By Christelle | Posted in Country,Senegal,travel

August 7th, 2017

Having travelled to developing countries before it isn’t as much of a culture shock as it was the ‘first time’ even still I do get a little nervous when I touch down in an unfamiliar place. Following what can only be described as the worst flight I have ever had the misfortune to be on, we made it to Senegal. 

The trip had not started on a good omen shall we say, we were boarding the plane in Barcelona direct to Dakar, as I was making my way to the back of the plane a piercing scream ripped through the aircraft, given the political climate at the moment it’s not unusual to jump to the conclusion of terrorism – the screaming would not stop.

Passengers became alarmed and so everyone was clambering to get off at once, so yes …picture an entire airplane trying to exit at once with the background noise of incessant screams. I have to admit I was in sheer panic; within the next minute it became apparent that it was not an attack merely a man who had never flown before was having a nervous breakdown/ psychotic episode…still the screaming persisted. Long story short. The police then came on-board to forcibly remove the passenger and eventually we could take off.

Following a diversion to Cape Verde due to weather conditions we arrived in Dakar in the pouring rain desperate for a bed and a sandwich. Unfortunately, we landed so late we had missed the last boat to Goree island where we were due to stay. Luckily we had a friend who let us crash in his house in Dakar for the night.

Exiting the airport as a ‘toubab’’ (white person) you draw a bit of a crowd. An unfamiliar country will always look worse under nightfall. All I could make out were hands pushing through some kind of grate/wire fence, their palms outstretched. A corridor of hands in wet night and a cacophony of sounds, languages and smells, overwhelming when you have been awake for 24 hours.

Within the first ten minutes of the taxi journey we already seen two car accidents, a rather nerve wracking experience despite the fact I have ridden on the back of an Indian public bus before (I didn’t think anything could top that). Alas here I was in the back of a death cab asking my boyfriend if we would survive, he assured me I was being dramatic ..which I most probably was in hindsight.
We arrived to his friend’s house who was kindly putting us up for the night, I see a man standing outside the door, he peeked his head out when we arrived and I could vaguely make out that he was holding a machete or some kind of weapon…*alarm bells* Apparently it’s standard practice to have guards watching the nice houses in Dakar. Despite the fear and the hunger – I found a bed and the exhaustion outweighed anything else. Sleep at last.

I’m a firm believer in the worse the journey the better the holiday/trip and in this case it was definitely true.

Our Senegalese Roadtrip

When in the planning stages of this trip I have to say I was dubious (as always) regarding the transport, we toyed with the idea of hiring a driver but instead we decided to go it alone with the drivers amongst the group. So eight of us crammed into a seven person Toyota for a cross country trip – one week, four stops. The remaining week would be spent at my boyfriend’s home on Goree Island.

Senegal is a vast country of around 15 million people, a former French colony, the common language is French along with the local language Wolof.

It is one of the most politically stable countries in Africa and as such it has a flourishing tourism sector. Whilst it is a predominantly Muslim nation in general it is quite moderate and as such you can walk around in shorts, sun dresses etc. and alcohol is readily available in most supermarkets and restaurants.
The main airport is in Dakar the capital city and centre of industry, it would be a lie to say it was a charming city.. it isn’t.

It’s hectic, and in the sweltering temperatures it’s not easy to stay alert to avoid the oncoming traffic which seems to be coming from all angles, it’s not exactly pedestrian friendly and you will need to take a taxi to get to the nicer parts of the city. We didn’t spend much time in Dakar apart from checking out the beaches which actually has a thriving surf scene and is a great oasis in the middle of chaos, we hired some boards from a local surf school.

The most notable monument has to be the African Renaissance statue which is the largest statue in Africa and one of the biggest in the world.

I feel like Dakar is a bit of an onion that you need to pull the layers back from, it is definitely worth some exploration and if there had of been more time it would have been great to see more.

Roadtrip Stop 1 : Ocean & Savane Lodge and Camp

This lodge really was spectacular, there were only a few other tourists so it really felt we had the place to ourselves. We stayed in kind of ‘huts’ – ‘glamping’ if you will, although they had electricity only in the evenings each hut had an open air bathroom complete with toilet and showers etc. Surviving without air conditioning was pretty rough but being in the middle of the nature surrounded by such beauty made up for it, there was only Wi-Fi after 7pm in certain areas of the camp. Days spent by the water with a book, really disconnecting was a dream.

PS: A massive lizard/iguana ‘lived’ on top of our hut, listening to his scuttles across the roof of our hut at night made my blood run cold (cooled me down I guess).

st louis
st louis
st louis
st louis

We watched the local kids swim and play, often I think how in some ways it is a more ‘wholesome’ childhood without some of the trappings of wealth we come to take for granted in the western world – I am not glorifying poverty in any way but I’m merely saying it’s refreshing to see children kicking around an old football or swimming in the sea, reading a book. In Europe it’s often the case that young children now come attached with their selfie stick , tablet and/or iPhone naturally linked up to a social media account. The irony that I’m complaining about the influence of social media as I write a blog (how ‘millenial-esque’) is not lost on me, however, I’m simply saying that it really was nice to see the happiness of people despite the lack of technology. St. Louis is a photographers dream with all the faded grandeur and crumbling decadence from a by gone era.

Hope you enjoyed the first insight into our first half of the trip, much more to come in Part II – and maybe we have inspired someone to visit this beautiful country #hereshoping.


Leave a Reply

Notify of