Destination of the Month – Senegal

Howdy all and somehow we are already at the last Sunday of November! And that means it’s time to reveal November’s ‘Destination of the Month’, which this time around it the West African nation of Senegal. In fact, this will be the final ‘Destination of the Month’ for 2022, and it holds a little bit of significance when paired with last week’s ‘$100 and 48 Hours in Dhaka’, as these were the supposed bookend of my 2004 dream which extended to 2006 and then 2007 to travel from Dhaka Bangladesh to Dakar, Senegal.

It took three attempts and several restarts, but eventually I made it to Dakar, and frankly I found a great little West African nation to visit at the end of it all, even if I was disappointed to not do it all in one journey. I need to rectify that one day, don’t I?

Anyways, Senegal! It’s a pretty accessible West African I guess for a start – unlike most of its neighbours you don’t generally need a visa for Senegal these days (I think out of around 10 West African countries I have been to this is the only one that didn’t require Australians to get a visa, although considering OUR visa laws it’s fair enough that so many countries want Australians to visa up before they come).

It’s on the African Atlantic Coast and in fact it has the western-most point of mainland Africa. The climate is milder than some of the countries further south, but it is very humid though which is something to keep in mind. Malarial risk is high in all of sub-saharan West Africa although the incidence of malaria is less on the coastal areas.

The capital Dakar is an interesting place sort of spread on this sort of peninsula, with lots of suburbs or settlements over the hills near the cliffs and the beaches. Downtown Dakar is sort of at the end of the ‘hook’ or peninsula (see map) and there’s a big square – Place d’Indepence which in some way feels like the centre of town. From there it’s a short walk to the main train station which will take you, if and when the train is up an running again, on an overnight journey to Bamako, Mali on one of Africa’s most epic train journeys.

Downtown is quite pleasant and there are museums, monuments and lots of powerful street art. If you head off to other spots nearby like Yoff you can find resorts and seaside fun in that part. And then there is the Isle de Goree which is a short ferry ride from Dakar (leaving not too far from Place D’Independence). This is a beautiful island has a dark past of holding prisoners to be shipped off to the third world as slaves. You can see some of the places people were held, and it’s kind of weird because it’s such a beautiful place. It’s a day or half-day trip from Dakar.

The city of St Louis is in the north of the country, on the coast just south of the Mauritanian border. It’s a must-visit place in Senegal, a real colonial outpost where you can get an idea of the country a long time ago – good and bad I guess. Loads of historic buildings, once you cross from the main land on this huge bridge to the islands, it’s across a couple of them. There is something special about the atmosphere there, there are a lot of fishing boats that head out to the Atlantic waters to see what they can snare, it’s really worth a few days to soak up life.

Other places of interest in Senegal include the nature/jungle of the Cassamance region, which I haven’t been to but it’s a longish ferry ride from Dakar. If you go by land you would need to cross through the country of Gambia to get there or go around it which would take a very long time. Also there is ‘Lac Rose’, a huge pink lake not too far from Dakar which I would aim to visit if I was returning some day (and who knows).

Dakar is well serviced from Europe by air by Air Senegal and a few European Airlines such as Air France. Crossing into the country from the North – Mauritania is also relatively straight forward by mini bus or bush taxi, although the border post have a tendency to ask for bribes. From the south (Guinea) again it’s taxis or mini-buses, and that border exiting Guinea I have heard can be a place where foreigners end up parting with more money than they should.

Getting around Senegal you most likely to use mini buses which are cramped and slow, or share taxies which are cramped but at least quicker, both styles leave once full but in a taxi you might be able to buy out the remaining seats and have more space for yourself, which would be worthwhile if your budget stretches that far. Not that travel is that expensive in Senegal, it’s all relative.

People are often friendly, although you’re going to find life a heck of a lot easier if you have a bit of French. There is a lot of colour and elegance to the culture in Senegal, it’s pretty special.

Thanks for popping by today! Hope you found this somewhat informative. Obviously there is much more to Senegal than I can present with my limited experiences, but I hope I have piqued your interest. Take care wherever you may be in the world today! May the Journey Never End!

8 thoughts on “Destination of the Month – Senegal

  1. I like this presentation of Senegal, it shows the country in a very positive light. Well, I’m not decided to go back to Africa yet. Europe is keeping me busy these days

  2. Fantastic post! I know very little about Senegal but it does seem like an interesting country! I didn’t know the Australian visa rules were so bad!

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