If you have not chosen Senegal as your vacation destination, you're missing out on a lot. You are probably one of the few asking: where is Senegal located in Africa? Well, Senegal is a country located in the Western side of Africa, bordering the Atlantic Ocean. It surrounds the Gambia except in the Atlantic Ocean. Dakar Senegal is Senegal's capital city and acts as a port city too.
Your time in Senegal will undoubtedly be a lot of fun, as there is a lot that awaits you. The official language for Senegal people is French, and you should polish up on some French before embarking on a journey to the country.
The several reasons why you should travel to Senegal include its various attractions such as magnificent beaches, world heritage sites, unique art, wildlife, heavenly music, etc. Below, I compiled a list highlighting why you should travel to Senegal right now.
1. Very hospitable Senegalese people
The Senegalese people offer the most incredible hospitality to all visitors exploring their wonderful country. The hospitality is infused into their cultural ways of life, to the extent of naming it "Teranga" in Wolof, their primary local language. Teranga is a concept where everyone should be welcomed and cared for without considering differences such as beliefs, race, religion, and ethnicity. The practice of Teranga makes locals host visitors by default. The locals here greet you warmly as you walk across the streets and act as guides within the cities, markets, and many other places.
Despite Islam being the dominant religion in Senegal, the locals have no concern over your dressing code. If you travel to Senegal, please normally dress without feeling uncomfortable, especially if you are female.
2. World Heritage sites
Senegal hosts seven World Heritage Sites. The sites are grouped into cultural and natural sites. The sites include;
Islands of Goree, located off Dakar's coast, was famously known for being the most significant slave-trading capital in Africa. It played a vital role in the Atlantic Slave Trade, connecting Africa to the western world. Currently, it is a calm place with no cars on the island, and you can visit it to know more about the slave trade history and get a glimpse of the slave houses.
Bassari country includes Bassari, Fula, and Bedik cultural landscapes. The Senegalese people established a settlement where they practice activities like making terraces, building the thatched-roof houses, and all this is reflected in their spiritual way of life.
The Island of Saint-Louis is a site with a colonial heritage background. It was the capital city in the French colonial era before Dakar Senegal took over. It is located at the mouth of River Senegal.
Saloum Delta is majorly known for shellfish fishing and gathering. The place has shellfish mounds built across it. The shells of the fish are recycled and used to build pathways, houses, and decorate art.
Stone circles of Senegambia are four ancient ruins, and they make the area along River Gambia known for a high concentration of monuments. Their presence at this site makes it sacred. Sine Ngayene in Sine Senegal has the biggest group of 52 stone circles.
Djoudj National Bird Sanctuary. If you love bird watching, this is heaven to various beautiful bird species such as purple heron, white pelican, African spoonbill, and many more. You get to watch bird migration around this area too.
Niokolo Koba National park is a natural site offering floodplains and amazing forest cover to wildlife such as lions, reptiles, amphibians, tortoises. In addition to this, it has various fauna and flora species.
3. Dakar Senegal
Dakar Senegal is the capital city. The city has the privilege of being last to see the sunrise and set. The city is considered safe and has very few crimes happening. If you are an architectural enthusiast, you will marvel at the architecture of the Dakar Great mosque, which shares a lot of architectural design history.
Dakar has many markets like Marche Sandage, where you can get fabric, traditional African wear, African home antiques, souvenirs, food supplies at a flexible price. Soumbedioune outside Dakar is known for selling the best fish.
4. Sun-kissed Beaches and pink Lake
Senegal has beautiful and vast beaches across its over 300 miles Atlantic coastline. They include;
The beach of Saly where you will enjoy sunbathing on its beautiful sand, swim in the ocean and get to watch ships and boats docking at M'bour.
In Somone, on lagoon beach, amidst the mangroves, you will enjoy watching birds, especially the pelicans flying into and out of the water.
The pristine beach located to the south of Dakar in Toubab Dialaw is a fantastic place to be and experience live art scenes.
The La Petite Cote beach located south of Dakar with white sands and Cap Skirring beach are excellent spots.
You will also have the privilege of visiting the pink lake named Lac Rose. Its colour is a natural occurrence resulting from Dunaliella Salina bacteria attracted to the waters' high salinity. Fun activities you can engage in include floating on the salty water and driving around to have a better view of the lake.
5. Delicious cuisine
The country offers various mouthwatering cuisines across its many destinations. The local dishes have some French influence on them as a result of their colonial history.
The traditional food called 'Thieboudienne' serves as Senegal's main dish. It comprises of fresh fish, garlic, tomato paste, vegetables and is served with savoury rice. As you enjoy your meal, some local drumbeats and beautiful tunes will fill the air at every dining location.
For a serving of shrimps marinated along with wine, visit Le N'gor in Dakar to excite your taste buds. However, if you want to taste fresh-fish barbequed skewers, you will have to visit Saly beach for this meal.
Popular dishes include 'maffe,' which means peanut stew, chicken Yassa, Senegalese nem (spring rolls), juices made from ginger, baobab tree, and hibiscus.
Standard etiquette practised is clean hands and use your right hand for eating.
6. Unique Art
The Art scene is exciting to explore. Many artists with creative talent seek out Dakar for inspiration. Village des Arts is a hub for many artists as an onsite gallery, and some of the artists reside here. Many visitors come to this Art hub to hang out with local creative artists.
The first African film, "Borom Street (1963)," was cast in Senegal by an African who was Senegalese.
It has great cultural dances such as the Dubbed Sabar, which has some sex appeal to it and requires you to be energetic to participate in its performance.
Senegal has the tallest statue in the African continent, which is named the African Renaissance Monument. It is located in Dakar Senegal and is 49-meter long. It showcases a man, a woman, and a child. It is bronze in nature, and a Senegalese architect made its design. It was built to celebrate 50 years of independence from France and completed in 2010.
You should visit this monument; it is worth your time.
8. Surfing hotspot
Dakar Senegal's coastline is a renowned surfing destination across the world. It is the best place to go surfing in Africa because of its rolling water waves. The rolling waves are constant throughout the year, making it suitable for everyone to take part.
For the best surfing experience, visit N'gor.
9. National parks
If you hope to have fantastic safari drives with limitless opportunities to spot wildlife and bird viewing experiences, travel to Senegal. It offers various national parks and reserves which harbour a range of wildlife. They include;
Fathala Wildlife Reserve, located in the Sine Saloum Delta, is well known for the best encounters with wildlife in their habitat. It has wildlife such as giraffe and zebra, among other species. The park is accessible by a safari drive vehicle.
Bandia Nature Reserve has a savannah with giraffes, rhinos, zebras wandering across it. You can take a safari, especially in the morning, to see most of the early.
Niokolo Koba National park is famous for spotting West African lions. Lions are used in Senegal as a National Symbol.
Ille de la Madeline is the smallest park in the world.
Sine Saloum Delta is an excellent place for bird viewing and watching the fish jump in and out of the water on Senegal's shores.
10. Music and nightlife
Dakar Senegal, being in West Africa, implies music is part of their normal lifestyle and culture.
Mblaxa is popular Senegalese music, whose style was developed and popularized internationally by Youssou N'dour, a renowned music artist in Dakar Senegal. Youssou N'dour is a musical pioneer in Senegal and has worked with international singers like Sting and Bruce Springsteen.
Mblaxa is infused with rock, jazz, drum beats, and soul music making it appealing to listen and dance.
There are funky nightclubs like Thiossane in Dakar, where you can listen to the Mblaxa genre.
You will certainly have a beautiful moment in Senegal if you invest wisely in the activities you want to take part in. Give your taste buds a new experience with the satisfying meals that you will find in the menu of most hotels and restaurants. Wait no more, get your travel gears ready, and set out for this great West African country.