Worried about traveling across Senegal? Here is a guide on means of transport available in the country.
Moving to Senegal probably means you will have to travel here and there, whether you are working or not. The country host various means of transport, including very typical and unique means of transport which can help you avoid traffic jams. But if you have a valid driver's license, you can even rent a car in Senegal. In all cases, traveling across Senegal will depend upon the purpose and on your budget also.
Among the public means of transport available, you have boats, Mouride buses, fast cars, trains, Dakar Dem Dikk, as well as illegal taxis (clandos) and “occas”.
Senegalese use tracks more often than they use roads. In fact, tracks generally extend over some 20,000 connecting the rural villages to one another. Moreover, in terms of maintenance and condition, these are more appropriate than traditional roads. You are also likely to be exposed to an idyllic picture whereby clouds of orange dirt will be surrounding every vehicle.
On the other hand, the country has some 4,000 miles of tarred and maintained roads which will allow you to travel from one region to another. However, some of these have been severely damaged during heavy rainfall, particularly around late November, creating huge potholes.
To travel from Dakar to Ziguinchor, you can board the Omega which is a commercial and cargo vessel. It is found at the Dakar port and is available twice a week. Note that the boat usually stops at the Diogue river mouth, as well as at Carabane.
If you wish to explore the Casamance, the Willis, which also connects Dakar to Ziguinchor twice a week (on Thursdays and Sundays), will welcome you. You can choose from three offers, namely from a simple seat at the berth to a cabin so as to travel more comfortably over 324 km during 15 hours.
You are likely to find bus stations in all Senegalese cities and towns. These generally operate on a 24/7 basis. Note that Dakar has the country's most developed and effective bus stations, along with a very dynamic traffic. But many other cities are almost as active and bustling as the capital city.
If you are planning a long trip across the country, advance booking is recommended. However, rates may be higher if you are carrying heavy luggage. In general, these buses are not likely to be very modern and comfortable. These rather look like bush taxis. You can as well opt for station wagons, vans, minibuses and common buses so as to avoid crowded and noisy buses and coaches.
In Dakar, in particular, you can choose among the Firefighters, Colobane, Grand Yoff, Wakam and “Parcelles Assainies Unités 26”.
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For your long trips, you can also rely on the Mouride bus which are quite comfortable buses, quite similar to those you will find in European countries. These provide a regular service but according to advance booking. Mouride buses are still quite rare in the country though.
Trains are also available in Senegal. You can choose between two lines: one connecting Dakar to Bamako, and the other, called PTB (Small Blue Train) which serves the suburbs, namely Djourbel, Thies, Kaffrine, Kaolack, Louga and Tambacounda. Note, however, that train trips are longer and more expensive than bush taxi, but more comfortable.
Fast cars are ideal for short rural and urban trips, allowing you to enjoy the typical Senegalese landscape. You are likely to find two types of fast cars: the dilapidated ones and those which are in a better condition, that is the Ndiaga Ndiaye, which also provides long trips across the country.
The Dakar Dem Dikk
Every year, millions of passengers travel by the Dakar Dem Dikk which provides about twenty lines and a thousand stops, not only across the capital city but also to neighboring regions.
Taxis can be found anywhere in Senegal. Most of these are equipped with a meter which is seldom used. Hence, you will be able to bargain the rates with the driver. You can also find taxi companies which require advance booking. The vehicle will be sent to the address you have provided.
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Illegal taxis, also known as “clandos”, can particularly be found in major Senegalese cities. These are very unofficial and unprofessional taxi services. However, rates are more affordable. In general, four passengers are allowed per trip.
Volunteering, or “occas” is quite common in Senegal. Hence, people who have a car and who are traveling across the rural areas, whether around Kédougou, Bakel, Kidira, Linguère or Medina Gounass, will give a lift to people who wish to but do not have the means to travel there. In fact, you will often find people walking kilometers in search of a doctor.
Rent a car
Car rental in Senegal can be very expensive, but appropriate if you are only making a short stay there. However, bear in mind that many roads are not in a proper condition, so you will probably have trouble in driving along these. Moreover, the slightest accident can cost very high. Finally, gasoline is as expensive in Senegal as in many European countries.