In the last decade, Senegal has been gaining popularity as a tourist center of Black Africa, so there are many good hotels and new ones are being rapidly built. Hotels of European level are in abundance, and the opportunity to have a rest on “all inclusive” or get breakfast, which is included in the room price, became an influence of Europe.
True, at night, especially in the cities, there may be some trouble in the form of power or water outages. At night on the coast can be cool, so many house walls are painted black.
Senegal is the westernmost country in Africa, endowed with a lot of advantages: spectacular and diverse nature, long strips of beaches, distinctive culture and special color. Nature is so diverse that it seems as if you are on different continents: thousands of years of baobabs (this tree is depicted on the emblem of the country), miles of strips of white sand beaches, yellow savannah and mangrove swamps.
Lake Retba is the famous pink lake. The unusual color of the water has because of the content of special bacteria in the composition. And there is a lot of salt, so that you can not swim, the water begins to corrode the skin.
Ornithological park Dzhuzh is a home for 200 species of local birds. But that’s not all: every year more than three million birds from other countries come here for wintering.
The most popular resort of the country, Les Almady is a 20-minute drive from Dakar. It is a concentration of expensive resorts. Most of the beaches are hotel property. Non-residents can enter there only for money. But this is a plus: the beaches are always clean.
Petit Cote (from the French it translates as “little beach”) – a place simpler. Picturesque fishing villages, private cottages, converted into townhouses and quiet coast, without the winds and strong waves, made Petit-Cot a favorite vacation spot for young families with children.
Sali is the country’s newest resort. There are plenty of hotels for all tastes, restaurants, and casinos. The coast can be a bit dirty, it depends on the hotel, which owns the beach.
Senegal’s climate:: Tropical. It is hot and humid. The rainy season (May to November) has strong southeasterly winds. The dry season (December to April) is dominated by hot, dry, winds.
Beach recreation, visiting ethnic villages, exploring the country – this is what tourists come here for. Fishing is a popular local pastime. The rich waters of the Atlantic will make fishing not only enjoyable, but also fruitful.
There are no direct flights to Senegal from Russia, you must fly with a change of plane in Paris (if you fly Air France), Madrid (Iberia) or Lisbon (TAP Portugal).
The most popular transportation is a cab. A trip around the city averages from $ 6, cab driver is very easy to catch, they are at every intersection. It’s enough to shout: “Taxi” and in a couple of minutes a car will appear, just like in the movies. In large cities there are varieties of our “shuttles”. At the back is nailed a small platform where you can ride standing up. The fare on the step is free.
Traffic, as in all African countries, is very chaotic, the cars are very old, almost falling apart on the move. It is very easy for an inexperienced driver to get into an accident on these roads.
Terrain in Senegal:: Generally lowlands, plains transition to foothills to the south of the country.
Standard of living
Locals live poor, any work is already good, because the country has 46% unemployment. A salary of $100 is considered very good. Human labor here is worth a penny, which, unfortunately, and take advantage of most new Europeans. The locals are very helpful and ready to help the tourist. Of course for a small gift.
Cities of Senegal
Dakar is the capital of the country. The westernmost city in Africa, stands on the shores of the Atlantic Ocean. There are no special attractions: the city is large and very dusty. Only in the city center there is picturesque colonial architecture in the Art Deco style.
Monument of Freedom, Senegal. Photo by Jeff Attaway.
Senegal is an independent state in western Africa, which got its name from the Senegal River. The western borders of the territory face the Atlantic Ocean, while Senegal shares other borders with Mauritania, Mali, and Guinea, respectively. Within the state, a thin strip runs Gambia, another independent semi-enclave, which has access to the ocean.
Senegal is considered a unique place that combines French colonial chic and African exoticism. Here the endless savannas are replaced by picturesque oases with lush vegetation. The distinctive culture of the local population is unlikely to leave anyone indifferent. If you want to at least temporarily become a part of an authentic African life, then Senegal will certainly meet your expectations.
Hotel Les Collines de Niassam, Senegal. Photo by Chris Watkins.
Nature and Climate
The territory of Senegal is almost 200 sq. km. The country is located in a zone of subequatorial climate and has a flat terrain with savannas and sparse vegetation. Only in the southeastern part of the country there are rare highlands, where the highest point does not exceed half a kilometer above sea level.
The weather in the north of the country is predominantly arid, while in the south there is high humidity. Temperatures are about the same throughout the year, ranging from +23 in January to +28°C in July.
In addition to the Senegal River in the north, there is another major river in the south, the Casamance River. The other rivers are shallow and dry up completely during the dry summer. The animal life today is not diverse, although until comparatively recently many of the large fauna typical of the region could be found here, but almost all of them have been exterminated. In areas remote from large cities and villages inhabited by cheetahs, jackals, hyenas, rare birds and reptiles. In the coastal waters of the ocean there are many fish, including predatory members of the aquatic world, for example, you can often see sharks.
Zebras, Fatala Park, Senegal. Photo by rogerkessell.
History of Senegal
The country’s history can be divided into three periods: before the arrival of the Europeans, the colonial period and the independent period. Before the landing of the first Europeans there were scattered African tribes living along the Senegal River. In the 9th-13th centuries on the territory of modern Senegal several ancient states existed at once. Around that time Islam, brought by the conquerors from Arab countries, became widespread. In time Islamization finally strengthened, to this day almost the entire population of the country is Muslim.
The first Europeans arrived in what is now Senegal in the mid-15th century. It is documented that in 1444 Portuguese navigators reached the shores of the Atlantic at the place where Senegal flows into the ocean waters. The Portuguese immediately saw the advantageous location and settled on the island of Gorée, which was later transformed into the largest slave trading center in the region.
In 1620 the island of Gorée near the coast of Senegal was conquered by the Dutch, followed by the English and the French. France soon asserted its right of trade control in the region. As part of the Senegalese Company, founded by the French, a settlement-factoria was established at the mouth of the Senegal River in 1638, later renamed the city of Saint-Louis. The fate of the island of Gorée under French expansion was sealed – in 1677 it also became French.
In the course of years of wars with local states by the end of the 19th century, French expansion ended in victory and the creation of the colony of Senegal, which joined the ranks of other French colonies in the western part of the continent. The first decades of the 20th century were marked by the active assimilation of the Senegalese population initiated by the French government. For example, locals gained the right to participate in the elections of the French Parliament, which elected its first black deputy, Blaise Diagne, the future mayor of Dakar.
The island of Gorée, Senegal. Photo by James A. Brown.
Long-awaited sovereignty and modern life in Senegal
After World War II, Senegal’s colonial status was changed to a French overseas territory. This was the first major victory of the local political forces in the struggle for independence. Senegal officially became an independent state in 1960.
With the acquisition of sovereignty from the young republic was expelled almost the entire European population, among whom many useful professionals. The illiterate indigenous population struggled to keep the existing industrial and agricultural facilities afloat.
More than 75% of the working population was now employed in the agricultural sector. Peanuts, rice, cotton, sorghum, and several other crops are grown for export. Exports of minerals include phosphates, oil and derivatives, gold.
Termitenik, Senegal. Photo by Beth.
Population and local customs
Senegal has a population of just over 17 million people. 99% of the population is black, 1% are French and Lebanese. 96.5% of the total population are Muslim and only 3.5% are followers of Christian religions. More than 70% live in rural areas. Senegal still has French influence to this day, and this is expressed both in the appearance of the cities and in everyday life. For example, French is the second official language, along with Arabic (Hassaniya, an Arabic dialect common in Western Sahara).
Interestingly, despite the high level of Islamization, alcoholic beverages are very common in Senegal, which are openly consumed both by Senegalese themselves and by visiting tourists.
A pair of green pikes, Senegal. Photo by Sandeep Gangadharan.
Culinary traditions of Senegal
The long-term influence of Europeans has left its mark on the formation of the culture of the local population, especially in the development of the cuisine. The national dishes of Senegal are mostly of French origin. But if you want you can find African dishes cooked according to old recipes, for this you will have to look for ethnic institutions in the province.
The Senegalese diet is centered on rice, which is grown in several varieties. In the southern regions of Senegal dishes made of corn are common. Fish, seafood, and meat are served together with cereals. One of the most popular dishes is chechuyab, consisting of rice stewed with vegetables and added tomato sauce. Special attention is paid to various sauces, local chefs cook them in great variety, cardinally changing the taste of usual dishes. Beuze is a sauce made from baobab leaves, Yeth is a fish sauce, Roff is a garlic sauce with bay leaf. And these are not all the culinary delights of Senegal.
Meat is quite expensive product in Senegal, but fresh fish and seafood is on sale everywhere and costs a penny by local standards. Fish is cooked in all manner of ways – boiled, stuffed, made into minced fish and fried fritters with added vegetables.
Desserts are prepared according to French and Arabian recipes. Fresh fruit is an expensive delicacy for the Senegalese, as the arid climate is unfavourable for their cultivation. Of drinks the locals prefer strong tea with mint, and spicy coffee with the addition of cloves and pepper.
Senegal. Photo by Micheline Canal.
Dakar – the capital of Senegal
Dakar leads the top three largest cities in the country. The metropolis is located on the Atlantic coast, on the Cape Verde Peninsula. Dakar was founded by French colonialists and was once their main port.
Among the attractions of Dakar is the Theodore Monod Museum of African Art, which has no analogues in the western part of the continent. While in town, be sure to visit the Monument of African Renaissance, a grandiose statue that is the highest on the entire continent. Buy souvenirs, local clothes and other things at good prices can be found in the famous market of Dakar – Koloban.
Dakar, Senegal. Photo by Robert Banhidi.
Development of tourism in Senegal
The country’s tourism industry has been booming in recent years. Staking on increasing the inflow of tourists, the local government does everything to attract tourists from different parts of the world. So, one of the effective measures was the reduction of airfares – now the cost of the flight became even more affordable. There was even created a special agency, which has a task to increase the number of tourists to three million people by 2023, and thus to include Senegal in the top five most visited countries on the African continent.
Despite the fact that Senegal does not have any cardinal differences from the neighboring countries, it attracts tourists due to the stability of the economy and politics. It is hard not to agree that enjoying the beauty of nature is much more pleasant when the conditions for a good holiday, including security and public order.
The kingfisher, Senegal. Photo by juliendebande.
Where to stay in Senegal
Tourist complexes are concentrated mainly in the coastal zone. Here are hotels and hotels 3-5 stars, where you can find accommodation for every budget. A typical type of apartments – separate bungalows, stylized like the huts of local residents, both externally and internally. One of the most popular hotels is a three-star Royal Saly, which combines low room rates and fantastic views of the ocean. In addition to individual bungalows, the hotel has an entire building with budget rooms, for those who want to save money. Most hotels and hotels have their own beach, fully equipped to meet the needs of vacationers.
Lovers of first-class holidays will be happy to stay in one of the hotels of such international hotel giants as Radisson Blue, Terrou-Bi, Yaas, etc. – All of them are located in and around Dakar.
The hotel complexes, which have appeared in recent years, and continue to be built, demonstrate the serious intentions of Senegal to turn tourism into the main source of income. Today almost 10 percent of the population is involved in tourism, and this share only continues to grow each year. Not only domestic policy, but also Senegal’s international relations contribute to the development of tourism. For example, among the major foreign investors are Chinese and Malaysian companies. China is Senegal’s second most important trading partner after the European Union.
Pelican Hotel, Ndangane, Senegal. Photo by Beth.
How to get to Senegal
Planning a vacation to an exotic country is convenient because citizens of the Russian Federation do not require a visa. However, remember that in this case your stay in the country should not exceed 90 days. Before the trip it is recommended to buy medical insurance in advance – so your stay away from home will be protected from unforeseen circumstances. There are no direct flights from Russia and CIS countries to Senegal so far, and to reach your destination you must change planes, for example in Paris, Madrid, Lisbon or Istanbul.
Somon, Senegal. The photo by Thierry Laurent.