I got up at 7am to get to the Carrefour Madrid before 8am. I was lucky to get Sara’s boyfriend to drive me to the bus station, since they worked right nearby. The drive in the morning was great with little traffic and the temperature outside was very cool.
The 14-person minivan to Rosso left from Carrefour Madrid at 8am sharp. I was the 2nd to the last person to get there and it normally only leaves when the van is full. I was expecting to get crammed into the van like most African countries, but to my surprise, they only put 3 people per row, which was a blessing and I was able to maneuver the little leg room I had in the very back row.
Note: I was told that you can ask any taxi driver to take you to the Rosso bound bus station. If they do not know, ask a different taxi driver. Make sure to go to Carrefour Madrid, since this is where it all starts.
I paid 2500 Ougiya, including my backpack on the top of the van. I said farewell to Sara and Cher and off we left. The ride was not that bad and it took around three hours in total. The first hour was pretty smooth, driving on a paved road, but the middle one and a half hours was on a bumpy road, but somewhat paved. During the three-hour ride, the bus stopped once for a toilet break and we were able to grab a quick bite.
I had prepared a ‘fiche,’ a photocopy of my passport (this will suffice) and visa page put together. Sara told me that there will be numerous police check points, but none of them asked for a fiche at all. I did make around 10 copies, but ended up using only one at the border. The police asked me for a fiche before going to the immigration section.
The minivan dropped us about a kilometer away from the border point, where there were several hagglers asking me for a taxi ride. I was with a few other Senegalese, so I just followed them and paid 200 Ougiya for the shared taxi ride to the border. You can walk it, but the afternoon heat was pretty strong.
Upon arrival, I was swarmed with random dudes trying to carry my bag, but I ignored them. I followed one guy to go change my remaining Ougiya into Senegalese Francs. Make sure to know the exchange rate, since they will try to rip you off, but at the end I got an even better rate then the going one available over the internet.
To walk across the border, you just have to ask around to find out where the exit point is. It was a short 200 meter walk from where I was dropped off. The police asked me for my passport and fiche and then I was sent to a door next door. Some random guy who had “pieton 40 Ougiya” tickets asked me to pay the amount to go through via foot. I told him I don’t have any Ougiya left and after about 10 seconds, he just let me through. Once out and facing Senegal on the other side of the river, go towards to the right and there will be an immigration window (there was no paper to fill out nor did they check my bag – there was no customs, so don’t worry).
I got my passport stamped and then intended on getting on the free ferry (the proper one that carries the cars), but my recommendation is to go with the paying little boats, since they were much faster. The small fishing boats cost 100 Ougiya and they might charge 200 for a foreigner, which includes the bag. The problem was that the ferry took a long time to come back and forth and at the same time, it took almost one hour to load the cars. Pay the extra couple hundred Ougiya so that you don’t lose time. If you changed all your money, you can pay in Francs.
There were no life jackets on these boats, but in case something happens, you can jump into the water and swim the short 400 meters in distance. If it does happen, I recommend you to stay away from the locals, since they don’t know how to swim and you may most likely drown with them, while they hold on to you panicking. I don’t think there are crocodiles in the water, but check in advance.
Once I got to Senegal, the policeman greeted me and took my passport and I proceeded to the police station for a stamp. The process was quick and I did not need a visa and the stamp was free. Once again, there was no paper to fill out.
I then took a motorbike to the ‘sept place (7 seats)’ bus station for 300 Francs, but be ready to haggle, since they started from 1000, quickly dropped to 500 and I offered 200, and then it became 300. You can easily walk the one kilometer or so, but once again, it was scorching hot and I was in no mood to do so.
At the ‘sept place’ station, there will be shared cars towards your final destination. I waited at the St. Louis destination and had to wait around 15 minutes for the old Peugeot station wagon to be full. Unfortunately, I got stuck in the back row, which had very little room and three of us were crowded in like sardines. It especially sucks when the lady sitting next to you is about 1.5 times your size. The trip costs 2200 one-way with an additional 1000 for the luggage. I should have just told the guy I was going to pay for two places and give him 4400 to save a spot for my bag. That would have been a better arrangement. I don’t think the locals paid anything for their luggage…
The 95 kilometer journey took around two hours, since there were custom (once out of the sept place, there will be a policeman checking the goods – he did not check mine) and police stops on the way. Besides, the car was going at around 60km/hr which was super slow, while the normal cars were speeding by at around 100km/hr.
I arrived at the St. Louis bus station and took a taxi for 500 Franc to the Flamingo Bar on St. Louis Island. Make note that the taxi drivers will offer outrageous amounts like 2000 or even 1000, but just ignore them and move on. There will be a person that will go for 500. The rate is fixed at 500 France wherever you go in St. Louis.
If you are planning on making this trip, it will take anywhere from 6-8 hours. Good luck!
You can check out my blog on St. Louis and going from St. Louis to Dakar by public transportation.
Traveled in July 2017.