TRANSPORT & GETTING AROUND
There are no direct flights from the United States to Senegal. Air France, Air Afrique,
Sabena, Alitalia, Tunis Air, Ethiopian Airlines and Royal Air Maroc all operate regular
scheduled services from London to Léopold Sédar Senghor International Airport in
Dakar via Paris, Brussels and Rome respectively. The flight from Paris to Dakar takes
about five and a half hours. An alternative (and significantly cheaper) option is to
take a holiday charter flight directly from London to The Gambia and then take one
of the regular flights between Banjul and Dakar.
At the airport, Air Afrique has a monopoly providing ground support to international
flights except Air France. Air Afrique, a creation of West African states, also has a
quasi-monopoly on international flights.
Air Senegal, the state-owned company, has a monopoly on national flights. Air
Senegal has daily flights from Dakar to Ziguinchor (and on to Cap Skiring). The
airports at Saint-Louis and Ziguinchor handle a great deal of tourist traffic.
Most airline offices are on or near the Place de l'Indépendance in Dakar, but it can be
cheaper and easier to use a travel agency. Departure tax is US$15, but most tickets
include that in the price.
Town Airport name ICAO IATAUsageCustomsRunway IFR length
Bakel Bakel GOTB BXE Civ. No Paved No 5700 ft
Cap Skiring Cap Skiring GOGS CSK Civ. O/R Paved Yes 4700 ft
Dakar Senghor GOOYDKR Civ. Yes Paved Yes 11400 ft
Kaolack Kaolack GOOKKLC Civ. O/R Paved No 5200 ft
Kedougou Kedougou GOTK KGG Civ. No Paved No 5900 ft
Kolda Kolda GOGKKDA Civ. No Paved No 4900 ft
Matam Ouro Sogui GOSMMAX Civ. No Unpaved No 5200 ft
Podor Podor GOSP POD Civ. No Unpaved No 5000 ft
Richard Toll Richard Toll GOSR RDT Civ. No Unpaved No 5000 ft
Simenti Simenti GOTS SMY Civ. No Unpaved No 5900 ft
St Louis St Louis GOSS XLS Civ. Yes Paved Yes 6200 ft 10 63
TambacoundaTambacounda GOTT TUD Civ. No Paved No 6500 ft
Ziguinchor Ziguinchor GOGGZIG Civ. O/R Paved Yes 5000 ft
Explanations on technical data
International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), a 4-letter airport location
indicator. The field above is left blank if no ICAO location indicator is
available for the selected airport.
International Air Transport Association (IATA), a 3-letter identifier for the
relevant airport. The field above is left blank if no IATA code is available for
the selected airport.
Airports are classified in three categories: civil airports open for public use,
military airports and private airports not open to the public. Airports that are
joint use, both civil and military, are shown as civil airports.
Civ. Civil airport, open for public use (including joint use).
Mil. Military airport, not open for public use.
Priv. Private airport, not open for public use.
Yes Customs service available during airport operating hours.
No Customs service not available.
O/R Airport has customs service, prior notification is required.
Pto. Airport has part-time customs service available, not necessarily
identical to the airport hours.
ADCUS An airport within the USA for which the FAA 'ADCUS' method of
prior notification may be used.
ADCUS An airport within the USA for which the FAA 'ADCUS' method of
O/R prior notification may be used but where restrictions apply.
Identification of the surface of the longest runway available:
Paved Paved (hard surface) runway
Unpaved Unpaved (soft surface) runway (Only lighter aircraft)
Water Water (for float planes)
This field indicates if the airport has any officially published instrument
Yes Instrument approach procedure is published.
No Instrument approach procedure is not published. (Airport not suitable
for traffic during bad weather or darkness.)
Shows the length in feet of the longest runway available at the selected airport,
rounded down to the next full hundred feet. If the airport has both hard (paved)
and soft (unpaved) runways, the length of the longest hard surface runway is
shown. If the longest runway is both, hard and soft surface, the length of the
hard surface portion is shown.
DAKAR YOFF INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT:
Airport to City: 17 kilometres / 11 miles. Bus and taxi services available.
Airport tax: Domestic departure tax 2,000 CFA Francs.
International departure tax for departures to another African country 4,000 CFA Francs;
for departures to a country outside of Africa 5,000 CFA Francs.
New international airport, near Dakar, to be built in the near future
Paved runways over 3,047 m: 1
Paved runways 1,524 to 2,437 m: 9
Paved runways 914 to 1,523 m: 1
Unpaved runways 1,524 to 2,438 m: 4
Unpaved runways 914 to 1,523 m: 7
There are a number of agencies from which you can rent a vehicle with or without a
chauffeur. Car hire is not cheap - often twice as much as hiring a taxi's service for
the same long-distance drive - but many of the big international companies have
offices in Dakar. Some smaller outfits have cheaper deals available.
Avis Avitours Sénégalauto
km 2,5 route de Rufisque 115, av. Blaise Diagne 19, rue Moussé Diop
Tel.: 823 63 40 Tel.: 822 93 28 Tel.: 822 42 70
I was also interested in cars coming into central Dakar. There is a fine of $11 for
illegal parking. Illegally parked cars may get the sabot (literally, wooden shoe, what
Americans call "the boot") on a tire. Gasoline costs about $4 per gallon, and the tax
on gasoline is more than 60% of the price. There are pollution controls on new cars,
but 80 percent of cars are used.
While "transportation" is a topic of the economy, "public transit" is a topic of the
everyday life of Senegal. In metro Dakar about 36 percent of vehicle trips are by
private car, about 11 percent by taxi, about 36 percent by minibus (cars rapides),
about 14 percent by public bus (SOTRAC), about 1 percent by the PTB commuter
train, and the remainder by other bus services.
The backbone of transit in Dakar is the privately-owned "cars rapides," an amazing
system that works remarkably well at the same time it seems about to collapse. The
rapide is a Renault mini-bus with room for 25 people. Starting in 1947, there are
now about 2,500 rapides in urban Dakar and another 1,500 in inter-urban service.
Each is painted with a variety of colors, and has the name of the owner and usually
an Islamic phrase. One big company owned by the Mourid Islamic brotherhood and
many smaller ones employ about 30,000 people. The brotherhood also owns taxis
and 35 seat Mercedes buses, the Ndiaga Ndiayes.
While the driver of a rapide is hell-bent on getting
somewhere, the fare collector hangs onto the back, feet
on the bumper and a strong grip on the back door, which
is always open for people to board. The old Rapides,
whose average age is 20 years, are keep alive by
mechanics of awesome genius.
Since there was no subsidy, the 1994 devaluation forced
fares up about 20 percent to cover foreign fuel costs. The
Rapides of Dakar may not look better, but they work
better, than transit in the U.S. because they mostly pay
their own way. Transit privatization is much further along
in Senegal than in the U.S. (Americans should follow our own advice, but that would
require much higher gasoline prices.)
There is also a smaller, public bus system, SOTRAC, which has been troubled by
debt, non-payment of workers (caused by not having much of any fare), and dying
old buses. It has 130 buses and is recently privatized with some subsidy. Its buses,
now about 15 years old, will need replacing. There are some smaller firms, like
SAGAM, a security company providing bus service.
Traveling by road in Senegal
Senegal's highway code is based on the French one. You therefore have to give priority to
traffic coming from your right. That being said, you must above all be alert and cautious
when driving, because the roads are narrow, certain types of vehicles, including express
buses and taxis, do not obey road signs, and pedestrians and animals cross the road
recklessly. If you are involved in an accident, you must stop and call the gendarmerie or
the police immediately. Be wary of accepting an informal accident report or damages
offered privately by another party. If you have hurt someone, you should get the injured
person to the closest hospital before going to the gendarmerie or police.
Vehicle insurance is mandatory (see insurance companies).
They are yellow or orange and black. The fare
is indicated on the taximeter. In recent years,
it has been possible to engage in waxalé
(bargaining) with taxi drivers--propose a fixed
price for the ride. Waxalé is not recommended
for short distances (except in heavy traffic); it
will probably be cheaper to stick with the
taximeter reading. It is recommended,
however, for longer distances, particularly since some drivers will have no compunction
about taking a roundabout route to your destination because you are a foreigner and do
not know the city.
Basic fare: 100 CFA francs
Ride in city : 100 CFA francs/km
Ride outside Dakar: 200 CFA francs/km
Taximeter: day A1/green, night B2/red.
Fares double between midnight and 6:00 a.m. A ride between the airport and downtown
costs 3000 CFA francs during the day and 4700 CFA francs at night.
- Allo taxi tél: 823 44 04
Many of the green and white taxis clandos provide service between Dakar and the
suburbs and between suburbs. Drivers charge a fixed price per distance, pick up a number
of customers for each trip and drop them off one by one. There are special pickup points
in Dakar, including on Avenue Lamine Guèye, opposite Sandaga market. Many of these
taxis are in poor condition, even though they provide extensive services to people in the
Bush taxis travel to all regions of Senegal from the Colobane and Pompiers bus
The main centers are connected by fairly good quality minibuses. Long distance
travel is also covered by bush taxis, usually Peugeot 504's with three rows of seats,
they are comfortable, safe and reliable. Bush taxis run regularly from Dakar to
Rosso, at Senegal's border with Mauritania, from where you catch a pirogue across
the river. The whole journey can be done in a day if you leave early. Bush taxis also
from Dakar to Labé, Guinea, and from Ziguinchor to Bissau, Guinea-Bissau (via São
Domingos and Ingore). On lesser used routes bush taxis are pick up trucks and are
less comfortable with bench seating.
The main roads between Dakar, Kaolack, Ziguinchor and other large towns are
covered by buses (carrying 30 to 40 people) and good quality minibuses (between
15 and 30 seats). On many routes, you also find more rustic minibuses - sometimes,
rather misleadingly, called cars rapides. These are battered, slow, crowded and
worth avoiding if possible.
Your other option for long-distance travel is a bush taxi (taxi brousse). On the main
routes, these are usually Peugeot 504s with three rows of seats: comfortable, safe
and reliable. On rural routes, bush taxis are pick-ups (sometimes called bachés) that
seat about 12 people on benches. Fares are reasonable.
Buses are about a third the price of bush taxis, and minibuses are somewhere in
between. There's normally a small extra charge for luggage.
The bus fleet of the Société des transports Dakar Dem Dikk ("Dakar round trip" in
Wolof) serves most of Dakar and environs. Many routes take passengers downtown.
- 1st section (Dakar, Sicap) : 150 CFA francs
- 2nd section (Pikine, Thiaroye) : 175 CFA francs
- 3rd section (Rufisque, Bargny) : 200 CFA francs
They serve all Dakar suburbs. Be wary of pickpockets, especially when standing in the
bus. In any case, for your own safety case, you should avoid standing. The fare ranges
from 50 and 100 CFA francs, depending on the destination.
The old railroad from Dakar to Bamako comes into the city along the south coast of
Cape Vert to a station on the edge of downtown near some ministries. Commuter
trains started fairly recently, in 1987. They are called the PTBs, for Petit Train Bleu,
Small Blue Trains, which they are. They have about 20 to 22 thousand passenger
trips per day, about 2 percent of public transport riders. There are also some taxis
and some "clandos" (clandestine, unregulated taxis).
Trains run from north to south linking Saint Louis to Dakar and from west to east,
lining Dakar to Bamako (Mali). The service is slow but improvements are planned.
The Dakar-Bamako train is the best way to travel overland to Mali, as the road is
very bad. There are two trains, each takes 40 hours. The Mistral International
departs Dakar on Wednesdays and is superior in every way to the Saturday train.
Large, comfortable 1st-class seats can be reserved in advance; 2nd-class is more
crowded with less comfortable, though adequate, seating. The train has a bar-
restaurant car, or you can buy cheap food at stations along the way. Note that at
each border post you have to get your passport stamped. It may be taken by an
inspector on the train, but you still have to collect it yourself by going to the office at
the border post. Nobody tells you this. So if your passport is taken, ask where and
when you have to go to collect it. You may need a stamp at the police station in
Kayes too, but this seems fairly arbitrary. Train services around Senegal have been
cut and your options are limited to a twice weekly service to Thiés and Tambacounda
(and on to Bamako in Mali).
The old rail going 1,300 kilometers from Dakar to the Mali capital of Bamako is a
major carrier of freight, passengers, and baggage. Twice a week an "express" train
makes the trip in 24 to 36 hours. It carries 90 percent of freight going to Mali. There
is a major delay at the border as engines are switched (the one line is run by two
companies) and customs are cleared. The train crosses the border and stops to do
customs again. Small traders, mostly women, crowd into hallways, spaces between
cars and by bathrooms, and onto empty freight trains.
The petit train bleu (PTB) runs from Monday to Saturday, 6:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.,
between Dakar and the suburbs (Pikine, Thiaroye et Rufisque).
100 CFA franc from Dakar to Rufisique
There is a train every 15 minutes, and the ride from Dakar to Pikine takes 15 to 20
The Dakar-Bamako-Dakar (the Express)
Departs from Dakar 10:00 a.m., Wednesday and Saturday; arrives at Bamako Thursday
and Sunday 2:30 p.m.
Departs from Bamako 9:15 a.m., Saturday and Wednesday; arrives at Dakar Sunday and
Thursday 2:30 p.m..
1st class 31,085 CFA francs for Senegal and Mali trains
2nd class 22,785 CFA francs
Rail links between Dakar and the regions--primarily Saint-Louis and Kaolack--were not
viable economically and had been cut. However, they are now being re-established.
Société nationale des chemins de fer (at the station, near dock)
Tel.: 849 46 46
Competition by roads has reduced transport by sea and by rail to the north, but, to
the south, the road has two border crossings at The Gambia, making boats
competitive from Dakar to Ziguinchor, the Casamance port. The big ship "La Diola" is
an interesting mixed enterprise, with private management and military security, and
the "African Queen" is all private.
The Kassoumay Kep ferry service is in operation between Dakar, and Banjul and
Ziguinchor, the ferry is far quicker than the buses and bush taxis doing the same
trips by road and is a lot more comfortable. Due to the problems in the Casamance
area this is by far the safest form of transport to Ziguinchor (apart from flying).
The ship Le Joola sails between Dakar and Ziguinchor. Departure from Dakar: Tuesdays
and Fridays, 8:00 p.m. Arrival in Ziguinchor Wednesdays and Saturdays, 11:00 a.m.
Departure from Ziguinchor: Sundays and Thursdays, 12:00 noon. Arrival in Dakar:
Mondays and Fridays, 5:00 a.m.
Comfort class (armchairs): 6,000 CFA francs.
Individual cabin: 18,000 CFA francs per bed.
Double cabin: 15,000 CFA francs.
Four-berth cabin: 12,000 CFA francs per bed.
Deck: 3,500 CFA francs.
Tip: reserve one week before your trip.
Tel.: 821 58 52 / 22 54 43
To buy tickets
S.D.V. Voyages Senegal Tours
47, av. Albert Sarraut 5, Place de l'Indépendance
tel: 839 00 00 tel: 823 31 81
Senegal Travel Services Delmas Voyages
55, av. Albert Sarraut 1, rue Parent x Macodou Ndiaye
tel: 822 82 74 tel: 823 18 74
Gorée launch fares and schedule
Crossing takes 20 minutes.
Adults 5000 CFA francs
Adults 1500 CFA francs
Liaison maritime Dakar Gorée
21, boulevard de la Libération, Gorée dock
Tel.: 823 45 45 (ext. 4482)
Fax: 823 80 01
Departure from port of Dakar 6:15 a.m., 7:30 a.m., 10:00 a.m., 11:00 a.m., 12:30 p.m.,
2:30 p.m., 4:00 p.m., 5:00 p.m. (Except Saturday), 6:30 p.m., 8:00 p.m., 10:30 p.m. and
Departure from Gorée: 6:45 a..m., 8:00 a.m., 10:30 a.m., 12:00 noon, 2:00 p.m., 3:00
p.m., 4:30 p.m., 6:00 p.m. (except Saturday), 7:00 p.m., 8:30 p.m., 11:00 p.m., and 1:00
Sundays and holidays
Departure from port of Dakar: 7:00 a.m., 9:30 a.m., 10:00 a.m., 12:00 noon, 2:00 p.m.,
4:00 p.m., 5:00 p.m., 6:30 p.m., 7:30 p.m., 8:30 p.m., 10:30 p.m., and 12:30 a.m. Sunday
or 12:45 a.m. the day before a holiday.
Port autonome de Dakar
Chaloupe de Gorée Pilotage
tel: 823 45 45 (24h/24h)
tel: 823 80 06/823 80 09 823 17 17
Capitanierie: 823 46 46