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  #1  
Old 24 Oct 2008
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Exclamation Is the route from Mauritania to Senegal safe?

Hi folks

We're currently in Morocco and plan on getting to the Mauritanian border in 2 weeks time (circa early November)

We plan on travelling from Nouadhibou east to Atar / Adrar region, and then from Atar down to Nouakchott and on to the border with Senegal.

Can anyone confirm if this is a safe route, and if there is anything I should be aware of?

I've had some advise against using the Rosso border crossing and rather go to Diama instead. Any comments on this?

Thanks in advance for the help

Cheers
Steve
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  #2  
Old 25 Oct 2008
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As safe as most things in Africa - Rosso is 'safe' but a pain in the neck!!! Diama would be 'easier', please don't pay the Senegalese authorities, you'll make it all the more difficult for anyone behind you!

I'd keep an eye on any news developments if you're worried about Mauri; Mauritania News - Topix is a site I use for a lot of places to see what's being reported.

Have fun!

Kira
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  #3  
Old 25 Oct 2008
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Mauritania Travel

I'll be in Mauri with a group of bikes in about three weeks time.

The Atar region is fairly close to where there's been recent 'terrorist' activity and the murders of an army patrol. I'm not saying don't go there, but just be aware that security checkpoints could be cumersome in that area as the police and army will still be 'twitchy'. I would probably think carefully before going there myself, mostly because of the likelyhood of additional hassle from army checkpoints. There is also little doubt that some fairly dubious characters have operated in the area, so stay alert if you travel there.

However don't be put off Mauri. I can't recall problems ever being reported on the north south road from Nouadhibou. The people are mostly great, the desert is awe inspiring and I've never felt threatened. I was there early this year, a couple of weeks after the much publicised killing of a French family and encountered zero problems.

Advice re Rosso border is simply don't use it. You need to be pretty focussed to use this border as it can be extremely intimidating. If you want to give it a go, it's best to attempt it at the crack of dawn (before the guy in charge of customs, and therefore scams, wakes up).

As for getting through without paying money, good luck! I went through it once. I paid very little after negotiations, but it was very time consuming. Refusing to pay anything would probably result in a wait that could span many hours or in some cases, days. These guys are experts in the hustle game and to be honest if you refuse to pay anything they'll think you're wierd and pile on additional delays/problems (even the locals pay something - how do you think that customs and police officials earn their money? Take a European head off when considering these things. Border officials mostly don't get much, if any, salary for the job; it's this that fuels the rotten scam culture that exists at every level, where some jobs are 'opportunites' to earn money rather than salaried positions).

The trick as always to to balance a possible willingness, if it becomes necessary, to pay a small tip or a 'fee' for services against allowing yourself to be ripped off by the opportunists that exist in these places.

Go to Diama. What you do is travel to Rosso and as you enter the town there's a fuel station on the right. About 100 yards beyond this is a turning on the right down a dirt road. There's often an army guy there who will point you in the right direction. Keep your eyes open for the turn off; go too far and you'll arrive at the Rosso border post and ferry port.

There's 100 km of pretty reasonable piste through possibly one of the most oustandingly beautiful national parks in West Africa before you arrive at Diama. There are very few (if any) hustlers at Diama and a fairly relaxed procedure. You pay a small fee to ride/drive in the national park before you get to the border, (but don't get ripped off, this should be cheap) and there's a local 'tax' of a few Ougies to pay before leaving Mauritania, again don't allow yourself to get riped off (you get a receipt). On entering Senegal there's 'fees' for the police (about 10 euro and a 5 euro fee to get your carnet stamped). They give receipts (even though it's probably still a scam). It should not cost too much to get through. Don't pay more than 5 Euro to the guy who looks after a 'gate' at the Senegal end of the dam (he'll ask for 10 Euro). This is definitely a scam, you can try and get away without paying, but again, good luck.

If you don't have vehicle insurance a very pleasant and friendly woman sells this from a large tent just behind customs. She'll make you a cup of good coffee, or sell you soft drinks or a and then proceed to charge you a premium price for insurance. It's all very polite.

Unless you've bought insurance in Nouakchott, then you can't avoid this - about ten miles down the road is a police checkpoint and the first thing they ask for is:- insurance!

(BTW, this woman sells insurance that will cover you for all of West Africa)

Enjoy Mauritania, it's a terrific country with very dignified and friendly people, though with heart breaking poverty.

We'll be at Zebrabar on 20th November. This is a travellers auberge just south of St Louis, Senegal and the most wonderful place for a respite. If you're in the area at the time look us up for a !

Regards

Craig
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  #4  
Old 26 Oct 2008
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We paid less: Diama piste to Senegal

Tim
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Old 26 Oct 2008
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Steve I endorse everything Craig says. You can actually get insurance at the Mauri/Maroc border post (Mauri side) and they will forward date it to when you plan to arrive in Senegal. Surprisingly it's not a rip off either.

Just don't do Rosso period. You will ('specially in your truck) be hasseled and hasseled and made to pay. Just don't do it. Somewhere I have the GPS point for the turn off to Diama and I'll post it when I can. Actually the Piste isn't in the National Park so the so-called tax is a scam (basic rule is that anything in Euros is a scam). The park starts just where you turn left off the piste just before the border. I reccommend you doing the last half of the piste early in the morning just when the birds start to congregate as the sight of all them forming into huge flocks is just fantastic.

When you get into Senegal and get pulled over (as you will be on the way in and out of St Louis) just don't pull your truck off the road and don't speak French either. The cops will soon get fed up if you've half of Africa behind hooting.

Q
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Old 26 Oct 2008
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Diama Dan turn off in Rosso

I think the turn off to Diama in Rosso is here:-

N16 30.732 W15 48.742

Thanks re insurance. Definitely best to get it before you enter Senegal.

Craig


Quote:
Originally Posted by Quintin View Post
Steve I endorse everything Craig says. You can actually get insurance at the Mauri/Maroc border post (Mauri side) and they will forward date it to when you plan to arrive in Senegal. Surprisingly it's not a rip off either.

Just don't do Rosso period. You will ('specially in your truck) be hasseled and hasseled and made to pay. Just don't do it. Somewhere I have the GPS point for the turn off to Diama and I'll post it when I can. Actually the Piste isn't in the National Park so the so-called tax is a scam (basic rule is that anything in Euros is a scam). The park starts just where you turn left off the piste just before the border. I reccommend you doing the last half of the piste early in the morning just when the birds start to congregate as the sight of all them forming into huge flocks is just fantastic.

When you get into Senegal and get pulled over (as you will be on the way in and out of St Louis) just don't pull your truck off the road and don't speak French either. The cops will soon get fed up if you've half of Africa behind hooting.

Q
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  #7  
Old 27 Oct 2008
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Thanks

Hi folks
Thanks for all the info... please keep it coming, and and all advice is much appreciated!
Cheers
Steve
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  #8  
Old 27 Oct 2008
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Quote:
Originally Posted by craigcc View Post
I think the turn off to Diama in Rosso is here:-

N16 30.732 W15 48.742
That waypoint is correct, but it's not at all clear where to go from there, so also stick in

N16 30.784 W15 48.944 and N16 30.628 W15 49.178

There's a wildlife lodge at Keur Massene at approximately N16 33.240 W16 14.223

The park paypoint is N16 22.654 W16 20.456

Tim
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Old 27 Oct 2008
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Tim, that's great. Thanks.

Craig
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Old 27 Oct 2008
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Oh, and beware of the scams pulled by the police post just south of Saint-Louis, see More hassle on way to Dakar « There and Back Again

DO NOT PAY anything.

Tim
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  #11  
Old 27 Oct 2008
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St Louis police checkpoint

Agree re not paying cash to cops in Senegal. However, I've been through the checkpoint that you've mentioned on several occasions and not been hassled once. Much depends on who's on duty I suppose.

Craig
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Old 28 Oct 2008
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I've been through six times. The five later times I indicated when asked to pull over which seemed to stump them. They don't seem to have much of a 'plan B' when it comes to motorbikes. But on one occasion I had to endure a complete shakedown on vehicle electrics, lights, horn, etc.

The guys at Zebrabar tell stories of European car drivers being extorted for not wearing seatbelts, not having fire extinguishers or reflective jackets, etc. which is a joke when you consider the state of the local vehicles.

The 'get you out of jail' card is to mention the name of Commisioner Yanway. I had his cellphone number in my mobile just in case--actually it was one of my mate's numbers but the guards wouldn't have known.

Tim
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Old 28 Oct 2008
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The best one I heard was the 'requirement' for two or more warning triangles.

Personally speaking I've not had any real trouble with the Senegal Police yet and I've toured most of the country a couple of times now. My tecnique for checkpoints is to greet whoever stops me like a long lost brother, sunglasses off, immediate offer of handshake, exagerated friendliness and petend to have no knowlege of French. They probably think I'm some sort of loon soon lose interest.

One time at a checkpoint between Mbour and Kaolack, a cop tried to make out that I had a forged driving licence, but this was because he didn't believe that one person could have so many vehicle categories on a single licence. A shiny new bic biro sorted him out.

There is one checkpoint that is slightly sinister. It's a few miles north of the Gambia border on the road south of Kaolack to the Barra Ferry and Banjul. These cops are known to be pretty aggresive at times, though mainly with the locals. I've never been scammed for cash, but the bike was searched on one occasion and they're not very friendly.

Craig
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Old 28 Oct 2008
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The Senegalese police/military are some of the worst I've come across in Africa. Always after a payment; I've still not parted with any money.

The worst incident was at the Guinean border near Kedougou; I came over the border in a pick up truck with 18 Guineans. They asked for my passport and then said I'd not previously exited Senegal until I pointed out my stamp at M'Pack for the Guinea Bissau border. I was then asked for my Yellow Fever certificate, no problem. Then it got nasty. First it was my driving licence, I still continued in English but had to give up my 'copied' driving licence that I carry with me; being a French one they had me.

So we went into French. Still not satisfied with me & my annoyance growing about the driving licence & that I wasn't driving - I'd paid for a taxi; he went on. It was then I was asked to produce an AIDS certificate, by which time I laughed & asked him for his. According to him all foreigners had to have an AIDS certificate, I told him he was lying. He asked me for 10,000CFA, I walked out and went back to the vehicle telling him to keep the lot as an AIDS certificate doesn't exist. I made it very clear I would go back to Dakar & tell the powers that be that I didn't have a passport etc as it was being held for 10,000CFA or an AIDS certificate. My driver was beside himself wondering who to calm down first!!!

He eventually relented after a few minutes & came out to get me .. stamped the passport & handed it all back ...

DO NOT PAY THE SENEGALESE POLICE!!!

Kira
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