SENEGAL TRAVEL GUIDE
A travel destination in Africa with a measure of political stability, a rich cultural heritage, well-developed beach resorts, a number of reserves and parks in which visitors can sate their eyes on exotic African animals and pink clouds of flamingos, Senegal is West Africa’s busiest and most sophisticated country, much sought after by the international traveller.
Senegal is often praised for its incorporation of all its ethnic and religious groups into a peaceful society. A thriving, bustling nation of many ethnic groups, it is the "most happening hangout in West Africa" famed as much for its tropical beauty as its rhythmic music, fine textiles and delicious cuisine.
The capital, Dakar is a favourite watering hole for travellers to this part of the continent and the towns along the Atlantic are perfect for a soak in the sun, game fishing and other water sports.
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SENEGAL QUICK FACTS
Currency: Communaute Financiere Africaine franc (XOF)
Area: 196,190 km2
Population: 15,85 million (2018)
Language: French (official), Wolof, Pulaar, Jola, Mandinka
Religion: Muslim 94%, indigenous beliefs 1%, Christian 5% (mostly Roman Catholic)
Electricity: 230V/50Hz (European plug)
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SENEGAL PUBLIC HOLIDAYS
- 1 February, Confederation Agreement Day
- 4 April, National Day
- 1 May, Labour Day
- 15 August, Assumption Day
- 20 August, Independence Day
- 1 November, All Saints Day
- Also, Magal de Touba Day.
Business openings and work schedules may be significantly affected by Christian and Islamic holidays and festivals.
FESTIVALS IN SENEGAL
BEST TIME TO VISIT SENEGAL
Senegal has two main seasons: the dry season and the rainy season.
- The dry season, also known as the harmattan season, runs from November to May. During this time, there is little rainfall and the weather is mild, with temperatures ranging from around 20 to 35 degrees Celsius (68 to 95 Fahrenheit). This is considered the best time to visit Senegal, as the weather is pleasant and it is easier to explore the country's beaches, national parks, and cities.
- The rainy season, also known as the monsoon season, runs from June to October. During this time, there is a lot of rainfall and the weather is hot and humid, with temperatures ranging from around 25 to 40 degrees Celsius (77 to 104 Fahrenheit). This season is not considered the best time to visit as it might be difficult to move around due to heavy rain and some roads might be inaccessible.
The best time to visit Senegal is during the dry season, which runs from November to May. During this time, temperatures are mild and there is less chance of rain, making it the perfect time to explore the country's beaches, national parks, and cities. However, the hottest months are March and April, so it might be a bit uncomfortable to travel during this time.
SENEGAL WEATHER SYNOPSIS
While a majority of Senegal has a tropical climate, the country’s northern regions (located in the Sahel) are arid. The country experiences one long rainy season, which varies along a latitudinal gradient (north-south), from June/July to September/October, and is driven by the movement of the Inter-Tropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ). While the arid zones receive a rainfall total under 300 millimetres per year, the forested south receives an average of 1200 mm/year. The average annual temperature for Senegal was 27.8°C for the period 1960-1990, with monthly averages in the hottest seasons of up to 35°C.
SENEGAL TOURIST SEASONS
Most destinations have different times of the year when they’re more or less popular with tourists.
Off Peak Season
SPORT & ACTIVITIES
SNOW SPORT IN SENEGAL
HIKING & CYCLING IN SENEGAL
BEACH OPTIONS IN SENEGAL
SURFING IN SENEGAL
KITESURF IN SENEGAL
A hidden gem on Africa’s West coast, Senegal has a long season and spots with both flat water and waves.
For more details on kite surfing in Senegal expand this section!
HEALTH RISKS IN SENEGAL
Be aware of possible health risks in
Yellow fever - The yellow fever virus is found in tropical and subtropical areas of Africa and South America. The virus is spread to people by the bite of an infected mosquito. There is no medicine to treat or cure an infection. To prevent getting sick from yellow fever, use insect repellent, wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants, and get vaccinated.
Zika Virus - Zika is spread mostly by the bite of an infected Aedes species mosquito. These mosquitoes bite during the day and night. Zika can be passed from a pregnant woman to her fetus. Infection during pregnancy can cause certain birth defects. There is no vaccine or medicine for Zika.
Malaria - Malaria is a serious and sometimes fatal disease caused by a parasite that commonly infects a certain type of mosquito which feeds on humans. People who get malaria are typically very sick with high fevers, shaking chills, and flu-like illness. Although malaria can be a deadly disease, illness and death from malaria can usually be prevented.
Dengue - Dengue is spread mostly by the bite of an infected Aedes species mosquito. These mosquitoes bite during the day and night. About one in four people infected with dengue will get sick. For people who get sick with dengue, symptoms can be mild or severe.
SENEGAL TRAVEL COSTS
The cost of traveling to Senegal can vary depending on factors such as the time of year, the method of transportation, and the type of accommodation you choose.
A sample budget for a visit to Senegal may include the following costs:
- Airfare: Round-trip flights from the US to Dakar, Senegal can cost around $800-1000 depending on the departure city and the time of booking.
- Accommodation: Budget-friendly options such as hostels and guesthouses can cost around $20-30 per night, while mid-range options such as hotels can cost around $50-70 per night.
- Food: Street food and local restaurants can be quite affordable, with meals costing around $5-10.
- Transportation: Public transportation such as buses and shared taxis can be very cheap, with fares averaging around $1-2 per trip.
- Activities: Visiting museums, national parks, and historical sites can cost around $5-10 per person.
Keep in mind that these costs are approximate and can vary depending on factors such as the time of year, the exchange rate and your location in Senegal. This budget is for one person and doesn't include shopping or souvenirs.
SENEGAL TRAVEL TIPS
Here are a few travel tips for Senegal:
- Learn some basic French and Wolof: French is the official language of Senegal, but Wolof is also widely spoken. Knowing a few basic phrases can go a long way in helping you navigate and communicate during your trip.
- Dress modestly: Senegal is a conservative country and it is respectful to dress modestly, particularly when visiting religious sites or rural areas. Women should avoid wearing revealing clothing, and men should avoid wearing shorts.
- Be prepared for heat and humidity: Senegal can be hot and humid, especially during the summer months. Be sure to bring light, breathable clothing and stay hydrated.
- Respect local customs and traditions: Senegal has a rich culture and history, and it is important to show respect for local customs and traditions. Be aware of local etiquette and customs, such as removing your shoes before entering a mosque.
- Use caution when exchanging money: Be careful when exchanging money, as some money changers may give you counterfeit notes. It's best to exchange currency at banks or reputable exchange bureaus.
- Be aware of your surroundings: As in any other country, it's always a good idea to keep an eye on your belongings, be aware of your surroundings and take general safety precautions.
- Be open-minded: Senegal is a great country to explore, with a lot of culture and history to discover, be open-minded and enjoy the experience.
SIGHTS & HIGHLIGHTS OF SENEGAL
Senegal is a country located in West Africa and is divided into 14 regions. Here are some of the main regions and their highlights:
- Dakar: The capital and largest city of Senegal, Dakar is known for its vibrant culture, historical sites, and stunning beaches. Highlights include the Dakar Grand Mosque, the African Renaissance Monument, and the Dakar Cathedral.
- Thiès: Known for its rich cultural heritage, Thiès is home to several traditional villages and historical sites, such as the Gorée Island, which was a major center for the transatlantic slave trade.
- Saint-Louis: Located on the northwest coast of the country, Saint-Louis is a UNESCO World Heritage site and considered the cultural capital of Senegal. It is known for its colonial architecture, lively music scene, and the Langue de Barbarie National Park.
- Casamance: This region is located in the southern part of Senegal and is known for its beautiful beaches, lush forests, and tranquil rivers. Highlights include the Casamance River, the Kiang West National Park, and the village of Oussouye.
- Tambacounda: This region is located in the southeast of Senegal and is known for its natural beauty and wildlife. Highlights include the Bandia Reserve, the Kédougou-Kéniéba Inland Delta, and the Baobab of Gorom Gorom.
- Fatick: Known for its traditional architecture and rural landscapes, Fatick is home to several historical sites such as the Foundiougne mosque and the Guet Ndar village.
- Kaolack: This region is located in the center of Senegal and is known for its traditional architecture, historical sites and lively markets. Highlights include the Kaolack Grand Mosque and the Kaolack Regional Museum.
Keep in mind that this is not an exhaustive list of all the regions of Senegal, and each region has its own unique highlights and attractions to discover.
Senegal has a lot of interesting things to see and do, here are some of the best things to check out when visiting the country:
- Visit Dakar: The capital city of Dakar is a great place to start your trip and offers a wide range of activities and attractions. Some highlights include the Dakar Grand Mosque, the African Renaissance Monument, and the Dakar Cathedral.
- Explore Gorée Island: This UNESCO World Heritage site was a major center for the transatlantic slave trade and is now home to several historical sites, such as the Maison des Esclaves, which provides a sobering reminder of the island's past.
- Visit the Dakar National Museum: This museum offers a comprehensive look at Senegal's history and culture, with exhibits on art, archaeology, and ethnography.
- Experience the local music scene: Senegal is known for its vibrant music scene and you can find live music performances in many bars and clubs throughout the country.
- Relax on the beach: Senegal has some beautiful beaches, such as N'Gor Island, Yoff, and Dakar's Plage de N'Gor.
- Visit the Gorée Memorial: This memorial is dedicated to the victims of slavery and the transatlantic slave trade.
- Take a boat trip on the Casamance River: This peaceful river is home to several traditional fishing villages and offers a great opportunity to explore the natural beauty of the Casamance region.
- Explore the local markets: Senegal has many lively markets, such as the Sandaga Market in Dakar, where you can find traditional crafts, textiles, and other souvenirs.
- Visit the Dakar Zoo: This zoo is home to a wide variety of animals, including lions, giraffes, and chimpanzees.
- Visit the Dakar Botanical Garden: This garden is home to a wide variety of plants and trees from all over the world and offers a great opportunity to relax and enjoy nature in the heart of the city.
WHAT TO EAT IN SENEGAL
Senegal has a diverse and delicious culinary scene that offers a wide range of traditional dishes to try. Here are some popular dishes to check out when visiting the country:
- Thiebou dienne: This is a traditional Senegalese dish made with fish, rice, and vegetables, and is considered the national dish of Senegal.
- Mafé: This is a peanut-based stew that is often served with rice and can be made with chicken, beef, or lamb.
- Yassa: A popular dish made with chicken or fish that is marinated in a tangy onion and lemon sauce and then grilled.
- Ceebu jen: This is a fish and rice dish that is often served with a spicy tomato sauce.
- Domoda: A peanut sauce-based stew made with chicken, beef or lamb and sweet potatoes.
- Choukouya: This is a hearty stew made with vegetables and meat or fish and is often served with rice or bread.
- Attieke: This is a traditional Senegalese side dish made from grated cassava and is often served as an accompaniment to stews and grilled meats.
- Bissap: A popular drink made from the hibiscus flower and is often served cold.
- Pastries and cakes such as Mafé kou, Gâteau de Niébé, and Gâteau de Riz are great options for dessert.
Keep in mind that these are just a few examples of the many delicious dishes that Senegal has to offer, and it's always a good idea to try new things and be open to new culinary experiences.
LGBTQ IN SENEGAL
WHERE TO STAY IN SENEGAL
When visiting Senegal for the first time, it's a good idea to stay in the capital city of Dakar, as it offers a wide range of accommodations and is a great starting point for exploring the rest of the country.
- Dakar has a variety of hotels ranging from budget-friendly to luxury options, such as the Hotel King Fahd Palace or the Sofitel Dakar Teranga. These hotels are located in the city center and offer easy access to many of the city's top attractions.
- If you're looking for something more affordable, there are many guesthouses and hostels available in Dakar, such as the Chez Loutcha Guesthouse and the Dakar Backpackers Hostel.
- For a more authentic experience, you can also consider staying in a traditional Senegalese home, known as a "Maison d'Hôte" or "Maison d'Hôtes" in French. These types of accommodation offer a more intimate and local experience.
- If you plan to explore the city and its surroundings, you may consider staying in a hotel or guesthouse near the beach, such as Hotel Ngor Diarama Beach, which is located on N'Gor Island, a short boat ride from Dakar.
- Another option would be to stay in a hotel or guesthouse in a more upscale neighborhood such as Almadies or Point E. These areas are more peaceful, offer a great view of the ocean and are close to the city center.
Keep in mind that the best place to stay depends on your budget, the purpose of your trip and your preferences. It's always a good idea to read reviews and compare prices before making a final decision.
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