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 site: www.booking.com

www.booking.com is my favourite hotel booking site and I generally prefer booking my hotels all in one place here.  You can usually book with free cancellation - this allows you to confirm your accommodation at no risk before train booking opens.  It also means you can hold accommodation while you finalise your itinerary, and alter your plans as they evolve - a feature I use all the time when putting a trip together.  I never book hotels non-refundably.  I have also come to trust their review scores - you won't be disappointed with anything over 8.0.

Tip:  It can pay to compare prices across multiple hotel sites:  HotelsCombined.com is a price comparison site which compares hotel prices on Booking.com, Hotels.com, Expedia, Accor, Agoda and many others.  Though if there's not much in it, I prefer keeping all my bookings together in one place at www.booking.com.

Other hotel sites worth trying...

Backpacker hostels...


Travel insurance & VPN

 

Staysure travel insurance

 

Confused.com 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 myself.  Here are some suggested insurers.  Seat61 gets a small commission if you buy through these links.

UK flagwww.staysure.co.uk offers enhanced Covid-19 protection & covers you even if the FCDO advises against non-essential travel.

UK flagIf you have a pre-existing medical condition or are over 65, see www.JustTravelCover.com.

UK flagYou can use Confused.com to compare prices & policies from many different insurers.

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

A Curve card saves foreign transaction fees...

 

Curve card

Most banks give you a poor exchange rate, then charge you a currency conversion fee.  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 balance goes straight onto one of your existing debit or credit cards.

How it works:  1. Download the app for iPhone or Android.  2. Enter your details & they'll send you a Curve MasterCard - they send to most European addresses including the UK.  3. Link your existing credit & debit cards to the app.  4. Now use the Curve MasterCard to buy things online or in person or take cash from ATMs, just like a normal MasterCard. Curve does the currency conversion and puts the balance onto whichever of your debit or credit cards you choose.  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 - I get some commission if you sign up to Curve, but I'm recommending it here because it's great.  See details, download the app and get a Curve card - they'll give you 5 cashback through that link, too.

 

Express VPN

Get a VPN for safe browsing.  VPNs & why you need one explained...

When you're travelling you often use free WiFi in public places which may not be secure.  A VPN means your connection to the internet is encrypted & always secure, even using unsecured WiFi.  In countries such as China where access to Twitter & Facebook is restricted, a VPN gets around these restrictions.  And lastly, you can select the geographic location of the IP address you browse with, to get around geographic restrictions which some websites apply - for example one booking site charges a booking fee to non-European visitors but none to European visitors, so if you're not located in Europe you can avoid this fee by browsing with a UK IP address using a VPN.  VPNs & why you need one explainedExpressVPN is a best buy and I use it 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, and I get a small commission to help support this site.

 

Anker Powerrbank

Carry an Anker powerbank...

With so much now held on your mobile phone (tickets, reservations, vaccination records, etc) I recommend carrying an Anker powerbank.  This can recharge your phone several times over if you're on the move and can't get to a power outlet.  I never travel without one.

 


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