1200 km through Senegal

Senegal, Lompoul sur Mer, Kulturreise, Meer, Strand, Anna Oladejo

A 14-day trip to Senegal was on the agenda. The aim: to get to know as many resorts, hotels and tourist destinations as possible. Always on the lookout for the ideal type of round house for our Eco-lodges vision.

Ferry from Banjul to Barra in The Gambia

Across the sea by ferry

At dawn, we set off via car for Banjul, the capital of The Gambia. After just a few kilometres, we were startled by strange noises and smells: our search for a mechanic began.

The ferry crossing was an experience. Every now and then we slipped a few dalasi to the relevant personnel. So, we made quite good progress in the queue.

Everything is relative: It “only” took us about two hours to get from the road to the ship. Car after car, bus after bus, tightly packed groups of people standing in every little space in between, loaded with children, baskets and suitcases.

A mechanic was needed

Upon our arrival in Senegal, we quickly completed the border formalities. A stamp in the passport, the car needed insurance (Ecowas paper) and a sticker for the road tax.

The first mechanic was a young boy. He drove a lap, pointed to a valve and without much ado said: replace it. Unfortunately, there was no suitable spare part in the area.

Attempt to repair a car in M’bour, Senegal

With an outside temperature of around 40 degrees and the windows open – the air conditioning had already failed in The Gambia – we drove for several hours in total. In Kaolack we were able to meet the 2nd mechanic.

He said it was the spark plugs. We had them replaced in good faith and drove on to M’bour and Saly Portudal. The high fuel consumption and a gas pedal that sprang back when pressed down, were without any change.

Our first accommodation, the beautiful Keur le Palmier complex, consisted of several round houses, just as we had planned. Unfortunately, there was hardly any time to enjoy the area. It was the 3rd mechanic’s turn. We quickly asked a few people and ended up in one of the most modern workshops I had ever seen.

Detail Rundhaus Sally Portudal, Senegal
Keur le Palmier, Saly Portudal

The alleged error and a few more were diagnosed by computer. Without further ado, an employee was sent to the capital Dakar, only to discover later that the new spark plugs from the last mechanic in Kaolack were the completely wrong ones. The attempt to have the air conditioning repaired ended in “insults” to the “white woman”.

I simply wasn’t convinced that a part from the manufacturer should first be worked on with a hacksaw and look completely different and would work safely. So we preferred to leave everything as it was. In the meantime, I took part in a dance workshop in M’bour, which although widely advertised was quite a flop.

Especially when I saw the supposed rooms: the mattress on the floor still passed for a bed. The bathroom was also desolate by my standards. A rain barrel with stale water replaced the non-functioning tap. No towel and only a rather stained bathtub. I immediately remembered that I had to visit someone else and took flight.

Dakar, the capital

What is written about Dakar: dirty, congested, smoggy. I was delighted with the great condition of the roads on the highway and found arriving in Dakar a bit stressful because of all the traffic. But no comparison to The Gambia.

Dakar, Senegal

The struggles to change lanes were limited, traffic lights and relatively considerate drivers allowed us to make good progress. Asking for directions was also mostly successful. Fortunately, my driver spoke Mandinka (mother tongue) as well as Wolof, which is widely spoken in Senegal.

Many of the buildings were very modern, the sea was right on our doorstep and the accommodation we were given was sensational. The wife of a friend of a friend simply took us in – without knowing us or being there.

We enjoyed the three days in Dakar and went on a discovery tour of the different areas. Depending on the district, we found classy restaurants for tourists, vibrant markets or fishing districts. The CFA (local currency) we had exchanged disappeared in no time at all.

Beach and market in Dakar, Senegal

Of course, we now went to the 4th mechanic, who was finally able to solve the problem. It was the valve, as the young lad had already recognized just after the border.

Along the coast to Toubab Dialaw

I really wanted to visit L’Ecole des sables by Germaine Acogny. After a long search, we found it. Unfortunately there was no trial run at the time.

Fabulous Beach in Toubab Dialaw, Senegal

I found the stretch of beach at Toubab Dialaw to be a magical place: only a few hundred meters long, but with a fascinating energy. We drove along the entire peninsula to Joual-Fadiout and back again.

Off into the desert of Lompoul

Now we continued north past the capital Dakar via Thiés. Our next destination was a tent accommodation in the Lompoul desert. The car ran like clockwork again, although the landscape remained monotonous. For me, I can never see enough baobab trees.

The dunes of Lompoul, Senegal

As soon as we parked, we bumped along the sandy roads in a jeep. What a beautiful sight: Dunes, a cozy tent for eating and a few tents with outdoor showers and toilets in the landscape. A place of tranquillity.

The fishing village of Lompoul sur Mer, Senegal

The next day we drove towards the coast into the small fishing village of Lompoul. The garbage problem, which is prevalent in many African countries, was even more obvious than usual. Plastic bottles were piled up to the left and right of the road, as well as in the park right next to the beach. The beach – what a treat. Certainly one of the most beautiful I have ever seen.

The holy city of Touba

After this view of the sea, we headed a few hours further inland towards Touba. As we only realized afterwards, this trip was a complete misunderstanding between us travellers. Now we were there and were unsuccessfully looking for a restaurant. I put on a skirt and covered myself with a headscarf, ready to visit the famous mosque. Unfortunately, I was rudely turned away and could only glimpse its beauty from the outside.

The mosque of the holy city of Touba, Senegal

The next stage took us to Djourbel. Breakfast was good: a boiled egg, a coffee from a street kitchen, eaten together with the locals.

Back via Kaolack and the Saloum Delta

We slowly made our way back to The Gambia via Kaolack with its large and well-organized market. Here, too, we found a very interesting type of round house in a huge vacation complex.

By the river in Kaolack, Senegal

As we didn’t exactly feel spoiled by the culinary delights in Senegal, we were treated to a meal of our choice. We had more than eaten our fill of fast food and yassa (chicken with a mustard and lemon sauce).

The last highlight of the trip was the Saloum Delta in the south, just before the border with Gambia in the north. What an experience: 5 km of sandy road behind a motorcyclist to our accommodation – without him we would have gotten lost several times. An incredible view of the calm water, fishermen passing by, round houses and good food.

The Saloum Delta, Senegal

A nice way to end the day before getting back on the ferry to The Gambia the next day. This time not as quickly as on the outward journey. But that’s another story.

Anna Oladejo