travelers writing a travel blog on FindPenguins.
  • I love Dakar. It has a real intensity and busyness with everyone seeming to have a purpose. Aside from Fes and Marrakech, it is the only city so far where most people are enjoying life rather than just moving from day to day. I joined in with the hustle and bustle and spend my 4 days here;
    Getting the Guinea visa;
    Visiting Ile-de-goree, the island where ships departed to take slaves to America;
    Haggling in the massive markets. I got quoted the equivalent of £100 for some Africa print trousers, I ended up paying £2.60 for them, and I still know that's too much;
    Searched for engine oil so I can do an oil change in a couple of weeks. This is surprisingly difficult as everyone just fills their bikes with car oil;
    Visited the most westerly point in Africa, which is predictably semi-occupied by the US embassy, a building big enough for about 1000 people;

    Also after 3 weeks it's time to say goodbye to Ferry and Gulcin 😭. They have 2 years to tour Africa, whereas my plan was 6 months, but I've now decided a year is definitely needed!

    Photos
    1&4) Africa's most westerly point
    2) View across Dakar to ile-de-goree
    3) Pirogue fishing boat
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  • So a night was planned at the famous Lac Rose where a mixture of salinity, bacteria and sunlight mean the water turns pink. However there have been a few issues with this.
    1) The road the mapping app suggested for the last 5 miles ranged from horrific to non existent. Picture the good bits - the kind of sand where the front wheel slides from rut to rut, while the back fishtails along. The bad bits being flat out desert type sand where I've got the throttle open, I'm bouncing up and down over the rear wheel to get traction, meanwhile half the village is getting covered in what's being kicked up from the rear, all while moving forward at half walking pace, with a rather large audience at times.
    2) The plan was to arrive at dusk, but because of the conditions, most of this riding is done in the dark.
    3) The bloody lake isn't even pink the next day when we see it!
    4) Leaving in the morning, all we had to do was ride 2 miles on a hardcore road, then turn onto tar...much easier.

    Photos
    1) The unpink lake
    2 & 3) Sights on the way there. Unfortunately the gopro was out of charge for the sandy bits.
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  • First stop a desert oasis in the Adrar gorge. It's nice to see something other than a panorama of sand. Then onto Senegal via a quick pitstop in Nouakchott, Mauritania's capital, to acquire a Mali visa. The only reason i want the Mali visa is so I can do a quick dash later to Bamako, Mali's capital, to get a Nigeria visa because every other Nigeria embassy insists on me getting the visa in the UK.

    The driving in Nouakchott is absolutely atrocious. I've driven / ridden in many places where people say it is chaotic or dangerous,  but my experience is normally that the locals ignore all rules, but actually drive with common sense and tend to be more aware of what's going on around them. Nouakchott is NOT like this, it's like the entire population has had a lobotomy from the part of the brain that promotes self preservation. Everyone drives like they're playing GTA.

    My next treat is to cross 2nd most notoriously corrupt border in Africa....on my birthday, but first we pass a national park with warthogs, which we saw and crocodiles, which we didnt ☺. The border was actually OK apart from the Mauritania customs guy who wanted 10 euro each to stamp the bikes out. He didn't take so well to me pointing out his vehicle records book had 25 entries for the day before, but his receipt book only had 5, at which point he gets angry and says he's the custom chief and tells us to go to another border (the even more corrupt one). Ferry's and my response is to say, OK we will wait here for the stamp.... right in the middle of your office. An hour later, after some concillatory conversation ("where were you born, how many children do you have, you're very successful to have such an important job, Mauritania is a good country, it's my birthday today etc") we finally get our stamp for free.

    Once over the border it becomes clear how different mauritania and senegal are, in senegal there are so many colours, so many more people and everyone seems an extrovert.  Now I'm at the famous overlanding spot near St Louis called Zebrabar with a birthday beer and I've seen my first wild monkey. The view here is pretty damn good.

    Photos
    1) Terjit oasis
    2) Adrar gorge
    3 & 5) View from Zebrabar
    4 & 6) The city of St Louis, the former capital of French West Africa
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  • 5 hours after leaving Ferry and Gulcin I spot a group of 12 bikes parked up. After a quick chat with the Polish/ Austrian group it turns out we're going to the same place, le petite cote. So we join up. The first night involves some typically Polish drinking which is an experience for my head and liver after hardly drinking for 6 weeks!

    The next day we go on a pirogue trip up the Saloum delta, but first we have to go to the next village which involves 12 people getting a ride from a battered old Peugeot 405. 2 in the front including the driver, 3 in the back, 2 in the boot, 6 on the roof, but before we can go anywhere the driver has the hammer the passenger door shut.

    The boat trip itself was great, seeing the mangrove swamps and lots of birds. The boat even got stuck on a sandbar on the way back so we all had to lean the boat perilously over towards the crocodile inhabited water. Most worryingly though my premium quality Africa print trousers have ripped.

    In the afternoon I have a little ride up and down the beach without all the baggage. The bike feels much better without all the extras bouncing up and down with it. After going up and down for ten miles I think it would be a good idea to get some dramatic video footage in front of the shipwreck. So I start being a yob and doing donuts in front of a shipwreck, predictably this ends up in me laying in the sand. Pick the bike up, and it won't start as I need to wait for the petrol to drain, meanwhile I tensly watch the tide come in and start lapping at the back wheel, but she starts. Then it turns out I actually pressed the wrong button and don't have it filmed.

    In the evening I find out there is the local annual wrestling competition, Senegal's national sport. To be fair I saw more build up than actual Wrestling but the rituals the crowd and the wrestlers go through are quite something, including drumming, call and respond chanting, animated dancing, throwing of leaves, throwing water out of a hollowed out animal horn, drawing in the sand. The wrestling itself is a little tactical. I was expecting these huge men, mostly 6ft 6+, to start throwing each other around. The reality though is that 95% of the time is spent playing slapsies.

    Photos
    1 & 5) Pirogue trip
    2) Everyday traffic
    3 & 4) View from my tent
    6) Wrestling
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  • Heute ging es mit der Pferde-Rikscha durch die belebten Straßen von Saint-Louis. Die Stadt nahe der Grenze zu Mauretanien ist durch seinen französischen Charme eine der schönsten Städte des Senegals. Auf der Fahrt durch die Stadt trafen wir auf viele lachende Kinder, die uns auf unserer Rundfahrt die ganze Zeit begleiteten.

You might also know this place by the following names:

Republic of Senegal, Senegal, ሴኔጋል, سنغال, Seneqal, Сенегал, Senegali, সেনেগাল, སེ་ནི་གྷལ།, Sénégal, Senegal nutome, Σενεγάλη, Senegalo, سنگال, Senegaal, Sènègal, An tSeineagáil, Seanagal, સેનેગલ, Sinigal, סנגל, सेनेगल, Szenegál, Սենեգալ, セネガル共和国, სენეგალი, សេនេហ្កាល់, ಸೆನೆಗಲ್, 세네갈, سینیگال, Senegalia, Senegaalo, Senegalɛ, ຊິນີກັນ, Senegalas, Senegale, Senegāla, സെനഗല്‍, ဆီနီဂေါ, सेनेगाल, ସେନେଗାଲ୍, Senegäle, Sinigaal, செனெகல், సెనెగల్, ประเทศเซเนกัล, Senikalo, سېنېگال, سینیگل, Xê-nê-gan (Senegal), Senegalän, Orílẹ́ède Sẹnẹga, 塞内加尔, i-Senegal