Senegal – often called the lion of Africa. Not because of the number of lions in the country (that are maybe around 10) but because of the shape of the country. If you look at its map you see a head of a lion with The Gambia as its mouth. Senegalese people are friendly and welcoming, they are extremely proud of the fact that Senegal is a safe and peaceful country that has never experienced a war or coup d´etat.
- Capital: Dakar Population: 13.500.000
- Official language: French, Wolof is the most widely spoken local language
- Currency: West African CFA ATMs: To be found in all major cities
- Go online: You can access wifi in all major restaurants and cafés. If you do not have your device with you there are cyber cafés all over
- When to visit: November to April is the best time to visit, during Summer the heat and humidity gets almost unbearable
Where to go?
DAKAR a vibrant and interesting city where everyone can find something for them – except maybe snow 😉
SALY the place to go when you want some luxury. Saly is around 80 km outside of Dakar. You can go to a luxury resort or rent a nice cute house with a pool.
L´ILE DE GORÉE a beautiful island with tragic history. One of the locations slaves were shipped from West Africa to America. The famous „Door of no return“ featured below.
SAINT LOUIS the former capital of Senegal and French West Africa. Just over 300 km outside of Dakar with its beautiful colonial style buildings.
CASAMANCE research before going! The situation can at times be unstable because of the separatist movement MFDC in the area, that wants independence for Casamance from Senegal. It is a beautiful area with stunning beaches.
PARQUE NIOKOLO KOBA fancy a game drive in the African bush. You wont see many of the big animals you would spot on a game drive in East Africa, but a trip to the parque is worth while despite of a long drive from the capital Dakar. Take a boat trip at the river and you will spot hippos and crocodiles. If you are lucky you will spot the elephants and the one lion apparently living in the park.
Getting there and away
Accessing Senegal is easy, either by road or air. The international airport is in the capital Dakar. The cheapest flights can be found on www.dohop.com or www.govoyages.com. We have used AirFrance, TapAir and L´Air Mediterranee, between Dakar and Lissabon, Brussels, Nantes and Paris. Apparently Vuleing has also starting to fly to Senegal.
Car rental – renting a car in Dakar is possible but not neccessary because of multiple public transport possibilities. If you however want to rent a car you´ll find several car rentals just outside your arrival gate at the airport. You can either rent from an international agency or a private person, with or without a driver. We´ve tried both and recommend both. Talk to the guys outside the car rental house, they will fix every problem you have and get you the transport of your choise. Just remember to bargain and look like you know what you are doing 😉
Taxis – are all over and you pay a maximum of 3000 cfa to go anywhere within the city of Dakar. The trick here as always is to bargain. You offer a price you think is fair or a little below what you think is fair. They will tell you another price. You say your last price and if they do not agree start walking away. 99% of the time they will call you to come back and accept your price.
Carrapide – drive all around the city and are very cheap, you pay as little as 50 or 200 cfa. You can hop on and off whereever you want. Young boys hang on back of the car to assist you in getting on and tell the driver when to stop and take off. These cars can get crowded, but it is an interesting experience.
There are more organized busses as well that run on schedule to all neighbourhoods of Dakar.
The best way to get around Senegal is by a so called sept-place, an old Reunault that takes seven passengers. Between Dakar and Thies that is around 40 minutes drive you pay 1500 cfa. The sept-place leaves from Gare de Pompiers in down town Dakar. All taxi drivers know where it is.
Medical facilities are good in the capital of Dakar and well accessible in all major cities. There are both private clinics and local hospitals. The biggest hospital in the capital Dakar is L´Hopital Principal which is situated down town Dakar, not far from the presidential palace.
Good overview of medical services in Dakar can be found here http://photos.state.gov/libraries/senegal/323264/pdf/medical_resources_in_senegal.pdf
Free Stuff in Dakar
There is alot of free stuff to do in Dakar. The city is surrounded by amazing beaches and Dakar has endless possibilities of interesting places to visit, to name a few:
My favourite beach is in Yoff (tell the taxi to take you to BCEAO place Yoff). There you can rent a spot in the shade for as little as 1000-2000 cfa per/day and eat grilled fresh fish.
Sea Plaza – Shopping Mall, gives you the feeling of being in Europe. Doesn´t cost anything to take a walk and look in the stores and at the people visiting. There are nice outdoor areas where you can sit down and watch the sea.
Monument de la Renaissance africaine – this enormous and contraversial statue (It is 49 meters high and with construction cost of 27 million dollars) offers a great sight seeing point over Dakar.
Place d´Independence, down town Dakar. From here there is a few minutes walk to the Sandaga market. It is interesting to walk the side streets around Place d´Independence, especially on Fridays at 14:00 when everything is put on pause to pray and the streets get filled with men praying.
Les Almadies, where the expats and rich people live. Taking a walk around les Almadies looking at the large villas can make for an interesting daytrip. There are great beaches in les Almadies as everywhere in Dakar. Go to Point des Almadies for fresh grilled seafood at bargain prices.
Basically everywhere in Senegal is kids friendly. The Senegalese love kids and you always feel safe walking around with kids in a tow.
There are a specific playing areas for kids in Sea Plaza and the pizza place down town besides N´Ice Cream.
Dishes you have to try!
Chebu Jen – is the Senegalise national dish. Chebu means rice in wolof and jen means fish. So it´s rice and fish! My favourite dish is the chebu ginar, chicken cooked the same way.
Diby – grilled lamb with onion and mustard
Yassa Poulet – Rice and chicken with onion sauce
Videos from Senegal