We were up early and getting a taxi at 08.30. No official taxis were in sight, but a gentleman who was parked opposite our camping place offered his car as a taxi. Any chance to make money. We agreed a deal and off we went. The road ahead of us was blocked. No problem, we just deviated a little and drove along the beach.
We decided to undertake todays travels around Dakar by taxi, as driving and parking are such a nightmare.
We arrived at the office where Adam had to get his Passavant (permission to proceed with the vehicle) stamped at 08.55. Amazingly quiet traffic at this time of the morning. Adam was the first person in the queue, so was immediately ushered into the office and we were out in 5 minutes.
We have planned to visit a number of embassies and a shipping agency. It is so difficult to get accurate information. The online overlanding forums we subscribe to are helpful, but often the advice is conflicting. We hope by visiting the embassies directly we will get a more accurate picture.
I have to say that Africa is not like anywhere else though. Rules that apply in one country may not apply in another and, of course, bribery plays a big part. Cross my palm with silver and rules can be broken.
Just to explain our hoped for route. We cross from Senegal into Gambia. Gambia is completely surrounded by Senegal. It’s only a narrow, sliver of a country, after which we return to the south of Senegal, the Casamance region. Next we cross into Guinea Bissau. (We need to get a visa from the Guinea Bissau Embassy in the main city of Casamance, Ziguinchor). Then Guinea and Ivory Coast.
Our next stop is the Embassy for the Ivory Coast. We have been hearing that foreign vehicles are not being allowed entry into the country. The reason being too many people have been driving cars over from Europe, purporting to be tourists driving around or through Ivory Coast, but actually selling the vehicle and avoiding import duties and taxes.
The young gentleman we see at the Embassy is polite, but not helpful. He advises foreign vehicles are not allowed entry and also that we cannot get visas in Dakar. Adam asks to see a more senior member of staff. An even more unhelpful answer is forthcoming. You can only obtain a visa from the Ivory Coast Embassy in your home country. We are getting nowhere, so depart severely frustrated.
This sounds like a major barrier to our future progress. Along with not being allowed into Sierra Leone with a right hand drive vehicle and the difficulty with getting a Nigerian visa at present due to forthcoming elections and the possible disruption this may cause.
It is possible to avoid these countries by traveling through Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger and Chad but these countries are considered too dangerous to travel through at the moment.
Is shipping an option?
So, what to do. We decided rather than visit any more embassies we would visit a contact Adam had been given at Bollore Shipping. We rang for an appointment and obtained quotes with 2 shipping companies to ship our vehicles from Dakar to Walvis Bay in Namibia. The quotes vary from 2000+ Euros to 4000+ Euros. The former takes 36 days and the latter 26. On top of this are port fees which in Dakar are 1700 Euros. Expensive. Adam says too expensive for him.
In the taxi on the way to the shipping agency I called the Gambian Embassy to check whether Dennis needed a visa in advance with a New Zealand passport, or whether this could be obtained at the border. I was advised at the border, which confirms what we have read online.
Feeling very deflated we walk back to our camping place. After some thought and lunch we decide to continue by road and see how we go. Tomorrow we will go to the Guinea Embassy and try and get a visa. Once in Guinea we can try the Ivory Coast Embassy there and see if they are more helpful. We can also get a shipping quote from Conakry, Guinea’s capital city, which may be more reasonable.
Tomorrow we also have an appointment for an oil change for the vehicles. The mechanic is located about 80ks south of Dakar. We will head there as soon as we are done with the Guinea Embassy. It will be good to get out of this crowded camping space and out of the city.