Memories from Senegal: Saly Portudal Experience

My time in Saly was short and fun; my stay at the Baobab Belge was very nice. I wish I had more time. After a couple of days in Dakar the capital, I headed on to Saly to meet with my Senegalese friend Diallo, who I had only been corresponding with via email and was yet to meet in person.

A major tourist hub, Saly is a beach resort town, about 70km east of Dakar, lying on the Petite Côte, and classified under the M’Bour Department in the Thies Region.

I arrived in Saly around 15:00hrs, disembarking at the fuel station along the main road. The air was dry and cool although the sun was ablaze. It was harmattan season.

To get to Saly, I had boarded a Sept-Place heading to M’Bour from Rufisque, Dakar and the journey took about two hours. Sept-place is French for seven spots (seats), which is the number of passengers on the vehicle, usually a Peugeot station wagon.

Dakar to Say
Rufisque, Dakar…
Leaving Dakar…
Saly
Welcome to Saly…
At the fuel station…
Saly
Cabbie waiting to drop me off at La Place des Bougainvillées…

I met with Diallo at La Place des Bougainvillées and a cab got us to the Baobab Belge in about 5mins. Being pretty tired after the long drive from Dakar, I had declined Diallo’s offer to grab a bite when we met, opting to get to my accommodation instead and settle in. Dominique, the Belgian owner of the B&B gave us a warm welcome and Diallo left shortly after, promising to return later for our nocturnal rendezvous.

I had booked a one-night stay at the Baobab Belge, a B&B via Booking.com, anticipating that if it falls short of standard, I’ll move elsewhere. I didn’t have to. The Baobab Belge turned out the perfect place – nice, cozy and cost effective.

La Place des Bougainvillées

Saly is divided into three areas, or like Fatmata, my Gambian friend puts it, “…there are three Salys.” The heartbeat of the town is La Place des Bougainvillées which is in the Saly Portudal area. That is where you’ll find the clubs, bars, casinos, restaurants, banks, shops, discos, ATMs, taxi rank, etc.

The Baobab Belge is located further down in Saly Niakhniakhal, about a 5mins drive away from La Place des Bougainvillées, while Saly Nord (Saly North) is where some of the more upscale beach hotels are.

Dominique manages Baobab Belge with her Senegalese husband, Doudou. She had actually taken time to call me before I left Dakar to confirm my arrival and I was impressed by the fact that she offered to pick me up on arrival, but I told her I was meeting someone, Diallo. She showed me around the place and made me my first meal of thieboudienne (rice and fish) in Saly, after I had settled in.

Baobab Belge…
The first place you see as you walk in. Serves as Reception, breakfast spot & sitting area
Reception…
Saly
Dominique…
Kitchen…
Tam Tam or Studio room…
A Jacuzzi…
My first meal in Saly! Thieboudienne (rice and fish)
My room…

Located just about two minutes from the beach (Plage de Saly), the Baobab Belge is a cute little B&B cottage with about five rooms in a garden-like space. These rooms of varying sizes are named after local musical instruments and they include: two Koras, one Balafon and one Tam Tam – I stayed in the Balafon. A two-storey building is close by where Dominique stays with her husband, and I learnt there were available rooms there too.

There are a couple of raffia shades, hammocks, and a cute little Jacuzzi-like tub in the garden. There’s a sitting area in front of the kitchen. The rooms have all the necessary convenience – bathroom with shower and toilet. Each room has a flat screen TV, mosquito nets and fans, as well as air conditioning. The environment is neat, welcoming and quite relaxing.

Dominique mentioned that she and her husband play with a band most evening at of the spot at La Place des Bougainvillées, but I never got to go see them before I left. They also organise activities like quad-biking and water sports for guests, and even take people on tours to places like Reserve de Bandia, La Somone, and other interesting places close by.

A jaunt down the beach…
Local kids roasting fish on the beach…

Staying at the Baobab Belge felt much like home, because I had the keys to the main entrance, so I could stay as late as I wanted. The people are was very peaceful and I remember walking with Diallo back to a La Place des Bougainvillées around midnight, after he arrived late with some items I had asked him to help me get from M’Bour.

It was a refreshing walk in the chilly evening as we navigated our way, chatting along. We didn’t stay long at La Place des Bougainvillées, since I was leaving for Saint Louis the next day, while Diallo too had to get back M’Bour.

Before leaving in a taxi, he helped me locate Yahya, the cabbie who had dropped me off the previous night from La Place des Bougainvillées. Being pretty late, I took Yahya’s taxi back to the Baobab Belge.

*****

ITB India

Coming soon! The autobiography: “Alain St. Ange, My Journey”

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