For start – check some useful information and travel advise

Senegal has become independent in 1960s. There are two official languages: Volof and French. 96% of people are muslims. Dakar – the capital, is as a safe city, as far as you are avoiding walking after dark you should be ok. You’re definitely going to meet people who will try to be your guide but I would advise do not interact with them, as all they look for is asking for money. Do not become agresive, refuse politely but confidently. Saturdays are market days!

Practical advise for Senegal!

Internet and mobile network in Dakar

There are 3 mobile networks in Senegal. SIM cards are available – best to find an Orange spot but avoid small booths – as the card might last shorter that you think. Orange in Les Alamdies was a very good spot to buy a SIM card, ladies were helpful and did everything to set up a connection in my phone. Wifi is available in most hotels.

Transport in Dakar

TAXIS in Dakar are the main transport and most convenient. It will take less than 3 seconds to catch one. Always agree the price before you get in to the car!! Some transfers: Yafo – Almadies 1500-1800F.

ATM’s: There are lots of ATM’s and banks. There’s also plenty of small shops, where you can buy snacks and water – choose olny bottled!! May festivals might be a very interesting experience, check more information on: www.festivalsalam.com.

Top things to see in Dakar?

  1. African Renaissance Monument – controversial 49 meter tall bronze statue located on top of one of the twin hills known as Collines des Mamelles. The monumnet intended to celebrate the achievements of the African people and symbolize Senegal’s 50 years of independence from France but will more be a symbol of a corruption and unpopular alliances. The view from the top is breathtaking.
  2. Grand Mosque
  3. City market
  4. Western point
  5. Yoff district – this is where I stayed. Nice and quiet disctrict with easy sea access and an empty beach.
  6. Fish market in Yoff.
  7. Saturdays are market days!

One-day splendid trip from Dakar!

Start at 8am at the latest, also because there may be a huge traffic and it can take long time to leave Dakar. Make Bandia National Park your first of last stop. When it comes to National Parks where you want to see wildlife there is a general rule – avoid the hottest hours. The animals are not active during the day due to the extreme heat. They are to be seen early in the morning or late afternoon.

Bandia National Park. Absolutely amazing safari experience. Although this park is fenced, it’s a 3500 hectares of natural habit of majority of African animals. It’s an amazing experience which gives you a chance to get close to most of the African mammals and reptiles.

Sally fishing village & The Somone Lagoon

Saly – small fishing village and one of the most beautiful tourist spots with sandy beaches and lagoon water. Luckily the place wasn’t turned into hotels agglomeration, but remained nice and natural with fantastic bungalows, surrounded by flourishing exotic flowers, which all makes the place look like paradise.

The Somone Lagoon – another great holiday destination, very pleasant and quiet place, perfect African lifestyle destination. Take an hour boat tour along the mangroves to watch wildlife in an eco-friendly nature and oyster plantations. It’s a quiet area, where you can surely realax during this boat ride and stay for a meal in one of the local bars.

Mbor fish market

Mbour Fish Market – this is the reason why I love travels! This was one of the most unique moments in my life. I’m still not sure whether it was safe to go there but it would be very difficult to reach the place on your own. This was our taxi driver idea to take us there. He was a good friend of our hostel owner, so we trusted him. I was asking our hotel owner to tell the driver we want to visit non-touristic, unusuall places and he finally agreed. Taxi driver parked in the middle of an extremely busy street market. 

I don’t think it’s possible to go there alone, especially for a white woman with a camera hanging from a neck. I still have a picture of this coast area in front of my eyes, thousands of fishing boats, hundreds of thousands local men working on the beach, carrying tons of fish boxes, women sitting on a sand in the middle of this mess, cleaning fishes brought by their men. The smell of the place was more than horrible, but we were trying not to show it. 

What’s more, there were tones of rubbish rotting around in the heat made the smell even more horrible, so you would instinctively squint the eyes, but the whole scenery kept them opened. This was a real Senegal. Exactly the one I wanted to see. Real scenery of bloody work and an extreme poverty.

OPTION 1

  • Lac Rose/Lac Retba – Pink Lake, located 35 km north Dakar. This is one of the most salted lakes in the world (40%). It’s Duniella Salina bactiera, which couses the pink colour and is completely harmless to humans. Extremely interesting is a fact that it needs to be windy for the river to turn into pink colour. At least this is what they say.. I wasn’t luckly enough to see this phenomenon when I was there in the middle of the summer. But the whole lake scenery is incredible. Take a walk around it and you will be amazed by the landscapes.

OPTION 2

  • Goree Island – one of Africa’s most famous memorials to the slave trade. The island is most known from the House of Slaves – a small museum, presenting the story of the Atlantic slave trade. Equaly impressive is the monumnet outside the entrance of the museum, with two crying slaves with chains around their wrists. To get to the island you need to take a ferry from the main Dakar port, it’s a half an hour ferry trip to the island. Once the ferry arrives you will need to wait until the museum opens, it is purposely organized this way to encourage people to visit the island and do souvenirs shopping. Local people sell stuff everywhere. What’s more, be prepared you’ll be approached by one of the local women while traveling on the ferry. Don’t take it as an interesting conversation, she is buying your attention to ask for your name and quietly arranging the meeting on the island. Until you realize she has a shop there and you are scheduled to visit it – it’s too late, she’ll find you in the crowd and will shout your name, so you have no choice but to visit the shop. 🙂 Anyway, the prices are not that high, so I ended up buing a top just to be kind, which obviously I have never worn. 🙂

Phong Nha the biggest caves in the world – Vietnam!