Senegal Part 2
Senegal Part 1. (2017)
In the 2017 wet season I crossed into Senegal from Mali at the border town of Moussala and travelled diagonally across the country, through Tambacounda, to Dakar and eventually crossed into Mauritania at the Rosso River crossing.
This time I’m sticking to the coast from Guinea-Bissau, through the Casamance Region, The Gambia and finishing in Dakar.
The Casamance Region is the area of Southern Senegal below The Gambia and is dominated by a huge labyrinth of rivers, creeks and lagoons flowing into the Atlantic Ocean. At this time of year its hot, sandy, salty and dry.
From Ziguinchor after a nice lunch of steak smothered in bleu d’auvergne we drove about 55km to the coastal fishing town of Elinkine. As we drove in, there were long racks of drying fish which smelt as you would expect. One hundred meters past the drying tables was our ocean/lagoon front campsite.
The following morning we hired a boat to take us to the old slave trading post on Ille de Carabane. The boat we booked for 8. 30am arrived at 10am and then broke down halfway across the lagoon, requiring repairs while we drifted along (mostly backwards) .
The old Fort was small and had been nicely renovated, except for the two trees growing out of the roof!
The resort town of Cap Skering was only a few kilometres away so I headed to the coast and spent the next two days at a beach resort doing some trip planning for the next few months.
From Cap Skering I continued up the Casamance coast to the small beach-side village of Abene and checked into The Little Baobab Guesthouse for two days.
It was Saturday night and the locals put on a display of drumming and dancing for us which went for a couple of hours, which was once again really good. After they finished at our place they moved to another property where they continued until 5am.
After breakfast I went to the nearby ‘plage de peche’ and fish markets. I’ve visited a few fishing beaches between Cameroon and Morocco and this one was the best.
Deceptively large wooden fishing boats lined the shore, buckets of fish were being carried up the beach and the occasional boat was dragged on rollers up the beach by 50 men.
I sat and watched the labour intensive task of 100 guys loading a net which must have been 500m long into a boat. The whole process took nearly two hours.
Over the next few days we drove north to Kaolack and west to the beach at Popenguine.
In 2017 I drove down the same road in the wet season. The two photos below show the contrast between wet and dry.
As I crossed the country I traveled through numerous small villages with tall boabab trees, donkey carts and dry sandy sahalian cattle properties.
After the dry Sahal I opted once again for a two day beach stop before heading to Dakar. Popenguine is about 65km South of Dakar on the coast and home to a few small beach resorts frequented by French tourists and NGO staff on their days off. I checked into the Terre d’Afrique Hotel and chilled on the beach in between bouts of trip planning and sorting logistics for the next few weeks which are going to be pretty hectic.
From the beach we drove into Dakar where I spent two days in the city.
The highlight of Dakar is certainly Goree Island or Ile de Goree not far off the coast of Dakar and adjacent to Cap Vert Peninsula the Western most point of mainland Africa.
Below: Cap Vert.
Ille de Goree was active in the Atlantic slave trade from 1536 until 1848, when slavery was abolished in Senegal.
The island and its colourful colonial buildings have been relatively well maintained compared to similar forts in West Africa and the backstreets, courtyards and squares are beautiful and picturesque. Its what the centre of Bissau COULD look like.
My last night was spent having dinner with friends and in the morning I fly to Lome the capital of Togo.
Over the last two years one of my goals has been to cover as much of the continent as possible by road and therefore see the real Africa, drive backroads, find remote border crossings, meet the locals, see the wildlife and most importantly visit areas of the continent that 90% of tourists never see. So far I’ve been fairly successful and crossed the land borders of 37 of the 40 nations I’ve visited but that’s all about to end here in Dakar. I’ll need to probably fly into all the remaining African countries, starting with the next two, Togo and the Central African Republic. I also have six island nations to visit over the next seven months starting with Cape Verde in about three weeks from now.
Bye for now . .