Feb 22 2013

Budget update – Senegal

As promised, we have been tracking trip costs so that others have some idea of what may be incurred.  Of course, at the end of the day, it does all depend on your own choices.

The Central African Franc (CFA) is the currency in Senegal and other parts of west Africa.  It is apparently pegged to the Euro at 650 CFA = 1 euro.  This seemed to hold at official changing places, but often hotels and campements would allow payment in euros and used a slightly less favourable exchange rate.

Fuel continued to be a significant portion of the daily budget.  We filled fuel before we left Mauritania, as we had heard fuel was more expensive in Senegal.  It was.  Diesel was about 790 CFA per litre (approx. £1).  However, it is still much cheaper than in Europe and the UK!

Our dream of wild camping was quickly dashed in Senegal.  There was almost nowhere where we travelled where we could park up away from a village or settlement.  So, we camped – in a huge variety of campsites.  The price charged seemed to bear little association with the facilities offered!  In addition, some campsites charged the government tourist tax (1,000 CFA), and some not.  The cheapest camping was surprisingly the best!  Djidjack was 2,5000 CFA pppn.  Most camping was 7,500 – 10,000 CFA for both of us.  The most expensive was at Wassadou, where we had to eat an evening meal (10,800 CFA for both) in addition to the camping (5,800 CFA for both) and government tax (1,000 CFA each).

As mentioned in other posts, compulsory guides are both expensive, not to mention annoying (and don’t necessarily add value).  Guides ranged from 5,000CFA to 10,000CFA per day.

Fresh fruit seemed to be mostly imported.  Pawpaws and watermelon seemed to be locally grown, and were available regionally.  Bananas and apples (and some oranges) appeared to be imported.  In the regions, vegetables looked locally produced, and a reasonable variety was available in the markets.  In Dakar, the quality improved dramatically, and I suspect it was imported.

Rice is the staple dish in Senegal.  ‘yassa’ is rice with deep fried fish or chicken, and a spicy onion sauce.  ‘thiéboudienne’ (my favourite) is rice and marinated fish cooked with tomato paste and a variety of vegetables.  In a local restaurant we paid about 500 – 1,000 CFA; in more tourist areas this somehow increased to 3,000 – 4,500 CFA!

Dakar is always touted as an expensive city, particularly due to a lack of camping facilities.  We managed to find a reasonably priced hotel (Hotel SouSoum) where we paid 26,000 CFA for a double room per night.  We ate very locally – the breakfast bar was a tiny kiosk outside the hotel where enormous, delicious omelette baguettes cost 1,300 CFA for 2.  The coffee shop over the road had a bench, rear car seat and sofa surrounding a gas cooker with a pot of ‘cafe touba’.  Coffee was 50 CFA for a small cup.  We had 2 small restaurants a block away – a mere 3 tables each.  ‘Yassa’ and ‘thiéboudienne’ cost 500 – 1,000 CFA.

Taxis are certainly a feature of any sojourn in Dakar.  The important thing is to negotiate the price before getting in!  Before long, you’ll learn how much a trip of a certain distance should cost.  It cost us about 3,000 CFA to travel from the hotel to the port region (a trip we did a lot!).

All in all, our daily budget in Senegal was a little over £40, which included all associated border fees, but excluding shipping costs.  It was very much helped by our stay in Djidjack – inexpensive camping, no driving and consuming our stock of food in preparation of shipping the vehicle.  Excluding our stay in Djidjack, we estimate a more representative budget at a little over £50 per day.

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