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Senegal

Welcome to Senegal….From the luxuriant green delta of Casamance (South of Senegal) to the Sahelian savannah (north of Senegal); Senegal has a cultural and nature diversity which makes this country a perfect introduction to African continent. You will be inevitably seduced by its national parks, colorful markets, beaches, music and much more….Easy to access, friendly and hospitable, Senegal is a wonderful entryway to discover smoothly and progressively the African continent, and to measure its complexity and cultural differences.

 

As a coastal and Saharan country, the diversity of populations and landscapes is apparent throughout the country. Senegal is the cross path of different civilizations (Wolof, Peuls, Diolas, Mandingues, Sereres and Toucouleurs) and you need to take time to enjoy the everyday rhythm where the local music is omnipresent and the palaver is a custom.

Key Facts

  • Languages: French (official language), Wolof (spoken by everybody), Diola, Pulaar, Malinké and Mandingue (minority languages)
  • Time difference: GMT + 0h
  • Entry requirements: EU and USA citizens do not need a visa to go Senegal (3 months maximum). Just a valid passport is enough. CEDEAO citizens do not need visa as well.
  • Electricity: 220 volts and plugs have two round pins
  • Telephone: + 221
  • Health: Make sure your vaccines are up to date and note that vaccine against the yellow fever is highly advised before entering Senegal. We recommend protection against typhoid, hepatitis A and B, meningococcal meningitis. You should be careful to food hygiene and never drink tap water. Do not swim in stagnant waters, Bilharzia (schistosomiasis) is very common. There are several cases of malaria in Senegal. You must take a preventive treatment before your trip and use mosquito nets and mosquito repellents.

Money

  • In General: Hotels and camping will charge you au tourist tax of 1 USD (sometimes included in the prices). In high-end restaurants, it is usual to tip 10% of the amount of the bill. Senegalese people do not tip taxis drivers but the taxi driver will expect a tip. Bargaining prices is very common when purchasing in artisan shops or crafts market.
  • Currency: CFA franc (XOF)
  • Budget: Senegal is a very expensive country in comparison to other African countries. If you have a small budget, you will need at least 30USD daily. If you can afford 30-70USD per day you can have a certain comfort of living. With 300 USD daily you will have unlimited access to luxury goods.

Daily budget Food

  • Low budget: < 3 000 FCFA
  • Average budget: 3 000-6 000 FCFA
  • High budget: > 6 000 FCFA

Daily budget Accommodation

  • Low budget: < 20 000 FCFA
  • Average budget: 20 000-60 000 FCFA
  • High budget: > 60 000 FCFA

Best Time To Go And Climate

The best time to visit Senegal starts from November to February (during the dry season). The temperature is pretty cool. Between March and May, the climate is dry and hot. The rainy season stretches from June to October. But the rain will not prevent you from travelling because the rains fall only few hours and mostly during night-time. The only problem caused by the rain is the bad condition of the roads.

Festivals and feasts: Muslim feasts depend on the Islamic calendar. The « Magal » (annual pilgrim reunion of the Mourids, a fraternity of the Islam that has its base in the holy city Touba) starts 48 days after the Muslim New Year. In May, Saint Louis (historical city in the north of Senegal) hosts the international jazz festival gathering musicians from all around the world. The Dakar International Music Festival held in December welcomes artists of traditional African music and contemporary music

Climate: The climate in Senegal is characterized by heavy rains and high temperatures. During the rainy season (starting from June to October) excursions in the interior of the country can be difficult. The rainy season is shorter in the north of the country and longer in the South. June is the month of the highest rainfalls. The dry season starts from November to May. In Dakar, the average diurnal maximum is 24°C from January to March and between 25 and 27° C in April, May and December. From June to October the temperature can reach 30°C

Visa

French, Belgium, Canadians, EU and CEDEAO citizens do not need a visa to go Senegal. Citizens from other countries and Switzerland are required a visa. The visa can be applied in the Senegalese embassy of your country and cost between 15-20USD

Accommodation

Where to rent in Senegal? There is a big quality difference between accommodation in the interior of the country and the accommodation on the coast. Outside the tourist resorts, you will barely find luxury accommodation. But the adventurers will find cheaper but basic accommodation in the interior of the country. In Senegal, you will find everywhere in the country urban areas which are offering a large choice of accommodation which are offering a large choice of accommodation. In the Sine-Saloum you will find many luxurious hotels in remote areas. In Casamance we see more and more camp sites located in very isolated areas. These camp sites are maintained with the help of neighboring villages and are usually simple. But they are situated in beautiful natural environments. The cost of accommodation is generally higher in Senegal than in East African countries, South Africa and Asian countries. The cost of accommodation in Dakar is higher than European countries. The region of Casamance has the cheapest accommodation (starting from 4000CFA). Luxury hotel rooms are very well equipped with bathrooms with hot water. They have AC, electricity (24/24H), TV SAT, Wi-Fi, telephone etc… Many hotels have fitness and massage facilities. Average hotel rooms will have bathroom with hot water, fan or AC. You will find nice guesthouses and original campsites in similar pricing

Transportation

Getting there: Making a trip to Senegal is not cheap if you are travelling from Europe or other parts of the world.  But there is many charter flights going from European capitals and other big cities.

Plane: The airline company Air Senegal International used to connect flights Dakar to Cap Skirring (October – May) and Ziguinchor to Tambacounda (January-March) until April 2009. Check if the Airlines recommence their flight operations.

Boat: The boat « Aline Sitoé Diatta »has 500 seats and connects twice a week Dakar to Ziguinchor (Casamance). It is the best and cheapest way to reach the South of the country. If you wish to travel up the Senegal River, then take the boat « Bou El Mogdad », a very old boat (1950s) which has a long history related to the region. This boat cannot replace road trips.  It will take several days to connect Saint-Louis to Podor. The boat « Africa Queen » is a similar boat, connecting Bissagos (Guinea Bissau), Saly, and Sine-Saloum during rainy season.

Many cities and islands (island of Gorée and Foundiougne) are served regularly by a ferryboat. Pirogues (dugout canoes) go frequently to the islands of N’gor & Madeleine, Ndangane, Mar Lodj and many other spots in the Sine Saloum.

  • Africa Queen (Tel: 33 957 7435)
  • Aline Sitoé Diatta (Tel: 33 991 7200, or 33 821 2900)
  • Bou El Mogdad (Tel: 33 961 4263; www.saheldecouverte.com)
  • Gorée Ferry (Tel: 33 849 7961, or 77 628 1111; www.dakar-goree.com)

Must See

  • The gorgeous dunes of Lompoul desert: the desert of Lompoul often gives a foretaste of the big Mauritanian deserts. Small desert zone, Lompoul is located to the northwest of Senegal, midway between Dakar and St- Louis.
  • The urban rhythms of Dakar: the streets of Dakar are filled with the sound of drums, local music (mbalax) etc. We become quickly captivated the music sounds coming from everywhere.
  • Historical Saint-Louis: when comes the night, everything changes. The waves lapping softly against the wood dock anchored at the foot of Sindoné hotel whisper beautiful stories. While old building in the background fabulously lit by candles and exotic lamps, are humming sweet tunes
  • Mangrove forests of the Sine Saloum: heaven for birds and for some sort of predators. This area is inhabited by the serer ethnic group who live on fishing, agriculture and salt production. You must visit M’Boss Dor, an exceptional site of 5 ha private island lost in the mangrove swamp close to Sine Saloum National Park in the Palmarin community reserve. It’s a very natural small island, ideal for a quiet stay. If you’re lucky, you may even see spotted hyenas, jackals, servals, water mongooses, vervet monkeys, and varanus.
  • Podor, historic and quiet river town: The town of Podor is located at the heart of the ancient kingdom of Tekrour. The quiet city is as enchanting, charismatic and picturesque as ever.
  • Mysterious Bassari land: Designated a UNESCO World Heritage site since, Bassari land is located uphill between Senegal and guinea in national park of Niokolo-Koba. If you want to discover the culture of the Bassari people, you must totally immerse in the local life, rich of traditions and rituals
  • Dakar and the Cap Vert peninsula: The growing city of Dakar has strikingly contrasted neighbourhoods. While office and residential buildings are rising, villages of fishermen surrounded by urban growth have kept their rural authenticity and still resist the strong currents of economic and social modernity.
  • Gorée Island (destination for people interested in the Atlantic Slave Trade. But factually few slaves were transported from there. The more important centres for the slave trade from Senegal were north, at Saint-Louis, Senegal, or south in the Gambia. Goree Island is a UNESCO World Heritage Site)
  • N’Gor Island: Small island where you can spend a pleasant afternoon
  • Keur Moussa Monastery:Enjoy the Gregorian chants sung by Benedictine monks accompanied on the kora. The service is sung at 10am on Sunday morning.
  • Pink Lake: Less than an hour away from the capital city of Senegal the vivid pink color Lake Retba is separated only by some narrow dunes from the Atlantic Ocean. Its salinity content compares to that of the Dead Sea and during the dry season it exceeds it.
  • Soumbedioune and its traditional crafts village: Soumbedioune, on the ‘Corniche de Fann’, where you can watch craftspeople at work and buy their handicrafts. However, if you want to get away from the tourist hustle and bustle and immerse yourself in the real market vibe, cross over to the fish market just next door, either early in the morning or in the late evening, to have a chance of seeing what really happens in Soumbedioune.
  • Petite-Côte  and the Sine Saloum Delta: Petite Côte is a stretch of coast in Senegal, running south from the Cap-Vert peninsula to the Sine-Saloum delta. Since the 1980s, the tourism industry is booming along the Petite Côte in between palm trees and small villages of fishermen. Saly Portugal is the hub of the surrounding region with its exciting activies with its nightclubs, bars, restaurants, shops and water sport. Just after the twin villages of Joal and Fadiouth, where seashells break when walked on, Saloum River forms estuaries surrounded by mangrove forests. The first president of Senegal, Leopold Sedar Senghor was born and grew up in the Sine Saloum. And it is said that the beauty of the inhabitants and the landscapes inspired him in his poetry.

Do not miss :

  • Holy city of Touba which is the base of the mouride brotherhood. In Touba, the strong religious devotion blends in with a very crude capitalism.
  • The « Palais des Arts » in the city of Thiès : one of the best concert hall of Senegal
  • Enjoy the scenery of dunes of Lompoul while enjoying nice tea with mint called  « ataya »
  • The peaceful Senegal River marks the boundary between Senegal and Mauritania, and runs into the Atlantic Ocean at the proximity of the historical island of St Louis. Several historical events have shaped the culture, tradition, and religion of the North region of Senegal.
  • Visit the colonial houses of St Louis
  • National Park of Djoudj : watch thousands of birds
  • Have a historical visit of battle fields of Morfil Island : admire the old French forts and Sudanese style mosques
  • Bassari Land is the main mountainous region of Senegal, perfect for foot-hiking. We are quickly impressed by the diversity of the landscapes and a unique mix of cultures. Bassari and Bédik tribes who still live in this part of the country have kept their traditional way of life. Small villages with beautiful huts made of clay (banco) are built beneath a shady kapok tree. The fetishes fixed on the trunk of the kapok tree show the strong animist beliefs shared by the inhabitants of the villages. Before reaching out the Bassari homeland, the road from Tambacounda to Kedougou crosses the Park of Niokolo-Koba (the biggest national park of the country). You will often see lions resting across the road, or colonies of baboons crossing the road. While taking a boat trip on Gambia River, you will enjoy the view of hippos bathing and crocodiles lying on the riversides.
  • Casamance: Every year during the month of September, after the raining season, the people of Oussouye pay their respects to their King. Wearing bright red clothes, the king watch hundreds of young people showing their wrestling and dancing skills supported by jubilant crowd. The king of Oussouye is at the same time, a political leader, talented witch doctor, and respected king in the whole region. The region is very special thanks to the unique culture of the Diolas, and the beau

Must do :

  • Visit the National Park of Niokolo-Koba (biggest protected reserve of Senegal)
  • Enjoy a refreshing shower in Dindefelo waterfalls
  • Hike on the montainous bassari  homeland and visit small  Bédiks villages. You will witness and abundant and diverse vegetation with huge trees around the Casamance River.
  • Enjoy the beaches of Cap-Skirring which are the most beautiful of Senegal
  • Oussouye: Cycling on sandy roads and kayaking on the rivers
  • Learn the art of cooking the national dish of Senegal (tieboudiene) and go swim with dolphins in Cachouane
  • Listen to the beautiful pririt molitor singing on the road leading to the manatee sanctuaries in Pointe-Saint-George
  • Relax on the beach of Saly-Niakhniakhal which is a very quiet and pretty beach
  • Watch dozens of colored pirogues sailing towards Mbour
  • Walk on the wooden bridge between Joal and Fadiouth and enjoy the noise of thousands of seashells breaking under your feet
  • Take a ride on a donkey cart to Bamboung mangroves swamps
  • Fly over Sine-Saloum Delta and admire a heavenly view
  • Central-West: The center of Senegal where you will encounter the biggest cities of Senegal (except for Dakar) covers also the biggest desert region of Senegal. The wide plains of the Ferlo are practically unknown except for the Peul herders taking their livestock to seasonal grazing. At the extreme west coast, the strong onshore winds swept away the land and created a desert close to Lompoul.

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