Dakar to Bamako by train

The international Dakar-Bamako train stopped running in 2009 and shows no sign of resuming.  Trains still run within Mali between Kayes & Bamako and in Senegal a local service running for 22 miles out of Dakar started in September 2019.

A thrice-weekly Kayes-Bamako train has been running as per the timetable below, although last reports received pre-pandemic said it had reduced to twice a week.  Post-pandemic service is not known.  Check the situation locally, and if you have any updates please e-mail me.

For the record, way back in 2003 trains stopped running because of the condition of the track, much of which was still the original rails laid in 1904 to 1912.  Operation of the railway was handed to a Canadian company which started working to improve things.  In 2005, a weekly express was reinstated from Dakar to Bamako and back, which in 2007 was reduced to running every 8-9 days due to yet more engineering work on the line, and to not set schedule.  This continued until summer 2009.  At this stage, the train was starting from the Gare de Hann, 3km out of Dakar, and not from Dakar station itself.  In summer 2009, all train service from Dakar stopped running again, and that remains the current status.  It's reported that the operator to all intents and purposes went bankrupt.

However, second hand carriages from India and some new locomotives were delivered in late 2006.  Some of these second hand Indian coaches did arrive and are currently running between Kayes and Bamako.

 Dakar ► Bamako

             

          

 Bamako ► Dakar

 

 See note A

 

 See note B

Dakar *

-

Bamako

 07:15 Wed, Sun

Thies

-

Kati

??:?? Wed, Sun

Diourbel

-

Diamou

??:?? Wed, Sun

Guinguineo

-

Kayes

 22:00 Wed, Sun

Kaffrine

-

Kidira (frontier)

-

Tambacounda

-

Tambacounda

-

Kidira (frontier)

-

Kaffrine

-

Kayes

07:15 Tues, Thurs

Guinguineo

-

Diamou

??:?? Tues, Thurs

Diourbel

-

Kati

??:?? Tues, Thurs

Thies

-

Bamako

22:00 Tues, Thurs

Dakar *

-

Note A:  Runs twice a week on Tuesdays & Thursdays, composed of second hand Indian carriages.  2nd class seating, but some departures may also convey an air-conditioned first class car.  See the traveller's report below.  Situation in 2023 not known.

Note B:  Runs twice a week on Wednesdays & Sundays, composed of second hand Indian carriages.  See the traveller's report below.  Situation in 2023 not known.

??:?? = train stops at this station, but please check times locally.

Dakar to Bamako is 1,230 km (768 miles).  There is currently no train service between Dakar and St Louis.

Fares

Children under 3 travel free, 3-9 pay half fare, 10 and over pay adult fares.

One-way fare:

1st class couchette

1st class seat

2nd class seat

Bamako to Kayes:

  -

7,500 CFA (US$ 11)    

How to buy tickets

Book at the station.  Tickets go on sale the day before departure.  It's not possible to book online.

What's the Bamako-Kayes train like?

1st class seats on the Bamako to Kayes train   The Bamako to Kayes train

1st class seats on the Bamako-Kayes train...

Photo courtesy of Jerome Le Roy

 

The Bamako-Kayes train, using second-hand Indian coaches...

Photo courtesy of Jerome Le Roy


Useful country information

Train operator:

Transrail (a Canadian consortium which has taken over the Senegalese & Malian railways).

 

Time zone & dialling code:

GMT  all year.  Dialling code for Senegal +221, Mali +223.

Currency:

1 = 748 Senegal CFA Francs (both Senegal & Mali).  Currency converter

Tourist information:

Tripadvisor Senegal page   Health & vaccinations

Check travel advice at www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice

Visas:

 

UK & many  EU citizens don't need a visa to visit Senegal.  UK & most other western nationalities require a visa to visit Mali.

Page last updated:

2 January 2023


Hotels in Senegal or Mali

Find hotels at Booking.comMy favourite hotel search: www.booking.com

Booking.com is my favourite hotel booking site and I generally use it to book all my hotels in one place.  I've come to trust booking.com's review scores, you won't be disappointed with any hotel that scores 8.0 or more.  Crucially, booking.com usually lets you book with free cancellation, which means you can confirm accommodation risk-free before train booking opens and/or you can hold accommodation while you finalise your itinerary and alter your plans as they evolve - a feature I use all the time when planning a trip.  I never book hotels non-refundably!

Tip:  It's sometimes worth comparing prices across multiple hotel booking sites:  HotelsCombined.com compares hotel prices on Booking.com, Hotels.com, Expedia, Agoda & many others.  If there's not much in it, I prefer to keep all my bookings together at www.booking.com, but it's sometimes worth checking!

Other hotel sites worth trying...

Backpacker hostels...


Travel insurance & VPN

 

Staysure travel insurance

 

Columbus Direct logo

Always take out travel insurance

Never travel overseas without travel insurance from a reliable insurer, with at least 1m or preferably 5m medical cover.  It should also cover cancellation and loss of cash and belongings, up to a sensible limit.  An annual multi-trip policy is usually cheaper than several single-trip policies even for just 2 or 3 trips a year, I have an annual policy with Staysure.co.uk myself.  Here are some suggested insurers.  Seat61 gets a small commission if you buy through these links.

UK flag  www.staysure.co.uk offers enhanced Covid-19 protection & gets 4.7 out of 5 on Trustpilot.

UK flag  www.columbusdirect.com is also a well-know brand.

US flag  If you live in the USA try Travel Guard USA.

 

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Get an eSIM with mobile data package

Don't rely on WiFi, download an eSIM with a mobile data package for the country you're visiting and stay connected.  Most newer mobile phones can download a virtual SIM card so you don't need to buy a physical SIM, including iPhone 11 & later, see device compatibility listMaya.net is a reliable eSIM data retailer with a 4.5 out of 5 Trustpilot rating and a range of packages including unlimited data.

 

Curve card

Curve card

Get a Curve card for foreign travel

Most banks give you a poor exchange rate, then add a foreign transaction fee on top.  A Curve MasterCard means no foreign transaction fees and gives you the mid-market exchange rate, at least up to a certain limit, 500 per month at time of writing.  The money you spend on your Curve card goes straight onto one of your existing debit or credit cards.

How it works:  1. Download the Curve app for iPhone or Android.  2. Enter your details & they'll send you a Curve MasterCard - they send to the UK and most European addresses.  3. Link your existing credit & debit cards to the app, you can link up to two cards with the free version of Curve, I link my normal debit card and my normal credit card.  4. Now use the Curve MasterCard to buy things online or in person or take cash from ATMs, exactly like a normal MasterCard. Curve does the currency conversion and puts the balance in your own currency onto whichever debit or credit card is currently selected in the Curve app.  You can even change your mind about which card it goes onto, within 14 days of the transaction.

I have a Curve Blue card myself, it means I can buy a coffee on a foreign station on a card without being stung by fees and lousy exchange rates, just by tapping the Curve card on their card reader.  The money goes through Curve to my normal debit card and is taken directly from my account (in fact I have the Curve card set up as payment card on Apple Pay on my iPhone, so can double-click my phone, let it do Face ID then tap the reader with the phone - even easier than digging a card out).  I get a little commission if you sign up to Curve, but I recommend it here because I think it's great.  See details, download the app and get a Curve card, they'll give you 5 cashback through that link.

 

Express VPN

Get a VPN for safe browsing.  Why you need a VPN

When you're travelling you often use free WiFi in public places which may not be secure.  A VPN encrypts your connection so it's always secure, even on unsecured WiFi.  It also means you can select the geographic location of the IP address you browse with, to get around geoblocking which a surprising number of websites apply.  See VPNs & why you need one explainedExpressVPN is a best buy with a 4.7 out of 5 Trustpilot ranking which I use myself - I've signed up as an ExpressVPN affiliate, and if you go with expressvpn.com using the links on this page, you should see a special deal, 3 months free with an annual subscription.  I get a small commission to help support this site.

 

Anker Powerrbank

Carry an Anker powerbank

Tickets, reservations, vaccination records and Interrail or Eurail passes are often held digitally on your mobile phone, so it's vital to keep it charged.  I always carry an Anker powerbank which can recharge my phone several times over if I can't get to a power outlet.  Buy from Amazon.co.uk or from Buy from Amazon.com.

 


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