10.06.2017, Senegal (north)

After I cycled one month in the west of the Sahara Desert, the river Senegal, the green landscape around it and the smell of something in the air was wonderful. Water means live and now I was back in it. Senegal is the first black-African country and I have no idea what to expect.


Cost (41 Days, 10.06.2017 - 23.06 + 29.09. - 16.10 + 27.10 - 06.11.2017)

# Category Sum Per Day Percent
1 Food 149.09 € 3.64 € 24%
2 Lodging 259.15 € 6.32 € 41%
3 Transport 46.65 € 1.14 € 8%
4 Miscellaneous 163.35 € 3.98 € 26%
5 Tourist attraction 7.62 € 0.19 € 1%
6 Equipment 0.00 € 0.00 € 0%
7 ------------------------ ----------------- ----------------- ----------
8 Totally 625.85 € 15.26 € 100%


10.06.2017, Day 146, Rosso Senegal: Boarder

On the Senegal side of the river it was less hectic. Here were also many people who offered their help very intrusive but the officer told me to go directly to the immigration were my passport information’s were written in a large book. After a “Bonne voyage” I could enter the country. But before I started to cycle, I filled up the empty bottles with the water from the river.

After 10 minutes, I was again on a quiet and big street. In the dusk, I started to watch out for a good place to sleep. There was no place, I would be invisible for the cars on the street and I didn’t have to drive to far on a sandy path. After a while I crossed a bush village where I asked to stay for the night. The villagers went to bring the town chief for this decision. The town chief was a tall, slim woman. She let cleaned the covered area by some kids and disappeared again. Another man invited me to eat some rice and fish with his family. In the big bowl, everyone grabbed a portion by his hand, squeezed it and ate. I wasn’t able to do it right and left a mess behind.


11.06.2017, Day 147, St. Louis: Arrived at the Zebrabar

The Night was terrible! The goats of the village were inspecting my tent and bike all night long. About every hour one of the goats touched the bike that much that it triggered the alarm and another one was yelling all night long as loud, as a child scream of pain. As I woke up from one of these screams around 5 in the morning, I packed my tent and left at dawn. In the funny book “Coffe Togo”, written by another cyclist on the same route, he described that they rested at a swiss hosted camping place, named Zebrabar. I was locking forward to get there as soon as possible to get some rest.

The northern parts I cycled through there were onions all the way along the Senegal river. The fields reached from the street till the horizon. In the small villages I saw the result of the endless fields. Stacks of onions packed in red mesh bags, so many that you could build a house out of them. Sometimes trucks drove past on me overloaded with onions that in a sharp curve or on a speed bumper they lost some of them.
On lunch time I entered St. Louis and bought some local food but I couldn’t really enjoy the city because I was so tired. I continued cycling and finally reached the Zebrabar. I took a swim and relaxed the rest of the day.


12.06.2017, Day 148, Zebrabar: Lunch on the island

In front of the shore is a spit of land, which is blocking the waves from the Atlantic. The area is a nature reserve and no one lives there. The Family invited me to join them for a lunch picnic on the island. We went there by a Piroge, a local boat type of the fishermen. There were a lot of crabs, pelicans and other birds to see. While trying to get the pelicans on a picture, that was the closest we could approach before they flew away. That’s when I realized I need an objective with a bigger zoom to get the wild animals close enough on the camera. For the crab I had to lie in the sand for a while till it was close enough.


13.06.2017, Day 149, Zebrabar: Planning the summer

I had to make a decision. I was invited to join my girlfriend’s family for a motorhome trip in the united states during the summer. I had to get there somehow. Because Dakar has a big airport with the cheapest flight and I felt my bike will be secure here at the camping ground, I decided to stop my journey here and continue with it after the motorhome tour. This way I had also enough time to visit my uncle’s family and some other cities in the states. It was a good timing too, because I would have cycled directly in the rainy season of west Africa.

 


14.06.2017, Day 150, Zebrabar: About Zebrabar

Zebrabar is a very nice place to stay, so I’d like to share some more information about it. The camping ground is about 2 hectares and close to a nature reservoir were many birds live. In the middle they’ve a big tower, higher than the trees, were you can get an overview of the area. At the same place the bar and the restaurant is placed. In the big kitchen, food for big groups can easily be made. They’ve adjusted the menus to the European taste and the food they cook is very delicious. There are different types of opportunities to stay here. From camping in the own tent or car, to a bungalow with private shower and toilet. Other ways there are public toilets and showers with warm and cold water.

The big atelier is almost every day in usage. A lot of things were created here in a unique style. Chairs, tables, railings, window bars, playground equipment, art objects and much more. From cutting, to welding, to painting or even cementing. That gives this place a special charm.


15.06.2017, Day 151, Zebrabar: 8 More days at Zebrabar

The next days at the Zebrabar passed very quickly. I enjoyed my stay at the friendly swiss family, and relaxed at the beautiful nature and at good weather. Most of the days I worked a bit on the Website, went out for a kayak tour or played with Nora, the youngest child of the hosts family.

Another day I went out with the kayak and observed some local fishermen. They had a net behind their motor and turned it on that the water stream pushed the animals in the net. After a while they pulled the net close to the boat and emptied it on the shore. I helped to sort the shrimps out they were looking for and as soon they had their bucked full they went out on the water to set the net again. I stayed for a bit longer to look closer to the heap they have left behind for the birds and found some more of these shrimps. For dinner I cooked spaghetti with very fresh seafood.

One day I tried to repair my Kindle reader which broke. The few drops of the salt water in Dakhla destroyed it. Unfortunately, it was not possible to repair it.

At one day we found a monitor lizard. Carefully we investigated the animal to find out it was dead already. That was the biggest lizard I came so close so far.


23.06.2017, Day 159, Dakar: The way back home

Now the time has come to leave my stuff behind me and go to Dakar, to couch my flight. First I went with the son of the family to Saint-Louis, the closest biggest city. There was a Gare Routiere, were you find different transportations. There are collective Taxis with 7/8 places, mini busses or big busses. The busses used to be very slow so I decided to take the collective taxi. It’s a hectical place and for the not knowing tourist it looks like a chaotic place. But actually its well organized. Some people catch you very early to find out where you want to go. Then they bring you to the right place and leave. They didn’t asked for money just to guide you, as I knew it from the towns in Morocco. The prices are defined and the taxi was full very soon. Unfortunately I had a place on the back seats, where I couldn’t straight without touching the roof of the car with my head. So I had a 5 hour drive in an uncomfortable position.

When we reached Dakar, the streets were over flushed with cars. And here the people easily make 4 lines out of 3. Not long and the first small accident happened to the taxi. The drivers of each cars went out, discussed a bit and continued their drives. It was just a scratch on each car. From the Gare Routiere in Dakar I took the bus to the airport. Some locals helped me to get the right one. There are no bus driving plans at the bus stations where you can see which is going where or any information’s on Google Maps. In the Bus I had to buy a ticket and I only had big money. That big that the cashier couldn’t give me the back money. Again, a local from inside the bus came to help and gave me the 250 CFA I had to pay for the bus. It felt like the locals here in Dakar were friendlier, then the one in the north close to the boarder. Soon there was the next accident, a car touched the bus. Seems to be normal here.

I was allowed to take a second luggage with 23 kg and I just had one, so before I went to the airport, I stopped at a fruit marked to buy some Mangos. I filled a carton box with 17 kg of mangos and carried them to the airport. All in all, I was carrying 50 kg with my, 17 kg Mangos in a box, a 23 kg backpack and a 10 kg Backpack as hand luggage. I felt like back in the army time and arrived at the Airport completely soaked.

When I booked my Iberia flight, something went wrong with my credit card and I get an E-Mail that I had to go to the Iberia office first, to pay there again with my credit card. The guy there couldn’t help me and sent me to the check-in where they gave me the tickets and told me everything is payed. About an hour later, after I went through the security control already, an officer from the check-in asked me to come back and took the tickets. They now found out that there definitely something went wrong with the payment. Because there was no Iberia to buy tickets I had to pay much more on another travel agency to get them. Now it was very tight to catch the flight and the officer from the check in just skipped the security control with me to not lose more time. I was happy when I sat on my place in the airplane and could leave all the stress behind me.


24.06.2017, Day 160, Zürich: Back at Home

It was so unbelievable. The whole distance I have cycled the last 5 months with a lot of sweat and pain, was now done in less than 24 hours by Plane and car! Before I will go to the states, I have some days at home to relax and meet my friends. But first we had to make jam out of all the mangos. They were all squashed at arrival.


29.09.2017, Day 161, Dakar: Back in Senegal

In Spain my parents and me had to wake up at 3 AM to drive to the airport. My flight went at 6:40 AM to Lisbon where I had to change aircraft. The flight to Dakar hat a delay of about an hour. First, we all had to wait in the Bus to get to the aircraft and after that the aircraft didn’t start. But everybody was relaxed and nobody really cared. I really had a throwback to the first time I came to Morocco by ferry where we also had a big delay.

I arrived in the afternoon and a taxi driver Ursula from the Zebrabar organized for me, picked me up to bring me to the Hotel Keur Diame, hosted by Ruth. She is also Swiss and lives already more than 15 years in Dakar. Unfortunatly I arrived at Friday afternoon and most of the embassies were closed already and during the weekend. I went to the beach for a short swim


30.09.2017, Day 162, Dakar: A day at the beach

After breakfast I went to the beach and met Rachel, a flight attendant from Brussel. She was sitting at the shore with her surf board, because the waves weren’t that good at the moment and we started a conversation. I was interested to try to surf again and she shared the rented surf board with me. But the waves were really bad so we went for lunch together and she showed me where to rent the surf board and to find good food. After lunch she had to go back to the airport to fly back to Brussel. I went back to the hotel to read a little in my new travel guide. At dinner in the Hotel I met Mirko and Lina from Netherlands and we planned to go the next day at the beach again to rent some surf boards.


01.10.2017, Day 163, Dakar: Surfing

For lunch we went at the beach and rented a surf board each for 5000 CFA for the half day. It was not easy to surf, only a few waves were good enough to surf on them. It was so hot (even the water) that it was not possible to do sport for a long time. We had some breaks when we rested in the shadow and tried to cool down a little bit. The locals know that as well so they usually come out to do sport at dusk. The beach changes to a big open-air fitness park. Everybody is running, doing push-ups or sit-ups till it gets dark.


02.10.2017, Day 164, Dakar: Organize some Visas

Today was Monday and finally I could start to organize my Visas for the next destinations. To get to the embassies, I used the public transportations. Mostly some painted minibuses. You get inside from behind the bus, where the cashier is. For 100-200 CFA you can get almost through the hole city. If the Bus is very full, the money and the destination of a costumer in the front is given from one person to another, till it reaches the cashier and then the back money goes back to the costumer. I’ve just made good experience with this kind of transportation. Never had to discuss about the price or to pay more than the others, just because I’m a tourist.

First I tried to get to the Embassy of Liberia, because it should be the closest one. I couldn’t found it on the location it should have been so I entered in a company to ask them. The woman at the reception made some phone calls and found the new location. After another bus and about 30 minutes of walking I reached the Embassy. They welcomed me friendly but told me soon that it’s not a good idea to move there now, because of the Elections. Even in December it still can be unstable.

So I left without a Visa and went directly to the embassy of Ivory Coast. There I had to fill out the request document for the visa and to write a letter to the ambassador to explain why I want to enter the country. After about one hour I was finished and placed my passport there with the money to pay it. Tomorrow afternoon I could pick it up again, but I had to bring some passport photos as well. On my way back I found a shop to make some photos and was happy everything worked so far.


03.10.2017, Day 165, Dakar: Pick up Visa Ivory Coast

Today I went to the embassy of Guinea to get the request documents. I want to fill them out already while waiting for picking up my passport at the embassy of Ivory Coast. The ambassador told me it is only possible to make a Visa request in the morning so I had to come tomorrow again to place my documents. My visa for Ivory Coast was put in my passport without any problems and it was my first visa on my tour I had to organize.

I directly went to a restaurant for lunch and had a delicious “Plats Sénégalais”. A portion of rice, grilled fish and a local jus. With new energy I went to some places recommended by my travel guide. First I went to the Marche Tilene, a big marked where you nearly find everything and after that to the Place of Independence. Both places weren’t that interesting and I just stayed for some minutes bevor I went back to the hotel.


04.10.2017, Day 166, Dakar: Visa Guinea-Conakry

Early in the morning I went to the embassy of Guinea-Conakry to not be too late. I didn’t want to lose another day again. I placed my passport there and could pick it up the next day. Back at the Hotel I met Mirko again and we went to the beach together to surf. He directly rented a board while I stayed at the beach to watch first a bit. The waves still weren’t good and after 30 minutes a strong wind and heavy rain came over Dakar. He stopped surfing because it was too dangerous and we went back to the hotel. I worked for hours to upload the Route on my website. Finally, I found out that I had to get a Google-API and to minimize the size of the data. And it worked! I’ve spent a lot of time for that!


05.10.2017, Day 167, Mouit: Back to Zebrabar

The 4. time I went to an embassy in this week. This time to pick it up from the embassy of Guinea-Conakry. Everything worked fine and I got the visa in my passport. Now I had all the visas I needed to continue my journey and could go back to my bicycle which was placed in the Zebrabar at Saint-Louis during the summer.

From the Hotel in Dakar I had a private taxi to the Gare Routiere. From there a collective taxi to Saint-Louis and finally again a private taxi from Saint-Louis to the Zebrabar. The whole ride was 5 hours and 30 minutes and cost me about 22€. Martin offered me to stay in a bungalow because it was so late already but I preferred to build up my tent. I had to get used to it again.


06.10.2017, Day 168, Zebrabar: Bike service

My tent and all my stuff was still there and in good conditions. Some things had a bit mold but it was easily removable by rubbing. Most of the day I spent to check my bike to be ready for the next part. The oil of the Rohloff gear should be changed each 5000 km. Because I’ve lost some oil in Morocco and nearly cycled the 5000 km I did the oil change service. It was easy by fallowing the instructions of the oil change kit I had from Switzerland. Before the new oil could be filled in the gear the old oil had to flush out. For this its necessary to fill in a thinner and to cycle a short distance. That was my first time I cycled my bike in the last 3 months and I loaded only half of the luggage. After 30 minutes I came back to the camping ground with big pain at the ass from the hard saddle.


07.10.2017, Day 169, Zebrabar: Blog repair

I was lazy to do backups of my page and today I had to pay for the laziness. There was an error I couldn’t repair for hours so I had to restore almost the whole website, what took me the whole day. In future I will do backups definitely more regulary.


08.10.2017, Day 170, Saint-Louis: Back on the bike

Today I did a small cycling tour to get used to it again. I biked form Zebrabar to Rao, a small city at the main road and after that I went to Saint-Louis. On Saint-Louis I went to the middle island which had a lot of buildings from the colonial times. The way back to the Zebrabar was the hardest part. I was tired and the hot and humid weather made it unbearable. On my first small tour I did 60 km in 6 hours and 30 minutes. I was proud to still be that fit.


09.10.2017, Day 171, Zebrabar: Bike bag repair

During the night an animal cut my bike bag to get at my food. Because the craps are very active at night and often walk around the campground, I thought it was one of them. But after a talk with Martin he told me it might have been a rat. I haven’t thought about that but it makes sense because the rats have very sharp teeth. I had to spend a lot of my time this morning to repair my bags from the robbery.


10.10.2017, Day 172, Zebrabar: Kayaking to the bird island

The last time I went to an island some kilometers south of the Zebrabar. The island was full of pelicans but I didn’t manage to get a nice picture. Now with my new objective with bigger zoom I went there again to catch them. Unfortunately, there were no pelicans there this time and I had to paddle back against the wind and the stream.


11.10.2017, Day 173, Louga: Hard Start

After these restorative days, the time had come to continue my journey. I said goodbye to every one of the family and went in south direction. My first kilometers were very hard because there was no asphalted road south way, I had to cycle on this piste for about 20 km. Compared to my first arrival in Senegal, now after the rainy season everything is much greener and alive. There were hundreds of vials, lizards and even a monkey mother with some cubs on the first hours of cycling. To spend the night in west Africa, its usual to ask a town chief for a place to build the camp. So I did and he showed me a place under the tree for my tent.


12.10.2017, Day 174, Touba pétégne: Struggling with African conditions

The next day I get up early and started immediately to pack my stuff. When I want to put it in my backpack, I saw a swarm of ants was crawling inside it. They’ve smelled a banana I’ve packed in a waterproofed bag. Not able to reach it they were didn’t gave up searching a way into it. It took me about 30 minutes to shake out all the ants, without getting attacked by them. I’m not talking about European ants, I’m talking about African ants of the size of your nail. For the villagers it was funny to see the white man struggling with their basic problems. I left later as I wished and the lunch I had to stay in the shadow of a tree. I took a break for about 3 hours till the midday heat and the sun no longer was unbearable.


13.10.2017, Day 175, Touba: The holy city

What the Vatican is for the Christians, that’s Mekka is for the Islamists and that’s Tuba for the Islamic brotherhood of Mourids. The Senegal government does not have the right of Touba. The brotherhoods laws rules in this city. No smoking, no alcohol and formally clothes. To not get in any trouble, I changed my shorts to long pants before I entered the gate. The big mosque with more than 5 minarets is the landmark of the city. The high tower can be seen from a very far distance.

At the village where I stopped to pass the night, I was invited from the son of the town chief, to sleep in his backyard. He offered me a coffee tuba. I’ve often heard about that in Dakar but never tried it because I usually don’t like and drink coffee. The coffee beans for the “Coffee Tuba” are roasted with pepper and that gives it a very special taste, I actually liked much more than the normal coffee.


14.10.2017, Day 176, Kaffrine: First flat tire

On my GSP-Map there should be a river. All I’ve found was a dried notch. But the kids really enjoyed to play in the hilly area. Especially most of Senegal is very flat.

In an unconcentrated moment it happened. I get off the asphalted road and my back wheel scraped along the edge of the road. Then there was the sound of outcoming air from the tire. My first damaged tire. Fortunately there was a shadow spending tree some meters in front of the happening and I could carry the bike till there to fix the problem.


15.10.2017, Day 177, Ndongoro: Camera repair

I knew the next 50 km will be hard to drive, because there is no asphalt. I get up before sunrise to do the first kilometers in the cold of the morning. There was a lot of fog in this morning. The piste was better than I thought and I reached the Trans-Gambia Highway without any problems.

There was just another one. In the last two days my Nikon camera didn’t worked anymore. In a quiet moment of the hot midday sun, I started to disassembly the camera to find the problem. The flap behind the mirror for the sensor didn’t open anymore. The motor was trying to open but it stuck at some point. After a while I managed to deblock the flap-mechanism and the camera worked again. Maybe just a grain of sand.


16.10.2017, Day 178, Boarder to Gambia

It was only a 5 km way to the boarder. These were quickly driven and I entered to the next country Gambia.