Feb 02 2013

Petite Cote

All too soon (or so it felt) we decided it was time to start moving again.  Destination Dakar to sort out the next leg of the adventure.

Palmarin is located on a land tongue with the Atlantic on the one side and the Saloum river on the other. This makes it a very nice location for Hotels, Auberges and Campements. On our way out, we stopped in at the very exclusive Lodge des Collines de Niassam.  Here, some of the rooms nestle among branches of the large baobab trees and the resort boasts splendid views over the river delta and the mangroves – very romantic.  We had a quick wander around before saying farewell to the little village that had been so welcoming to us.

From Palmarin, we meandered our way northwards towards the sprawling capital.  Our route took us through Petite Cote – one of the more touristy places in Senegal.  Lots of little villages are dotted all the way up the coast – so we stopped in at a few.

Mbodiene Plage was an unexpected gem along the way.  Completely hidden from view it reminded me so much of the small seaside towns of my youth in South Africa: little seaside houses facing over the lagoon with a few B&Bs and hotels.  Truly magic and highly recommended.  We parked the vehicle and wandered along the shores of the little lagoon.  We were then invited to enjoy the swimming pool and wifi at an auberge (for the cost of a coke of course!!)

Nianing was a charming little spot to stop for lunch.  There were numerous restaurants – which all seemed to attract good crowds, and we found a lovely little shop selling Senegalese fabric.  Of course, we couldn’t resist purchasing a piece of material to be made into clothing later.  The tourism boom is certainly coming, and the number and variety of accommodation exceeded what the guide book had to tell us.

Saly is the place most geared up towards the European tourist we have seen, complete with European style hotels and lots of restaurants.  There were even small supermarkets!  It felt rather odd after our quiet camping in Djidjack.  All of sudden we no longer felt that we were in Africa, but back on a European coastal resort.

We had decided to stay over at Popenguine on the way up, but it was a bit of a disappointment, to be honest.  The campement we wanted to stay at is located in a part of the village bordering on a small nature reserve. Both the nature reserve and campement are run by a local women’s co-operative which generates valuable income for the village.  However, it seemed to me that the fact it was a co-operative gave them free rein to raise the price and lower the standard.  The local ladies also were rather persistent in selling their wares.  All in all, disappointing. We did, however, go to the local “Italian” restaurant where we enjoyed a very good “yassa”.

Getting closer to Dakar, we stopped past Reserve de Bandia. It is a slightly artificial set up: a small park of only 3,500 hectares of naturally restored vegetation with lots of imported wild animals – sadly poaching and “demographic pressures” had reduced the numbers over time.  You are virtually guaranteed to see wildlife!  However, the cost is fairly pricey (for those on long term travel) and so we opted to sit at the restaurant and drink coffee while watching the birds and the crocodiles in the watering hole.  It was still an enjoyable stop.

And then, we reached the Big City … but more about that later.

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