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Not to be confused with Bekal, a town in India.

Bakel is a thriving yet extremely remote border town in the northern Tambacounda Region of Senegal.



Bakel lies on the Senegal River, across from the village of Gouraye, Mauritania. The town was founded in the 18th century by members of the Ndiaye family who were fleeing succession disputes in the Jolof Empire to the west. The Bakel area belonged to the Kingdom of Galam, also called Gajaaga, which granted the migrants the right to remain on the land. The Ndiaye eventually integrated with the local Soninke population, and Bakel is renown for its Soninke culture today.

The French began to penetrate the region in the 18th century, purchasing slaves from the Gajaaga monarchs to export from Saint-Louis at the mouth of the Senegal River. In 1818, the French sent a small flotilla up the river and got as far as Bakel when they were forced to halt their venture due to the seasonal drop in river's water level. It was as good a place as any to build a fort, and so they did, in 1820. The Fort de Faidherbe remains to this day, its rusting cannons standing guard over the river.

Today Bakel is a cultural crossroads, and an active river port. Goods are shuffled to and from Mauritania in painted pirogues. The town has lively marketplaces. Surrounded by rugged hills, the colonial architecture of Bakel sits gently against the river's edge, baking, as it has for centuries, in the hot east-Senegal sun.

Get in


From Tambacounda, a sept place (shared taxi) will run you about CFA6000 plus the ever-negotiable baggage fee, and it should take about 5-6 hours.

It is also possible to arrive by bus from Tambacounda or Dakar. The route is serviced by Niokolo Transports, Waraba Transports and Al Azhar Transports, the first being the most reliable, the last being the least.

Get around



  • Fort de Faidherbe.


  • Take a pirogue cruise. So long as the river is navigable.



Visit the markets.









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