This blog post is a little bit on the lengthy side, so I’m splitting it into two parts. You’re welcome 🙂
Oh, the places you’ll go!
There are many beautiful sights and scenes to see in Senegal.
Perhaps you crave the natural beauty of Kedougou. Or the cultural charms of Saint Louis. You might even consider Saly, where toubabs (foreigners) and overpriced souvenirs are abundant. But before you start planning a hap year or much-deserved vacation to this incredible country, let’s talk about your 15 transportation options:
Plane: If you are not living or staying in the city Dakar, you may (or may not) notice the lack of airplanes flying in the sky. While not a common way to travel around the country, it’s usually the first choice whenever you need to enter or leave Senegal.
Jakartas: *disclaimer* Global Citizen Year fellows are forbidden to ride these, and with good reason. If Jakartas and motorcycles were relatives, the Jakarta would be the reckless older brother who just got out of prison and starts a brawl while drunk at every family gathering. Even so, this little moto is a national icon. Usually driven by a young dude (the youngest I’ve ever seen driving one looked about 8 years old). The rides are cheap, fast, and easily accessible.
Rapides (pretty buses): Similarly to a Jakarta, the Rapide is a national treasure. You’re more likely to find postcards and other bits and bobs with a picture of the colorful bus on it than anything else on this list. It’s usually jam-packed, so be prepared to be uncomfortable. It is common to see Arabic, safe travel wishes or a large ALHAMDULILLAH (thanks be to God) written all over them.
Motorcycles: Safer than the Jakarta, and usually not used as paid transportation. This is the typical motorcycle that you’ll find just about anywhere in the world….but make sure you don’t call a person’s motorcycle a Jakarta, they feel that it’s beneath them.
Your own damn feet: No money? No problem. You enjoy the sweltering heat and the thick layers of sand coating your skin. I find that walking saves me a ton of money when I want to go to the larger store or downtown Thiès. Not because I’m not paying for a taxi, but because I end up not going #hateexercise.
Bicycles: Slightly faster than walking, but just as tedious. You’ll find sand wedged in the most ridiculous places (both on your body and your bicycle), but your legs will look amazing after all of that resistance training.
Setplace: Can you actually say that you have had an authentic/well-rounded experience traveling through Senegal if you have not taken a setplace? The answer to this question is no. Making your way through the garage (the place where you find these autos) is an adventure in its own right and a little overwhelming. The setplace itself is crowded, to be sure, but you can meet some really interesting people. not to mention the prices of these bad boys. $3usd for a setplace compared to $60usd in a private car to get from Thiès to Dakar? That’s a win in my book. Bonus points if the setplace breaks down in the middle of nowhere, and you and your travel party are forced to hitchhike.