Monday, May 16, 2011

Dakar Airport 101

Dakar airport is one of Africa's most difficult airport to get through... and that's saying a lot. It's a place where anyone and everyone comes to make money by hassling the 'newbies'. If you ever come to this airport, please follow these simple steps which I have already passed along to Dad and Cilla, who are visiting us in 9 days. (If you want to know how NOT to navigate the airport, read our entry we wrote from our arrival in October 2009.)

For Dad and Cilla:

Dakar Airport 101:(print this out)


Your flight from the states to Dakar makes two stops, Dakar and Johannesburg. Dakar is the first stop, so some of the passengers around you will stay on the plane. On the screen on the back of the seat in front of you, you can click Flight Map to see where you are in the sky, and how long until the destination.

Make sure you have your passport handy when you get off the plane. When you exit plane on the tarmac, you will walk about 20 feet towards a bus. Someone will ask for your passport, check your name on a list, and then you will get on the bus.

You will ride the bus literally 30 seconds and get off at the airport. If they gave you entry cards to fill out on the plane, just move forward to the immigration booths. They usually don’t. If not, the cards are inside to the right. You'll have to fill out 2, top and bottom, even though it's the exact same information.

Our address is: 110 Zone xx, Almadies. (If you forget the address or lose this paper, then just write that you will be at the Raddison).My cell is xx-xxx-xxxx. Everyone in Senegal has a cell phone you could borrow if there is an emergency at the airport.

Wait in line at the booths. Hand the man your cards with passports. He’ll probably ask you a few questions that you don’t understand. Say you don’t speak French. He won’t smile and will tell you to go on. You then need to hand the custom cards, which were attached to your entry card, to a guard standing at the doorway. Once you pass the guard, you turn right to the luggage area.

Okay, luggage carts are free, however we have never gotten one because we have so much luggage. There will be lots of men wanting to help you. *Signal to one right away to help, otherwise you will be surrounded. The guy may have 1 partner working with him to help you. I will tip them when you get to us.

Collect all bags, but constantly keep an eye on them. After you collect your bags, you will walk a short way, with your ‘helper’. All bags will then need to go through an x-ray machine. (Rumor has it, that the machine doesn’t work). Then your helper will load the bags back up onto your cart and head out the door.

**Before you head out the door, keep your purse, passport, and wallet safe. This is where it may get ‘hairy’.

You will exit the airport but will be in an outside fenced in area. You should see me across the parking lot. Just wait in that area, just outside the airport, until you see me. You'll still be in a 'hassle free' area at that point. **Don’t leave the fenced in area until you see me, otherwise you will be in hell. If you want, stand aside the doors that you just exited and don’t move any further until you see me.

Say ‘no taxi’, if anyone asks you.

Once you see me, walk until we meet.

And if you made it this far…. Then….IT’S TIME FOR A COCKTAIL! YOU’RE IN FREAKING AFRICA!!!!!!!!!

Welcome to Dakar.

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