After being in St Louis, Dakar was quite expensive. A lot of the upmarket hotels are ridiculous prices, this is because they are at risk of a potential terrorist attack and they need to pay for security. There are other regular hotels you can book which are better value. I stayed in the N’gor area where there are plenty of restaurants, bars and supermarkets. The most popular sights in Dakar are, Goree Island, which is famous for the slave house, the African Renaissance monument, and you can also take a ride out of the city to Lake Retba, which is a pink lake.
I applied for my Mali visa at 9am in morning, it was ready the same day at 2pm, the cost was 25,000 francs. 2 passport photos and a photocopy of the photo page of the passport was required.
I left Dakar early morning from the bush taxi station. There were plenty of people traveling so the taxi filled up quickly and was away by 7am. The price was 9500 francs, and I was offered the front seat for 2000 francs which I took. The journey to the Tambacouda bush taxi station was 7 hours with just 1 stop for food and bathroom break.
There was not much to do in Tambacouda, just rest and get some food. Pictured above is the old train station, which doesn’t run anymore. There are a couple of decent Auberges to stay the night. The bush taxi station for Kidira, the border with Mali is in the east of the city. The taxi was 5000 francs and took just over 3 hours.
From Kidira, you can take a bike to the Senegal police station for an exit stamp, then across the bridge to the bus station. The Mali police station is another 2km further on and you cannot pass it until you are on the bus continuing through into Mali. The bus I took left at 8pm, the police station is open 24 hours, so there was no problem to get the entry stamp into Mali (I already had the visa from Dakar).
The bus to Bamako left at 8pm, and it took about 2 hours to get through customs and immigration. Then on entering the first major town in Mali, Kayes, the army checkpoint took everyone off the bus and took their identifications and passports. Everyone on the bus was from Senegal, Gambia or Mali and had to pay 1000 francs to recover their identification. For some reason, they returned my passport and didn’t ask me for any money. This happened again on exiting Kayes, only this time they only took the Senegalese peoples identification. When the bus reached Diema two armed soldiers came on and escorted the bus to Bamako (pictured above).