Senegal, a country with beautiful scenery and mass cultural preservations. It is situated on the coast of West Africa. Its neighbouring countries are Gambia, Guinea Bissau, Guinea, Mali and Mauritania. The country’s capital is Dakar and the local currency is West African Franc (XOF)
Fun Fact: The tallest African statue is in Dakar!
If you’d like to know more interesting facts about this African country, click here.
So, lets break this country up into PARTS.
The main ethnic groups in Senegal are Wolof, Pular, Sere, Mandinka and Jola with European and Lebanese descendants living in the country too. French is the country’s official language with Wolof, Pular and Mandinka commonly spoken too.
Goree Island; If there’s one must-visit place this is it! Just off the course of mainland Senegal, Goree Island offers a better understanding of the transatlantic slave trade and Senegalese history. From museums to well-preserved buildings, this UNESCO World Heritage Site truly feels like you’re stepping back in time.
The African Renaissance Monument is an undeniably breathtaking copper statue in the capital. A must-see in Dakar.
Niokolo-Koba National Park; a UNESCO World Heritage site and protected area is home to some amazing biodiversity. This is a great place for bird lovers who’d be able to get close-up views of flamencos and pelicans.
Another UNESCO World heritage site is Stone Circles of Senegambia which date back to the 3rd century BC.
For those adventure seekers, why not visit Fathala Wildlife reserve and walk with lions. Bet you don’t have the opportunity to do that every day
Lac Rose This is a beautiful lake located 45km from central Dakar and is naturally pink due to the high salt content.
Rituals and Culture
This country is predominantly Muslim with Christianity being the second largest religion. Senegal is a Muslim country and is like Gambia in the sense of it is quite relaxed. Though it is recommended to dress modestly for women, it is quite common to see people in shorts.
Laamb (a form of wrestling) is a popular sport in Senegal.
Senegalese food like with a lot of African countries, is delicious! Now the debate about Jollof or shall I say Wolof rice! I’m not sure who is right here but the famous Nigerian Jollof rice is said to have originated in Senegal. After trying Wolof rice, I still think Jollof rice is better but maybe I’m just biased. Some other delicacies include: Thieboudienne (Seasoned grilled fish served with rice) and chicken yassa (chicken and vegetables either eaten with rice or chips).
– Traffic especially after 6pm can be a nightmare in Dakar! Try avoiding setting off around this time unless you want to get stuck in traffic
– Learn Wolof! When it comes to certain tourist areas and taxi drivers, they will instantly increase the price for tourists. Being able to speak some Wolof would make them think that you are a local.
– Some ATMs’ may not work for you! I found that many ATMS claimed to take MasterCard but infact didn’t and had to go on a hunt to find one so always make sure you’ve got some local currency on you too.
– Beggars are quite common to see in upscale areas and places tourists usually frequent.
– It’s quite common to see squat like toilets and toilets with no toilet paper in Dakar. People usually use a hose close to the toilet to squirt water to clean themselves. If you’re not up for trying, make sure you keep some tissues on you.
For more travel advice check out; FCO: Travel Advice
Outside of the UK: Please check your government’s travel advice carefully.
Senegal was one of the few African countries that I knew when planning my trip that I was going to love, and the country did not disappoint.
After spending nearly 2 weeks in Dakar, I craved to be back. I found Senegalese people very respectful and helpful.
As I don’t speak Wolof or French they would still go out of their ways, walking me to places, hailing taxis etc in order to help me.
I fell in love with Senegalese’s art in clothing. The clothing styles of women tended to be a blend of traditional west African print with some Islamic infusion. Dresses were often loose but still elegant on women.
I visited a lot of museums and tourist attractions during my time in Senegal. My favourite and must visit places in Dakar are: Goree island. House of slaves, the pink lake, IFAN Museum, museum of black civilisations and the African renaissance monument.
There are also quite a lot of markets in Dakar if you ever want to find cheap clothes.
Overall, Senegal is an amazing country. It’s safe, exciting and has a lot of tourist’s attractions to visit.
It’s definitely a country that I believe is a good introduction onto the continent.
With beaches in the city centre, islands, forests further inland and natural wonders it’s a country that would make you consider relocating.