If you’re looking for a trip to Africa that’s filled with culture, color, hustle, bustle, and beauty, then you can’t really go wrong with Senegal. Being one of the most stable countries in West Africa, you’ll find Senegal is the perfect vacation spot for those who want to experience everything this part of the world has to offer without some of the safety concerns you’ll find in neighboring countries. Known as ‘The Country of Teranga’ which literally translates to the country of hospitality, Senegal is renowned for having some of the friendliest residents in the whole of West Africa. It’s common to be invited into someone’s home to chat, share food, and soak up some of the exquisite culture this country is so renowned for. If you’re planning a trip to Senegal, here are some top tips for exploring the country and all it has to offer.
Before we get into the nitty-gritty of things to do and see in Senegal, it’s important we quickly touch on the safety of Senegal. While it may be one of the most stable countries in West Africa, and therefore much safer than some other parts of the continent, there are things you need to bear in mind. According to the latest travel advice, you will want to be wary of pickpockets in the busiest parts of Dakar, the capital city. While most visits to Senegal are totally trouble-free, it’s important to be careful when it comes to some of the less touristy areas and to avoid traveling at night or on roads that are off the beaten track. Mostly, it’s just a case of using your traveler savvy and avoiding situations which don’t feel right!
Places to visit
Now we’ve got the serious stuff out of the way, let’s take a look at the different areas to visit in and around Senegal. There are five main regions in the country, including Cap Vert-Thies (which is where you’ll find the capital city of Dakar), Central and Northern Senegal, Casamance, and the Tambacounda Region. The most popular tourist and traveler destinations in Senegal are the capital, Cap Skirring, Saint-Louis (the former capital), and Casamance. Each of these parts of Senegal have such different selling points, so if you have enough vacation time try to get round to visiting them all. Cap Skirring is renowned for its stunning beaches, Dakar is a heady mix of culture and chaos, Casamance is a true tropical paradise, and Saint-Louis is teeming with history and beautiful architecture (it’s also a UNESCO World Heritage site).
Sights you NEED to see
Now you know which different parts of Senegal to visit, let’s run through a couple of the must-see sights when you’re there. Lake Retba is an absolute must while you’re in Senegal. Located around 30km north-east of Dakar, Lake Retba (meaning Pink Lake) is exactly what you think it’s going to be; a pink lake. It makes for some Instagram-worthy photos, but it can get busy so head down early. La Maison des Esclaves (House of Slaves) is yet another popular attraction, located on a small island just off of Dakar. Alongside the museum, which provides a fascinating insight into the slave trade, there are plenty of beaches and nice restaurants to while away an afternoon watching the little fishing boats going to and fro. Finally, once you’re done with all of the hustle, bustle, and history of Senegal, you’ll want to head to Cap Skirring to enjoy some R&R on the sandy beaches.
Senegal is a truly remarkable part of the world to visit, but be prepared to feel like you’ve run out of time before you’ve even scratched the surface. This is the kind of place you’ll fall in love with and want to explore time and time again. So, what are you waiting for? Get on that plane and experience Senegal!