Hotel Bou el Mogdad Hotel 3 star
St Louis, Senegal
Amy Adejokun Section editor

The river bordering Senegal and Mauritania has found its mythical boat, the Bou el Mogdad, again thanks to one man's passion for the emblematic St. Louis in Senegal and its history. Now everyone can have the privilege of sailing on the old boat belonging to the Senegalese shipping services that was built in Holland in 1950. The only tourist vehicle in the region, it invites you to travel the 155 mi separating St. Louis from Podor and still find virgin territory.

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    Location 6.68 /10

    The boat is moored at Roume quay, in the heart of the historical centre of St. Louis, not far from the famous Faidherbe Bridge. St. Louis International Airport is that is 3 mi or a 5-minute car journey away!

    Accommodation 7.45 /10

    The boat has 27 double cabins, plus a suite fitted with a king size bed and a single bed. Some have bunk beds whereas others have two single beds or a double bed. The sober decor changes slightly from one cabin to another. Almost all have a fitted carpet, although they should all have a parquet floor in the near future, as numbers 14 and 15 (May 2008) already do. All the cabins are equipped with mosquito netting over the windows (and also a very powerful insect spray), air-conditioning and various storage areas (wardrobes, shelves or even drawers under the beds). You will notice the absence of a telephone, mini-bar and television. There is a washbasin with drinking water in each private area (such as in the showers). A word of warning: toilets and showers are located on each floor in shower rooms. Only the suite has a private shower and toilet. The very pleasant and light area is large enough to be able to move around in with ease. Depending on the floor, cabins bear the names of fish, mammals, or other animal names.

    Overview 7.70 /10

    The Bou el Mogdad was once the only means of communication between St. Louis and Podor. It was used to deliver mail and foodstuffs. This was the case until roads were built in this part of the territory. The boat then turned to tourism. Having sailed in Casamance and then been abandoned, this legendary boat was revived in 2005 by Jean-Jacques Bancal in St. Louis, where the people were still strongly felt the importance of the Bou el Mogdad in its first life. Tour of the surroundings: You enter on the second level of the boat, which has five floors in total, and soon arrive at the bar counter and restaurant that also serves as a reception area. The various soberly decorated facilities are contained in this area which is 164 ft long and 34 ft wide. A maximum of 57 passengers can go onboard. The small swimming pool, which is certainly better than nothing, is 4 ft deep. The upper deck is divided into two large areas, separated by a wooden gangway. On one side, the covered and open-air bar offers a very pleasant atmosphere due to its long central counter, sofas and music chosen in accordance with the guests. It is here that everyone enjoys a drink, watches the countryside go by and plays the various card games and board games provided. Entertainment is available depending on guest demand. On the other hand, the solarium is rather antiquated as far as the deckchairs provided and the flooring (which should be changed to parquet by 2009) are concerned.

    Food and drink 7.95 /10

    The traditional cuisine created using local produce should win your approval. On the menu includes giant African threadfin in various sauces, mutton, zebu and duck, among other things. The large all-wooden restaurant can accommodate large groups by the bar counter. Breakfast is served in the form of a buffet from 7am to around 10am. The gong then goes for lunch at 1pm until 2pm and dinner from 8pm to 9pm. The second bar is located on the upper deck in the open air. Various drinks are readily available here. Two meals will be served onshore during your cruise: spit-roasted lamb and the national dish in a quiet village in the shade of the mango trees. There is also a buffet on arrival.

    To know

    As soon as you leave the streets of St. Louis you will travel up the Senegal River and find stops in the authentic Africa that are far from the seaside and mass tourism resorts. Occasionally accompanied by pirogues for a few feet, this unique river boat will take you to discover the third largest ornithological reserve in the world, which covers 39,536 acres (the Djoudj Park), the sugar cane town (Richard Toll), and the Wolof village of Dagana, etc. The trip ends in the town of Podor, previously a large French trading post, where commerce flourished. This cruise can also be taken in the other direction, from Podor to St. Louis. Sailing times are between 2 hours and 8 hours a day. The Bou el Mogdad sails from the end of October to June and is then docked for maintenance.

    Those wishing to offer a gift to the people they meet are advised to give medicines, clothes and all types of items to the cruise manager, who will officially distribute them to the various village leaders. Relationships between tourists and villagers are therefore not biased.

    Do not bathe in stagnant water or near the banks of the river where there are all sorts of extremely dangerous parasites (and a particular risk of bilharzia)!

    It is worth remembering that the differences in temperature between St. Louis and Podor can be surprising - take the necessary warm clothes!

    Accommodation advice:
    As the boat is very popular, you are strongly advised to book your cabin well in advance. The prices for each are identical.


    • Swimming pool
    • Animals allowed


    • The only boat on the river
    • The charm of this boat built in 1951
    • Real legitimacy and real history
    • An ideal size


    • Small cabins
    • No shower or toilets in the cabins
    • Badly soundproofed
    • Steep staircases

    Traveller Reviews

    • Overall Score nc/10
    •  Anonyme. Anonyme.  
      1 Opinions
      • Package deals in novembre 2014 Posted on 2014-11-15 Seul - Une semaine et plus (Chambre sans vue)

        un superbe voyage dans l'authenticité, un guide hors du commun et un équipage d'une grande gentillesse.

      • Advantages

        dépaysement total et coocoonning, à refaire

      • Disavantages

        j'aurai aimé davantage de temps libre aux escales

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      • Overall Score 10.00/10