Dakar - Post Report Question and Answers

What kind of car do you recommend bringing to post, given the terrain, availability of parts, burglary/carjacking risks, etc.? What kind of car do you advise not to bring?

I did not have a car at post. - Jul 2020

This is a post where you could get away with a sedan, but an SUV or cross-over vehicle will allow you to get out a bit more and explore. - Dec 2019

4x4, though some have sedans and get around town without a problem. - Dec 2018

Bring a four-wheel drive, but don't bring nice or new, as your car will likely get hit. It seems to be a matter of when, not if. My car was hit just sitting outside of my house. Getting insurance settled here for anything will take about a year, and it's a headache. If you are involved in an accident it could take three to five hours to finalize everything. Make sure you bring spare parts for you vehicle as well, such as tires, freon, windshield wipers... anything you can think to bring, bring it. Make sure to go to a recommended mechanic, luckily we have an expat at the embassy for now, but not always the case. - Dec 2018

For Dakar, a sedan is fine. I brought a medium-sized SUV and am glad I did, as it's easier to get around on rough roads and absolutely necessary for traveling around the country. - Jun 2017

You want something with higher clearance, if possible. The main roads are paved, sure, but anything off will have large potholes, and excessively-high speed bumps. Toyota is your best bet. The less automated the car, the better for your pocketbook to get replacement parts. - Apr 2016

An SUV with clearance (not necessarily 4wd, though) would be preferable for the streets. Few restrictions on bringing in a vehicle. So I'd bring a reliable beater. - Aug 2015

4X4s will definitely be better suited for driving outside of the city, though smaller cars will do fine in Dakar. Some of the roads flood a bit during rainy season, so an SUV or something with more clearance will be better. The main roads are paved, but some of the residential roads are very rough. - Aug 2014

4 x 4. Ground clearance, flooding, non-major roads are often not paved or were paved 20 years ago and are in terrible condition. Automatic may save you some hassle if you have to sit in traffic over a manual transmission. Cars must be four years old or less, no tinted glass allowed anymore. - Apr 2014

Most people bring a 4x4. Four-wheel drive is not really necessary in the city, but the high clearance is. Roads will flood during the wet season, and you will be forced to drive over the huge curbs to park. Do not bring something new, because it will get beat up. Bring a $5-10k SUV and you will be able to sell it for what you paid, no problem. - Jun 2013

I don't drive here and take cabs everywhere. Most people seem to have 4X4's (not strictly necessary for Dakar but nice for when you're out of the city). I've gotten stuck in the sand a few times when out with friends who weren't in a 4X4. - Mar 2013

People usually bring SUVs, but it's not an absolute necessity. A vehicle that doesn't have high clearance can go pretty much anywhere in Dakar, but you might have to stay home on rainy days because of flooded roads, and you might have to take longer routes to avoid very rough roads. If you want to explore Senegal outside of Dakar, an SUV would be more handy. - Oct 2012

Bring something durable and prepare to get it banged up a bit. Flat tires are common due to nails and Rybar sticking up on dirt roads, large potholes, and oddly configures detours. Bring extra air filters -- the amount of dust is astonishing. Something with high clearance is better, especially if there is flooding in the rainy season. It takes very little rain to wash away and flood the streets of Dakar. Air conditioning is essential during the hot months. - Mar 2012

Bring a vehicle that can endure the car-sized pot holes that can exist on the roads in the country side. Often potholes are filled in with dirt and so they quickly become pot holes again. Make sure you bring car parts with you as they are expensive here - tyres, oil filters, spark plugs etc. You can find mechanics to fix problems, though modern cars with electronic systems mean your choice of mechanics is limited. The most common tool for local mechanics is the hammer as they believe there is nothing a hammer can't bang into submission! - Aug 2011

SUVs are nice - but many people get by with regular cars. Would recommend something that is relatively easy to repair and sits up high. A Prius would NOT be a good car here for example. - Jan 2011

Any kind will work just fine. A 4X4 is the best option but not necessary by any means. - Feb 2010

For most of the year a smaller vehicle would be nice for Dakar. But when the flooding was occurring it was really nice to have a higher car - also better for outside of Dakar. Quite a few motorcycles who can zip through traffic - but it's dangerous as cars often swerve left or right unexpectedly to go around taxis, horse and carts, and other obstacles. - Feb 2010

4WD, even if you only stay in Dakar because the roads are bad here too (sometimes even nice expat houses are at the end of a stony dirt way). - Jan 2010

SUV with high clearance. Japanese-made vehicles usually have parts. - May 2009

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