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 St Louis to Dakar

St Louis is a city in Senegal that used to be the capital of French Africa.  St Louis offers the following points of interest for tourists and photographers;

  • UNESCO world heritage site, St Louis Island
  • Nightlife and restaurants on St Louis Island
  • Hotel de la Poste
  • Pont Faidherbe (bridge)
  • Colorful fishing boats
  • Trips to Djoudj National Bird Sanctuary (Bird watching)
  • Trips to La Broussarde

I would recommend staying on St Louis Island, it’s the safest place in St Louis area and tourists are accepted.  There are many good value hotels and restaurants on the Island.

Sunset in St Louis, SenegalSunset in St Louis, Senegal

St Louis was the capital city of French Africa until 1902, therefore you’ll see lots of French colonial buildings, not very well maintained but some good to take pictures of.  The buildings that have been well maintained and restored are found around the center of the island and Hotel de la Poste.  The famous place to stay in St Louis is Hotel de la Poste, as well as being the most respected hotel on the island they have a tour desk where you can book tours to La Broussarde or Djoudj National Bird Sanctuary (Bird watching).

You’ll see many colorful fishing boats which offer the best photography opportunities on the island.  I wouldn’t recommend walking around the island at night but I felt safe during the evening before dark.

St Louis, Senegal

St Louis, Senegal

Most cities that you visit with colonial buildings will have had them maintained in some way.  In St Louis, Senegal you will see what happens to French colonial buildings when they are not maintained.  The streets or houses are not paved, the garbage is everywhere.  There are nicer parts to St Louis Island but you’ll witness that a lot of it hasn’t been well kept.  I wouldn’t recommend walking up this street with your camera (above)!

As you walk around the island you’ll be approached by hecklers on the street trying to sell their African art, Senegal t-shirts or a horse drawn carriage tour around the city.

Pont Faidherbe, St Louis, Senegal

Pont Faidherbe, St Louis, Senegal

The Pont Faidherbe bridge is over 500 meters long and joins St Louis Island to the mainland by crossing the Senegal river.  You will cross this bridge when entering and leaving St Louis Island.  I took a taxi to the long distance bush taxi rank which cost me 300-500 francs.  The taxi drivers will try charge you as much as possible, don’t be afraid to tell them no and that you’ll find another taxi.  They need the 300-500 francs more than they let on so will eventually take you and that price is probably too much anyway!

Bush taxi (Spet place) - St Louis to Dakar - 6000 Francs

Bush taxi (Spet place) – St Louis to Dakar – 6000 Francs

The price of a bush taxi (Sept place) to Dakar is 5000 francs, plus another 1000 for each piece of baggage.  Did low cost airlines around the world get the idea of charging extra for baggage from the bush taxis (sept place) of Africa?  Maybe!  The journey to Dakar takes around 4 hours by bush taxi (sept place), the traffic going into Dakar is pretty heavy, I was arriving midday not rush hour but it was heavy.  The bush taxi does not go on the tollway.  The final destination of the taxi is the Beaux Maraichers Gare Routiere which is still quite a way outside of Dakar.

Dakar to Bamako via Tambacounda