Traveling to Ziguinchor by Ship

In January 2014, I traveled to Ziguinchor (Zig) for the second time in less than one year. The town is situated on the banks of the Casamance River in the south of Senegal. In this post I talk about how to go to by ship.

Distance From Dakar to Ziguinchor

Senegal has a developed and friendly transportation system which provides its people and tourists much mobility at affordable rates. To go to Zig, you have the choice between making use of a car (or bus), an aircraft or a ship.

The map of Senegal below shows the road to Ziguinchor from Dakar without passing through The Gambia. This is the longest route.

The distance from Dakar to Ziguinchor as the crow flies is 264 Km and it takes average 45 minutes to be there by air. Regular daily flights connect the two cities.
By road, there are 2 possibilities. The first possibility (the shortest) is to travel though The Gambia. It sounds weird to travel within a country through another country is it not?

The Second possibility is to go through Tambacounda (Tamba), a Senegalese town in the east of the country. This way, you don’t have to deal with immigration officers at frontiers.

According to testimonies, traveling through the Atlantic Ocean is the most efficient way to get to Ziguinchor. In fact a company known as COSAMA has been established to ensure this. COSAMA stands for Consortium Sénégalais des Activités Maritimes (Senegalese consortium of maritime activities).

Traveling by boat to Ziguinchor

Aline Sitoé Diatta is the name of the ocean liner which connects Dakar and Ziguinchor twice every week (except when the weather conditions are not favorable and during scheduled maintenance). The trip lasts for 15 hours. Tickets are sold at the Dakar International Maritime Station (Gare Maritime Internationale de Dakar) every day and you can buy them ahead of time to ensure you have the best comfort possible.

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Passengers boarding the ocean liner “Aline Sitoé Diatta” in Dakar. Photo: Ndzulo

The cost of traveling to Zig by ship

In the table below, find a summary of the different categories of passengers and the corresponding price of the traveling ticket. The ticket is for the one way trip.

Tariffs per person
Categories Senegalese Other Nationalities
2 passengers cabin 26,500 Fcfa 30,500 Fcfa 47.66 €
4 passengers cabin 24,500 Fcfa 28,500 Fcfa 44.53 €
8 passengers cabin 12,500 Fcfa 18,500 Fcfa 28.91 €
Pullman chair 10,500 Fcfa 15,500 Fcfa 24.22 €
  • Free for children between 0 and 4 years old.
  • Half price for children between 5 and 12 years old.
  • Cost per car: 64,300 FCFA (including 10,000 FCFA for handling). Beware that luggage and any other materials contained in a vehicle are charged extra at 200 CFA francs per kilogram. The company recommends that you register such materials separately to avoid their weight being overestimated.
  • Motorcycles: about 30,000 Fcfa (including 10,000 Fcfa for handling)
  • Luggage up to 200 kg per passenger, including 20 kg of hand luggage.
  • Meals on board cost about 9,000 Fcfa. Breakfast is included in the price of the 2 and 4 passengers’ cabin.

Source: voyagerencasamance.com

The ship departs from Dakar every Tuesday and Friday at 8pm. According to regulations, boarding starts at 2:30pm and ends at 5:30pm. I suggest you stick to this schedule to prevent being embarrassed though some passengers  arrive latter than that.

Departing from Ziguinchor, boarding starts at 11:30am and ends at 1:30pm. Departure is scheduled at 3pm (prompt… believe me).

In case you have a lot of luggage and/or goods to transport, it is possible to register them any day from 8am to 5pm at the maritime station. This is very practical.

Experience on board Aline Sitoé Diatta

A number of things on board the Aline Sitoé Diatta will make your experience interesting. Some of them include:

  • The decks on which you can enjoy breeze as the ship cuts across the waters of the Casamance River and the ocean.
  • The bar from which you can buy a few things like fruit juice, beer, sandwiches and even airtime in case you have to make a call while on the River. At sea, none of the Senegalese mobile phone companies provide network coverage.
  • The reception and its 2 flat screens on which an interesting football match could be shown. You could also look at the news. These screens are controlled by the crew.
  • Taking pictures. If you are a photo amateur or pro, you will be served by nature. From birds to dolphins to fishermen, the sight along the Casamance River will give you more than enough to store in your hard drive.
  • There will be more to enjoy provided you have company – talk and even meet people.
Partial view of the reception inside the Aline Sitoé Diatta during a trip. Note the Pullman chair on which passengers are seating Photo: Ndzulo
Partial view of the reception inside the Aline Sitoé Diatta during a trip. Note the Pullman chair on which passengers are seating Photo: Ndzulo

On the other hand, there are a number of limitations while on the ship. Just like the goodies, the list will vary depending on personal experiences. However from my experience:

  • The toilets are not the best and with time, they’re even becoming worse.
  • In the cabins there is a limited number of sockets. In case you have a laptop which needs constant AC (alternating current) to run, you better be the first to enter you cabin and secure a socket.
  • Some passengers suffer of seasickness during the trip. Though there are seasickness bags nearly everywhere, a time comes when the corridors don’t smell good.
  • The trip to Ziguinchor by boat is interesting and worth its value. Just the difference between foreigners’ fee and national’s fee which annoys a times.
That’s me in front of the ocean liner Aline Sitoé Diatta in Ziguinchor. Photo: Irene.
That’s me in front of the ocean liner Aline Sitoé Diatta in Ziguinchor. Photo: Irene.

I’d like to hear from you

In case you’ve traveled to Ziguinchor by ship before, or you intend to do it, I’d like to know about your experience or inquiries. I may have not talked about something to which I could have the answer.  So, feel free to share your point below as a comment. You may also share this post if you found it interesting.:)

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