The plan for day 7 was to catch a share taxi south to the Senegal River, cross over into Senegal, catch another share taxi to St. Louis before continuing the journey onto Dakar tomorrow.
After getting up at ~6:30am we managed to find a taxi to take us to the Garage Rosso. Our taxi driver took us past where some minibus's were going to Rosso. There was one ready to leave just after 7am and we bought tickets for 2500 MRO each (~$8).
A goat strapped to the top of our mini-bus. He would continue bleating away at random moments while we sped our way south.
Inside our ride to the border. Not too cramped and perfectly bearable for the 176 kilometre drive.
Crossing the arid desert landscape of Mauritania.
One of the 'tricks' to travelling in Mauritania is to have a fiche prepared with your passport and visa details. This is to save time by simply handing a copy to the police at the frequent checkpoints (rather than have them copy out everything manually). We ended up handing out 5-6 of them on the 2.5 hour drive.
Unloading the mini-bus after we arrived at Rosso at about 10am. Luckily the goat survived and was still bleating away! The mini-bus stop was ~1-2k from the border so we decided to just walk.
Walking through Rosso on the way to the border. We managed to find the pedestrian crossing (40 MRO for a ticket) where they checked our passports, cash and even offered to sell us a yellow fever certificate.
Catching a pirogue across the Senegal River on the way to Senegal. There was a ferry but we missed it by mere minutes. Jordan had heard of stories of people being held 'ransom' in the small boats half-way across the border until they paid extra cash, but luckily this didn't happen.
After a bit of waiting at the Senegalese border we finally made it into Senegal and made the ~2k walk to the Garage to catch a share taxi to St. Louis.
At the garage where we caught a very well used Peugeot 504 share taxi for the final journey to St. Louis. The price was 5200 CFA for both of us, or about 20% of what we were quoted for a private taxi.
And a selfie with two of my seat mates.
The road was in very good condition and we made it to our destination of St. Louis at about 1:30pm.
We then walked the 1-2 kilometres west to the Faidherbe Bridge, which links the mainland to the island of the city of St. Louis. It was built in 1897 and refurbished in the 2000's.
We then walked across the bridge to St. Louis island in the middle of the Senegal River, with our hotel located just over the other side.
Hôtel de la Poste for our one night stay in St. Louis. The old colonial hotel was where pilots used to stay on stopovers when they were flying from South America to France via West Africa.
My room for the night. Very clean and modern.
And the view of the river and Faidherbe Bridge from my balcony.
At about 2pm we headed to the river side Flamingo restaurant. While Jordan had the fish I had tasty African Zebu steak and couscous.
We then went for a stroll around the streets of St. LouisSt. Louis was established in 1659 by French traders on the uninhabited island called Ndar, and was the first permanent French settlement in Senegal.
St. Louis was the capital of the French colony of Senegal from 1673 until 1902 and French West Africa from 1895 until 1902.
Looking over to the fishing village of Guet N’Dar.
Tourism is an important part of St. Louis' economy. However the recent Ebola outbreak in West Africa (although only one reported case in Senegal) has resulted in much fewer visitors.
Hall of Celebrations.
It was a great to wander aimlessly through the streets and take in the colonial French architecture.
Waiting at the front door.
Buying some water.
After the big travel day and relaxing stroll in the afternoon, we went back to the Flamingo restaurant and recuperated with some delicious pizza for dinner.
And couldn't resist the chocolate and cream profiteroles for dessert.
I got up early and went for a run down to the southern end of the island before catching up with Jordan for breakfast at the hotel at the start of day 8.
The hotel restaurant walls and ceiling were covered with the illustrations of the flights from France to South America via Senegal by the pioneering aviation company Aéropostale. The company name still lives on in the form of a US apparel company (Aéropostale).
We then went for a stroll across the bridge to Guet N’Dar.
Guet N’Dar is on the Langue de Barbarie peninsula and is a busy fishing town.
Playing football on the beach by the Atlantic Ocean.
We then walked back to the island to buy some souvenirs and saw some interesting postcards.
Outside the Art Deco era post office opposite our hotel.
We then went to the La Résidence Hotel.
And I had some spicy fish and coucous for lunch.
We then caught a taxi out to the Garage for the ~ 250 kilometre trip to the Capital city of Dakar. Seats were 5000 CFA + 500 for bags, although we got an extra seat for some more room in the cramped back seat.
After 3.5 hours stuck in the back of the share taxi, we finally made it to the outskirts of Dakar.
We were dropped off at a new bus station on the outskirts of the city. When we arrived a guy followed us and asked to help us find a taxi. We tried to ignore him and found the taxi's by ourselves. After we found a ride he started hasseling us for a tip for 'helping' us. Our taxi driver literally threw him a few coins to make him go away though!
Outside the central train station on our way to our hotel in central Dakar.
My room for the next two nights at Hotel Baraka.
We then went for a walk through the streets of Dakar for dinner.
Birds above Central Dakar.
Chez Loutcha, one of the recommended restaurants for local food in the Lonelyplanet guidebook.
With a colourful and lively interior.
Yassa poulet, a traditional Senegalese dish of chicken with onions in brown sauce. The guidebook said the restaurant was known for its huge portions and they certainly didn't disappoint!
Our plan for our day in Dakar was to visit Île de Gorée (A) and visit the famous Maison des esclaves in the morning. Then to hire a car for the ~25 kilometre drive to see the pink colours of Lac Rose (B) in the afternoon.
Nous Deux Boutique. The terminal to catch the ferry to Île de Gorée was within walking distance from our hotel so we decided to walk the few blocks.
At the run down Place de l'Independance in central Dakar.
Outside the old Dakar train station.
We then made it to the terminal and paid 5200 CFA each for the ferry ride to Île de Gorée. Jordan having a chat with some of the ladies who were keen for him to visit their shops on the island.
On the ferry for the 10am sailing with a bunch of Senegalese kids on a school trip.
Île de Gorée in the distance. The island is a UNESCO World Heritage site.
The 0.182 square kilometre (45 acres) island is located 2 kilometres (1.2 mi) from the main harbor of Dakar.
After paying the tourist tax of CFA500, we went to explore the island. A statue of an African man and lady breaking the chains of slavery.
Outside the Maison des esclaves, which was not yet open.
The island had a lot of artisans showing off their wares.
An old twin-mounted 155mm pair of guns for coastal defense during WW2.
Inside the Maison des esclaves. Although only relatively few slaves were processed and transported here, Gorée is famous as a destination for people interested in the Atlantic slave trade.
One of the cells used to hold slaves. They were divided into men, women & children and recalcitrants.
The 'Door of No Return'. President Obama visited here during his trip to Senegal in 2013.
School kids enjoying a picnic in the shade.
After catching the ferry back to Dakar, we went back to Chez Loutcha where I had some very tasty fish and chips for lunch.
We then negotiated a taxi for the ~25k drive to Lac Rose.
The lake is named for its pink waters caused by algae and is known for its very high salt content. Fish have adapted to the high salt content but are four times smaller than normal.
Le Metro du Lac. The lake used to be the finishing point of the Paris-Dakar Rally before it moved to South America in 2009.
We stopped for a drink at one of the lake side restaurants where Jordan got a Lac Rose mocktail of orange juice, grenadine and milk.
And I couldn't resist wading in and getting my feet wet.
Our taxi was in a pretty decrepit state, so we had to give it a push start to get it going for the journey back to Dakar.
Dinner for our last night in Dakar was at the Farid Lebanese restaurant, a top rated Dakar establishment on Tripadvisor.
After having my fix of Senegalese cuisine at Chez Loutcha, I opted for Tex-Mex Chicken Fajita's for dinner.
And some sweet Lebanese pistachio mousse to finish.
At the 5000 CFA / $9 lounge at Dakar International Airport for our early morning flight on day 10.
Boarding the Air Maroc 737 for the 6:25am flight to Casablanca.
Omelette and pastries for breakfast.
On the tarmac waiting for the bus to the terminal with thankfully blue skies for our second transit in Morocco.
As our onward flight to Niamey wasn't until this evening, we caught the train again to see some of Casablanca.
Moroccan flags flying at Place Mohammed V in central Casablanca.
We then headed for lunch at Restaurant Al Mounia which served traditional Moroccan cuisine.
I had developed a bit of a taste for Pastella on my last trip to Morocco in 2012 and was keen to try it again. Pastella combines sweet and salty flavours with a combination of crêpe-like dough, savory meat slow-cooked in broth and spices, and a crunchy layer of toasted and ground almonds, cinnamon, and sugar. Delicious!
After a tasty lunch, we headed out to explore Casablanca.
Mail slots at the post office.
The Art Deco Rialto Cinema.
Casablanca has a number of buildings built in Art Deco and Mauresque (French/Moorish) architecture.
At the Marche Central.
We then went for a walk in the old medina. 'Be son of whoever but behave well'.
Fruits & vegetables.
We then walked down to see the Hassan II Mosque. At 210 metres, the minaret is the tallest religious structure in the world.
We then caught a taxi to Casa Voyageurs for the train ride back to the airport.
Chicken and rice for dinner at the airport again before our Air Maroc flight to Niamey.
After departing Casablanca at ~8:30pm and a longer than expected ~2 hour stop in Burkina Faso, we finally flew into Niamey at ~3:30am.
Our hotel shuttle was waiting for us, and I was in bed at the Terminus Hotel just after 4am, ~24 hours after leaving the hotel in Dakar.
The view from my window when I opened the curtains on the morning of day 11.
I met up for breakfast with Jordan at 9:30am and we planned our day in Niamey. As the sights in Niamey were limited we agreed to try and head out of the city for the ~60 kilometre drive to Kouré to see West Africa’s last remaining herd of giraffes.
One of the many peacocks (and pea hens) strutting around the hotel grounds.
A driver met us in the hotel lobby and we negotiated 55,000 CFA for the drive to see the giraffe's and see some of the sights of Niamey. We then stopped for petrol to get ready for the offroad beating the the 4WD Toyota Corolla was about to endure.
Heading east on the outskirts of Niamey.
After ~45 minutes of driving we got to Kouré.
We had to pay 35,000 CFA total for a vehicle fee, compulsory guide fee, camera fee as well as entrance fee for us and our driver. They were all official fees and the same as quoted in our guidebook so were as expected.
After driving east for a bit, we went off-road into the park. We then stopped at a well where two ladies were drawing water. The lady on the left is admonishing me for taking her photo, the one on the right is asking for a tip for taking her photo.
The land was very arid and probably alot drier to what east african giraffe's are used to.
After driving for a while we finally found our first giraffe, a lone female.
Over the past few decades the last herd of West African giraffes has shrunk in size from more than 3000 down to an anaemic 50 in 1996.
We then continued driving along sandy unmarked trails for quite a while until we found a small group of three giraffe's. With these animals facing extinction they were not so easy to find!
Thankfully, conservation efforts since the 1990s have led to a growth in population to 413 now today.
Waving to some kids while driving through a small village.
While we were driving through however we managed to puncture the tyre sidewall!
After a 10 minute tyre change we were on our way again though.
After more offroad driving and lots of searching, we finally hit the mother lode with a large group of 21 giraffe's sheltering under the tree's.
As I didn't have my telephoto lens with me, it was a bit of a challenge to see how close I could get without disturbing them.
It was a really magical and memorable experience to be able to walk amongst these magnificient and beautiful creatures.
We then went on a gravel road for the drive back to Kouré. We soon got another puncture however!!! Luckily our driver flagged down a passing motorbike, and hitched a ride with the tyre to Kodo village to get a temporary repair done.
We then sheltered from the heat under a tree to await his return with the fixed tyre.
The driver returned after ~30 minutes and we drove down to Kodo to get a more permanent repair done.
At the 'Tyre Shop' in Kodo.
While we waited for the repairs to be done, we decided to explore the bustling Kodo Sunday market.
Not sure if these cheap chinese medications were actually real?
Stopping to talk to a guy who knew half decent English.
Under the tree.
Jordan having a chat with a local lady and surrounded by seemingly half the village!
Men preparing the beef kebabs.
Unfortunately we didn't have the time to try any.
Some chickens hitching a ride.
Colourful clothing that the ladies were wearing.
Back at the tyre shop with some of the kids who had been following us about.
We then hit the road for the drive back to Niamey.
We arrived back in Niamey at about 3:20pm but the few restaurants we stopped at were already closed. We decided to skip lunch since it was so late and continued on to make a quick visit to the Grand Mosque.
Musée National du Niger where they had a few animals in tiny cages, including this poor Hyena. Very depressing.
And the bones of some dinosaurs including an Ouranosaurus.
A couple of baby hippo's.
There was also the remains of the famous Tree of Ténéré, a lone Acacia that survived in the middle of the desert with roots that were ~35 metres deep. Unfortunately it was knocked down by a drunk driver in 1973.
We got back to the hotel at about 4:30pm and walked down to a Total petrol station for some banana yoghurt drink to hold me over until dinner.
And then spent the rest of the afternoon taking a dip in the hotel pool.
After our first option, an Italian restaurant called Les Pelier, was closed, we went to an Indian place. We had some spicy tikka and masala for our last dinner of the trip.
Today was the last day of the trip. I was flying out at 12:55pm on Ethiopian Airlines back to Dubai and Jordan was leaving in the evening on Turkish Airlines back to the USA.
Fresh Bread. After breakfast we went for a bit of a wander.
We then walked down to the Grand Hotel to get a good view of the Niger River.
Following a donkey cart on a dusty road to get a closer look of the river.
Le Fleuve Niger (The River Niger).
Kennedy Bridge (named after JFK) was built in 1970.
Men doing the washing by the river. Apparently laundry is a man's job in West Africa!
After saying farewell to Jordan and thanking him for the great trip, I caught the hotel shuttle to Niamey airport to begin the journey home.
My first time flying Ethiopian Airlines and on a Boeing 757.
Chicken and couscous on the 5 hour flight.
A 2 hour stopover at Addis Ababa Bole International Airport.
And about to board the ET 777 for the final flight home after an amazing twelve days in Africa!