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Senegal is a country in Western Africa. It is the most developed country in West Africa and has the best road network; most major roads are now paved. On those major roads, hitchhiking is very easily doable - there is a high number of private vehicles and the Senegalese are sympathetic towards the cause. Drivers are usually very friendly and often you might find yourself invited to spend the night if evening is coming close. If you leave the main roads, things get a lot harder - be prepared to either wait or walk lots; most of your lifts will be short hops and most traffic will be taxies. Speaking a little bit of Wolof, which is the unofficial national language, will increase your popularity and your chances greatly. The-nomaddicts found that a helpful phrase to learn is "Doma yo balay? Amuma halis", which is Wolof and roughly translates to "Will you take us with you for free? We have no money." There is no direct translation for "hitchhiking" in Wolof, but this got the job done. To leave the towns, there is only one way (with the possible exception of Dakar): Get to the end of the city by foot or mototaxi and hitch from there. As in all of Westafrica, a big part of the traffic is public minibuses, taxis and sept-plus who will charge you for a ride. Private vehicles will often ask you for a fare aswell and you will most likely find yourself mixing payed rides and hitchhiking to get forward. Prices are very reasonable and usually the same for foreigners, apart from obvious tourist destinations. Even if you have a tight budget, you'll be able to pay or give back and it's your personal decision what to make of it. Still, in case you are completely without money, you can still hitchhike and find people who give you food and shelter. It will require more patience and a lot of asking, but it's possible.
When hitchhiking in Lower Casamance, be aware of the ongoing armed conflict there, it might be unwise to walk between towns on your own or even to accept ride offers of strangers. Check the situation before you set out. Finding rides at the many police checkpoints is also a great and easy way to hitch. Tell the officers where you are going and they will stop all vehicles and organise a free and safe ride for you.
Cities connected by major roads
- Towards Mali
- Towards Mauritania
The main border crossing between Senegal and Mauritania is Rosso, which is famous for its hustlers. After making it to Rosso (possibly you'll have to walk the short way from the road to Richard Toll because there's not that much at Rosso) you'll get your exit stamp, exchange money and then cross on the ferry to the Mauritanian side (free for foot passengers). If you want to hitch, ignore the numerous offers for taxis you will receive and walk out of town (around 1km) where (as of March 2011) there is a rotting donkey next to which hitching seems sensible. There is a second road further to the West going through the Diama national park. This is a dirt road with little traffic, most of which is coming from Mauritania anyway (overlanders wanting to avoid the hassle of Rosso). The Diama border is quick and painless. The dirt road might be challenging in the rainy season but The-nomaddicts had no problem hitching through it in January 2020.
- Towards Guinea-Bissau
If you have time and a bit of luck, hitching towards the border at Mpack from Ziguinchor is possible. Walk out of Ziguinchor towards the border and stick out your thumb to see what happens.
- Towards Guinea
Hitching towards Guinea is a very hard task. From Kedgougou, only 4x4s with very determined drivers are able to make it to Mali-ville (usually one every couple of days), and even though there is a new paved road being built from Upper Casamance to Koundara, it will be some time until it will be viable for most cars. As of February 2020, the road from Upper Casamance to Koundara is paved, in good shape and had a good amount of traffic on it. The-nomaddicts had no problem hitching from Tambacounda to Koundara.
- Towards The Gambia
It's very easy to hitchhike towards/into The Gambia from the north due to the high traffic of Europeans going to sell their cars down there.
I'll talk about my only experience hitchhiking in Senegal (Jun 2018). I made the route from Thiès to St. Louis: 200 km in approximately 7 hours of travel. The conditions of the N2 road is good, many cars stop but most are private taxis, you have to have patience. I was waiting 3 hours at a police checkpoint until a truck took me to Louga. There are many police controls on the outskirts of the city, it is a good place to stop cars, sometimes the police ask drivers for your trip. I was 5 minutes at a police checkpoint and a driver took me to St. Louis. (Video of the trip: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f8Vv4kmAjS8) - ViajaZero.org
"HJitchhiking is very easily doable" to be extremely optimistic. I spent 5 hours on the main road outside Kedougou with no luck, even though lots of private, half-empty vehicles passed me. Plus the locals had no qualms about queue-jumping, standing in front of me to flag rides for themselves. Then I faced another problem: I gave up and decided to flag down public transport, but buses and sept-place taxis fill up before leaving the towns, so if you are waiting on the edge of a city, they will always be full - TonyPro
Hitched Senegal throughout Jan 2020-Feb 2020. We hitchhiked all over the country starting in Diama, going into Dakar, around The Gambia through Tambacounda, down into and around Casamance, and back east all around the Kedougou region. We had to be patient, especially when hitching in remote areas outside of Kedougou but never had to wait more than 3 hours for a ride. Learning the Wolof phrase for hitchhiking and a few others was definitely helpful! - The-nomaddicts
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