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Praia - Sal, Cape Verde - Saint Louis, Senegal
23 - 24 May


Since we hadn't received a reply from the civil aviation authorities in Senegal before leaving Recife, I phoned them from our room in Praia.  They couldn't find our fax although we'd received a confirmation that it had gone through.  When I told them we were due to arrive the same day in Saint Louis, they gave me an authorization number over the phone.

Arrivals and departures from the airports in Cape Verde were some of the most hassle-free of the whole trip.  We paid the reasonable US$ 24 landing fee in Praia and took off for the one-hour flight to Sal for refuelling.  Departure formalities were completed rapidly.  We paid the Sal landing fee of US$ 21 and took for Saint Louis, Senegal.  Apart from haze due to the desert sand, there were no weather problems, as would be expected, and we landed after a 3-hour flight.

The guy in the tower decided to make life difficult for Flemming.   It wasn't enough to have an authorization number for flying and landing in Senegal.   He wanted to see the written authorization.  When Flemming explained that the DAC had only given us the authorization verbally, he wanted to see our fax requesting the authorization.  We didn't have a printout of this one so Flemming had to fetch his computer and show him the fax on screen, with the exact date and hour of transmission.   Finally, the man was satisfied.  Under the circumstances it was just as well I made the phone call to get the authorization number.  The last time Flemming flew to Senegal he sent three requests and never received a reply.  He didn't bother to phone ahead and no one asked for the authorization when he arrived in Dakar.

All this nonsense with the tower controller delayed us by about half an hour.  We were running short of time to make it to the Campement de la Langue de Barbarie before sunset.  Fortunately we didn't have to phone for a taxi as a guy with a van offered to give us a lift into Saint Louis.  We had to check in at the Hotel de la Poste and visit the local police station before getting another taxi and a boat to the Campement. The gendarme complained good-naturedly enough that we were keeping him late at the office. He asked when we were due to leave and we told him Saturday at 7 a.m.  He normally only starts work at 8 a.m. so, to make matters easier for us (and also for him!), he stamped our passports for the departure too.

Back at the hotel, we collected our bags and jumped into a taxi to take us over the pot-holed roads to the beach where we were to board a pirogue for the short boat ride to the Campement.  We just made it in time as the boats don't run after sunset.

The Campement was quiet in the extreme. There were only two other clients - a couple of Parisian women.  The resort reminded me a little of our wildlife safari holidays in Kenya and Tanzania.  The rooms were in individual huts with thatched roofs. Ours was called the Flamingo. The place wasn't as comfortable as the Kenyan or Tanzanian lodges and the food wasn't all that brilliant, but the location was great.  We had the Senegal river on one side and it was just a short walk to a wide, white sandy ocean beach on the other side.

The next morning we went on a boat excursion to the nearby nature reserve where we saw huge numbers of seabirds, mostly white pelicans, cormorants, gulls, egrets and terns - and one solitary pink flamingo among the pelicans. The sight of about 100 pelicans flying in neat formation was amazing.

In the afternoon we moved back to the 'Hotel de la Poste' and checked into the famous french aviator, Jean Mermoz's bedroom # 219. He used to stay there regularly in the 1930s before taking off for Brazil, providing the first airmail service over the south Atlantic. He crossed the south Atlantic 24 times before mysteriously disappearing into the ocean on 7 December 1936 during his 25th crossing. The 'Hotel de la Poste' reeks of aviation an has been owned and operated by the Philip family for five generations for the past 150 years. The present owner is Yannick Philip, also a keen aviator. Sadly, we learned that Yannick's father Jean Philip died in an aircraft accident in Senegal last year.

Then we took a taxi to visit the old seaplane base where the Aéropostale aviators took off for the south Atlantic  1933 to '38 when land planes took over.   Flemming wanted to walk up the steps of the old hydrobase tower, but they were all rusted through!

During a brief sunset visit to the ocean beach we admired the courageous Senegalese fishermen pulling their ocean-going pirogues onto the shore. A very colourful scene somewhat disturbed by fishermen hassling us for money for the photos!

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66-Sal_departure.jpg (13220 bytes)
Departing from desertlike Sal

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Flying over Saint Louis on an island in the Senegal river
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On arrival at Saint Louis Airport
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The Campement de la Langue de Barbarie
66-Pelicans.jpg (36664 bytes)
We saw huge numbers of white pelicans, also in formation flight
66-Cormorants.jpg (28983 bytes)
We also saw lots of cormorants
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We met these two Senegalese girls while waiting for a taxi back to Saint Louis
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In the room of the famous aviator Jean Mermoz at Hotel de la Poste
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Pulling an ocean-faring pirogue up to shore on Saint Louis beach
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The old hydrobase tower near the Senegal river where the seaplanes of Aéropostale took off for Brazil
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By the Jean Mermoz memorial
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