Dakar Airport Arrival outside shops
Beware! When you arrive at the airport sometimes your travel agent personnel asks you to wait for other fellow travellers. During the wait, if they tell you to go with them outside to exchange money, DON'T. They will take you to a "know-to-them" shop outside the airport and the rate exchange is not acceptable. They usually do this to young couples (2 persons), and max. 2 couples.
If you have to exchange money, do it so at your hotel, at the bank or ATM machines.
Unique Suggestions: Don't be unpleasant and keep saying that you are not interested.
They will not be unpleasant with you. It's only a question of trying to live in better conditions (nothing else).
Fun Alternatives: The alternative is don't panic. There's a lot of people around and police nearby (it's very close to the airport arrival doors). Try to get out of there, saying that you are not interest in exchanging more money and try to walk slowly out of the door.
If you really have to exchange some money, try to exchange the lower amount possible; do it like 10-20 euros. And be smart don't take all your money in the same pocket/pouch. Have some lower amounts available for these cases.Related to:
- Budget Travel
guide and the artisanal market
You have to know that every people work as "guide", but unfortunatly they miss the essential and you will go straight to the artisanal market and it's boring and uninteresting. You probably go back with an expensive djembe under your arms, if you're lucky and you'll miss the most interesting things to do!!!
Senegalese people are very kind but very pugnacious, you have to be patient, keep smiling but firm, explain what you want to do, to see and say no to the other things, but if you're lucky, you will probably find someone kind and it's better to be with someone who know the place, especially if you want to buy something, they wiil discuss to obtain the good price...
Unique Suggestions: Keep smiling and you could say that you'll stay in the place for many days, or that you're living here, It's the best thing to do, try to find a real guide from the tourist office or a the same kind person all your trip long.
The bank scam
The bank in Tamacounda wouldnt change my travellers cheques what could I do I didnt have enoug cash to get back to Dakar. As I went back to the hotel and related my story to the hotel clerk another guy appeared. His brother works at the bank and he could sort it all out for a hefty commision what could I do he had me bent over a barrel. They refused me in Yoff as well and Im quite sure if I had been in one of the more popular hotels I could have found a similar philanphropist . but I had already checked out and did have enough cash to get by on the cheap for a few days so I told them to forget it. My advice take nothing but cash and hide it in a money belt under your clothes transfering a little bit to your wallet each day.
Not a great beach...
Plage Bel-Air (very close to the train station in Dakar) is a dirty beach. so best not to stay here, though it may have been cleaned up since I was there.
Unique Suggestions: Don't stay there too long!
Fun Alternatives: If you must stay near to the city, head for N'Gor a little further away. If you want beaches it is best to head further south.
This is well known to be the worst place to enter Senegal. From all border passages, the border here in Rosso is quite messy and full of currupt police officers in both sides, Mauritania and Senegal.
Coming from Mauritanian Rosso, you have to make all your documents signed from the head cheef police, and remember not to give your passport to the wrong guy, it can just disapear. give your passport when 2 people police men are with you, foloow them even if they say you can't pass, this way you can always follow them and when someone blocks your entry say lowdly they have your passports to stamp! this way everyone will know reducing the probabilities of getting your pasport robbed and being ripped of for it to appear again.
Unique Suggestions: after Mauritanian formalities you have to get a boat to Senegalese Rosso which will cost you 1500UM for a veicule and plus 500UM for each passanger.
On the Senegalese side things get worst eve. If you heard people talking about currupt police force but never saw them in action, here is the perfect place to meet them face to face. open your eyes and open your hears baby, cos you're going to give money away...
for entrance policeman that stamps your passport will ask you for money...doenst exists in other entrances to Senegal like in Diamba or south in the gambian border.
Police will tell you how the customs are closed and you have to stay there 2 days without passing unless you give double to costum staff. Don't give your passsport away to the men that are in the border telling you they will take care f everything for you just for an exchange of money, you can do it by yourself.
Fun Alternatives: IF YOU COME WITH A VEICULE OLDER THAN 4 YEARS YOU WILL NOT PASS INTO SENEGAL! you need carnet de passage...
Policemen in Senegal are the worst I've seen. Altough I know in some other countries in Africa they are even worst (how is this possible??). Even if you have all your documents and papers in order, follow all the rules and take care of people and situations, police will always try to get something out of you. Once a police in countryside Senegal told me I would leave until some money would be given to him...come one...
In St. Louis on a road there is no road sign so I just turned left and he told me i made an infraction and should have gone to the roundabout (250m after) to make the run. He wanted some money and kept my drivers license. I didnt give him money and went direct to the police headquarters in St Louis. I made some pictures with my digital camera of place in St Louis with road sign and from the specific place without road sign to me to follow the rules, the head police was very understandable and gave me a paper that would stop my infraction and i went to the police on the sreet and he had to give my drivers license back.
I had to wait almost 45 minutes to be able to talk to the head police. At the police station they will try to tell you YOU are the one wrong and should come to the police station...wait be perssistent, they are not going to eat you its just to frighten you and with this you can go away. wait and be precistent. tell loudly that polçice in senegal are bad and they dont like it...
Unique Suggestions: On the picture you have the place with no road sign telling you should keep straight. This is right in front of the big St Louis market in langue. On the picture the market is on your right side.
Car traffic in Dakar
If you arrive Dakar by night you'll have to wait maybe 2 up to 3 hours to make the last kms of the main "highway" towards the city centre. Traffic jams are huge and people seem to loose hours on this. Be careful with crazy drivers...
Unique Suggestions: Be patiente and put up some music. If you can come a bit ealier although you still have many cars but not as much.6 to 8pm should be the critic time.
Fun Alternatives: Arrive a bit earlier.
Your car all messed up
Taking whells to Africa means having to loose lots of hours cleaning and put everythignin order very often or you'll not be able to find anything after a while. Order and organization maybe every 2 days? 5 days? a week? 2 weeks? ok forget it...
Expect high temperatures all year round. Best time to go there maybe its in European Winter and Spring. I went in April and was ok although we got max 53º celcius, which is hot but ok. In summer temperatures can rise up to 60 and 65.
People in little villages see tourist a way of trying to win or getting something. This way when you arrive to little villages like this one on the picture xpect children to run towards yourself. Take many htings in consideration:
becareful if you drive cos some kids can actually fall and you can hit them with your car; if you give someting to a boy, others will also want; if you give something to a boy others will fight him; give present if you desire to an elder person to make the distribution; ask for pictures before you make them or children can turn violent at you and throw you stones.
Water in tea
You should take care and dont drink the local water. Sometimes the tea people offer you is made from that non good water and while making the tea, the water doesnt boil enough time. If someone invintes you for a tea at their place or in the street just say yes if you feel like but know or ask to boil the water well.
Unique Suggestions: If you get sick, you're done for a ocuple of days. take medicine and wait, suffer, rool over yourself, head aches, pains in intestines etc...suffer...
Fun Alternatives: Bring lots of cloride pills to mix with the local water.
Getting sick while traveling
Yes its me on the pcture, not lying on the beach cos I was having a great time but I was actually feeling really bad. This was the second time of many that I got sick in just 2 weeks period while traveling in West Africa. First time i got sick from my sinusites that got me into a little crises due to weather changing already in Mauritania, and theis one I felt sick cos I ate too much "Chakry" a senegalese dessert with yougurt and fruit along with couscous.
Unique Suggestions: Take pils to your stomach and intestines, take all vaccines you can at home: yellow fever, tetanus, hep A B, Typhoid also. Bring lots of cloride pills to mix with the local water.
Fun Alternatives: theres no alternative unless you stay home. Traveling to West Farica or Africa generally specking you'll problably get sick. If you eat drink like the local peole even taking care of normal things like wasing hands, food etc...we went 4 on this trip and everyone got sick at least 2 up to 3 times...
The "Slave Island" of Ile Goree
Many people and lots of local tourist info will tell visitors that this was the transshipment point of slaves for the Americas. By and large this is not true, but it serves to bring many tourists.
The main roles of Ile Goree during colonial times appear to be administrative and trade related. It was also heavily fortified and served as a naval guard point of Dakar. There are and were no large slave quarters here. While slavery was partly administred from here and thus serves as a significant historical and traumatic site, the few cells in the "Slave House" (off to the right in this photo) were probably holding domestic slaves and bone fide prisoners.
Unique Suggestions: Learn the history of slavery in all its cruelty, but don't necessarily accept as a fact that this point was the last African land the Afro-American ancestors touched.
Fun Alternatives: Read and learn for yourself - plenty of reference literature on this subject.Related to:
- Historical Travel
- Museum Visits
While in immigration, customs and exit lines at the airport in Dakar, someone may come up to you with some kind of ID card and all and ask if you need help/assistance.
Don't accept it, this is a scam, and the only thing that will happen is that you will have to pay for an unnecessary service. Obviously, these touts are in lead with airport officials (sharing the cash that comes out of it), but they are not able to render any service.
Unique Suggestions: Ignore the touts and stand in line as well as you can manage. This is generally speaking a hopeless airport...
Fun Alternatives: Just be prepared before you arrive with your necessary papers in order, patience and accept the fact you will have to stand in line for this immigration process.Related to:
- Budget Travel
- Business Travel
"Coco Chanel locale"
The sweet-talking and beautiful sales ladies of Ile Goree are using a much less brutal tactics than the salesmen and touts on the mainland. Somehow, marketing sophistication has reached this island but missed out on the mainland.
Miss "Coco Chanel Locale" turned the head of my friend to the extent he had the feeling and urge to buy something from her, and settled for a nice African patterned shirt that he later found was way too small for him - thus I got it from him! Good for me - I use it on every trip to Africa!
Unique Suggestions: Take your time, enjoy the flirt, find something you like, haggle with a smile and buy as a good memory from a nice island and an amusing encounter.
Ladies - try this on the mainland (Dakar) with handsome men!
Fun Alternatives: State clearly that you are not into buying anything.
This doesn't go down well on the mainland, though...Related to:
- Arts and Culture
- Historical Travel
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