Senegal is a country off the West Coast of Africa known for its French colonial heritage. Its capital city is Dakar and the official language is French. With those amazing facts, we can jump to the fun part of Senegal. Senegal is a really beautiful country that you should visit. It is rich in pre-colonial and post-colonial cultures. Because it is a country off the coast it was used for the slave trade and they still have these structures there. There are very many species of birds thanks to the migration of birds from the Sahara.
Reasons you should visit.
1. Bandia Nature Reserve – It is 40 miles from the capital city, Dakar. Here you will be able to see animals like Cape Eland, Impala, Kudu, Kob antelope, Green Velvet monkey and many others. You can also get to visit a kind of shrine by a giant baobab tree that was a traditional burial place for Griots of the serer ethnicity.
2. Kermel Market – This is a market for flowers and fresh produce. It has all kinds of meat, vegetables, nuts and many others. Most tourists go here for flowers. It mainly targets western tourists. They have flowers like Mangolias, Zinnias.
3. Lac Rose (The pink lake) – surrounded by dunes and 10 times saltier than the ocean. During sunny days the lake appears pink because of the minerals found there. Because of its very salty nature, you can effortlessly float on it like you would in the Dead Sea.
4. Djoudj National bird sanctuary – Fancy a boat ride? Then this is the place to be. The sanctuary is traversed by boat so you can see the birds. There are almost 400 species of birds here. The birds come here during their migration from the Sahara. The most visible of the birds are the pelicans and flamingoes. You can also see other animals like Tortoises, antelopes, monkeys and antelopes.
5. Maison des esclaves (slave house) – it is located in Goree Island and is a museum that shows the Atlantic slave trade. It is only 20 minutes from Dakar by ferry. Here you will learn about the process of the slave trade and it is said that 1 million people have passed there. Influential people like Barrack Obama, Nelson Mandela and Pope John Paul II have been there. It is also called the door of no return.
6. Dakar – this is the country’s capital and as such is a very busy place. It has a lot of open-air markets where they sell art, food, jewellery and many other things you could buy as souvenirs. There are also museums here like the Musée Theodore Monod which is mainly for African art and institute Françoise Leopold Sedar Senghor which is mainly for African art of French influence.
7. Cap Vert Peninsula – Put on your scuba diving gear and prepare to see a lot of history. It is home to more than 70 shipwrecks some of the notable ones are The U.S.S Yorktown, The Lady Burgees and the Norfolk.
8. Beaches: Senegal has some beautiful beaches. The most popular are beaches near Dakar like Île N’Gor and Toubab Dialao which is famous for its stunning red cliff). The beaches farther south are larger and less crowded including the Petite Côte (Little Coast) spanning over 94 miles (151 kilometres). The Casamance region is known for its beaches as well, and Resorts in the city of Saly, near M’bour, offer a variety of water sports, including jet skiing and scuba diving.
May – Magal. Half a million pilgrims trek to Touba east of Dakar to pay their respects at the burial place of Amadou Bamba, founder of the Mouridiya branch of Islam.
May or June – St Louis International Jazz festival.
Late December to New Year ’s Day – the Abene Music festival. Small local celebrations featuring things like lantern parades.
Their national dish is Thieboudienne which is fish and tomato rice. The fish is marinated with parsley, lemon, garlic and any other spicy herbs. Yassa, fish or chicken with onion and lemon is common too. The food is mostly accompanied by a small bowl of chilli that you can add to spice up your food. The locals eat from one big bowl from which they share. They use their right hand to eat as they consider the left one dirty.
Things to note
1. Women should pack modest clothes as the culture frowns upon women showing too much skin.
2. Have your cash with you just in case you find a place that does not accept credit cards.
3. A yellow fever certificate is officially required to enter most West African countries including Senegal.
4. Not all people need a visa to get in depending on where you come from but for some you will need to have permission from Senegal to enter Senegal. Check here https://dakar42.icann.org/travel
5. All travellers will need a passport valid for at least 90 days following your departure date from Senegal. However, we strongly recommend travelling with 6 months validity on your passport at all times.
6. Senegal tourist visa is not required for citizens of Kenya for a stay up to 30 days.
Rachael is a writer, book reader, TV series fanatic, cat person and a sarcastic friend. She writes because she likes to tell stories and give her views on most things. She also runs her own blog at http://girlsansdoubts.com