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No other African nation lies further west than Senegal, whose Gorée Island off the coast of its ocean-side capital, Dakar, was the last sight several slaves glimpsed of their homeland before they were loaded onto slave ships bound for destinations across the New World. Today, many of the descendants of those slaves have returned to Senegal in search of their roots. However, visitors do not need to be of African descent to be moved by Gorée Island’s House of Slaves or to enjoy Senegal’s famous ‘teranga’ hospitality culture.

At least 75 percent of Senegal’s population lives in its capital, Dakar, the African continent’s westernmost city. Dakar is a bustling port city filled with lively markets, interesting museums, and one of Africa’s strongest music scenes. Senegal’s original capital, however, is St Louis, located 161 miles north of Dakar. As West Africa’s oldest European-created city, St Louis still contains several remnants of its French colonial past, especially the elegant balconies in front of its brightly colored buildings. Less than 50 miles south of Dakar lies La Petite Côte, a stunning strip of Atlantic Ocean coastline whose luxurious beach resorts are a fraction of what similar accommodations would cost in the Mediterranean Sea or Caribbean.

However, visitors yearning for a true taste of Senegal should take a traditional pirogue boat tour past picturesque villages along the Casamance River or an unforgettable safari through Niokolo-Koba or Saloum Delta national parks. Niokolo-Koba’s most stunning landmark is the 360 foot high Dindefelo Falls, while Saloum Delta contains Djoudj National Bird Sanctuary, one of Senegal’s many bird watching havens, and the Fathala Game Reserve, where visitors can observe Senegal’s exotic wildlife from the safety of their own vehicles. One of the world’s most unusual bodies of water is the bright pink Lake Retba, where visitors can easily float thanks to its almost 40 percent salt content.

The number of hotel rooms in Senegal may have increased dramatically in recent years, but advance reservations during the country’s December to May dry season, Senegal’s peak tourism season, are still highly recommended. Dakar still contains the lion’s share of Senegal’s best quality hotels, but luxury resorts have also popped up along the Petite Côte’s Saly-Portugal beach strip and the Casamance. Despite their name, Senegal’s ‘campements’ are not campgrounds, but rural guesthouses similar to Western-style bed and breakfast establishments. Hotel guests should bring flashlights as Senegal’s electricity is frequently cut off after dark, and visitors should bring their own bedding if invited to spend a night at a local hut.

Senegal’s climate is divided into three distinct sections: The northern Sahel region’s semi-arid landscape, which experiences low rainfall and dramatic temperature variations - Sahel temperatures can reach up to 104°F during the day, but plunge down to 57°F at night. Southern Senegal is even hotter and more humid than the rest of the country, with heavy rainfall and average temperatures of 86°F throughout the year. Most coastal rain falls between July and August, however, all of Senegal experiences the same hot tropical temperatures all year long. Senegal’s two main seasons are its December to April dry season, which brings almost constant sunshine alongside hot and dry winds called harmattan.

Dakar’s Léopold Sédar Senghor International Airport is the main gateway to Senegal for most foreign visitors, but some also enter the country by boat from Europe, South America, the Canary Islands, or other African ports. Ferry crossings across the Gambia River are part of the Trans-Gambian Highway. Rosso is the most dependable border crossing for motorists driving to Senegal from Mauritania, where roads are tarred and in better quality than the roads between Senegal and Guinea-Bissau, which are still untarred. São Domingo is the main border crossing between Senegal and Guinea-Bissau. There may no longer be a passenger rail service connecting Senegal to Mali, but adventurous motorists can still drive between the two countries across a 2,120 mile long Sahara Desert road.

It takes special courage to drive in Senegal, from Dakar’s chaotic traffic-filled streets to the many poorly maintained or downright inaccessible roads in the country’s rural regions. Fortunately, visitors can also reach rural Senegal from the safety of a bush taxi or use one of Dakar’s many types of taxis to travel across Senegal’s capital. Dakar Demm Dikk is the capital’s main bus network. Mini-buses called cars rapides are Senegal’s most popular transportation means across communities, but ferries also frequently depart Dakar for Ziguinchor and Banjul. The 761 mile railroad connecting Senegal with Bamako, Mali recently went bankrupt.

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Dakar - The capital of Senegal
Dakar, Senegal

The capital of Senegal, Dakar, is one of the most developed cities in West Africa. Starting with the Place de l’Indépendance, the heart of the city and the center of much activity, the action continues through the busy streets of the Sandaga Market. From here it’s not far to the harbor and its ferries departing daily for the former slave island of Île de Gorée. Also worth a visit is Dakar’s oldest quarter, the Plateau-Viertel, where you’ll find historic buildings and also nice little boutiques.

Saint Louis
Saint Louis, Senegal

Those who’re interested in the history of this country should drive north to take in Saint Louis. The former capital of French West Africa is, today, a peaceful spot. You’ll find solitary sand beaches, colonial history, and intact nature. Starting from here you can take in the Senegal River, which can be elegantly toured by boat, and both national parks, Langue de Barbarie and Djoudji.

Touba, Senegal

The sacred town of Touba is a Mourid Islamic stronghold and a wonderful place to learn about Senegal’s 1,000-year-old Muslim heritage and three distinct sects, beginning with the striking Great Mosque. Conservative clothing should be worn by both men and women here, and alcohol, tobacco and music are forbidden in respect of this most sacred of towns. But obey these rules, and you will be welcomed.

Ziguinchor, Senegal

Ziguinchor is the largest town in southern Senegal, and the main access point for travel in the Casamance region. With its old houses, tree-lined streets and busy markets, this former colonial centre exudes real atmosphere. It's worth spending a night or two here to feel the pulse of this tropical, mangrove-fringed city before rushing off to the coast.

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Senegal is located on the shoulder of West Africa on the coast of the North Atlantic Ocean. It shares a border with no fewer than five countries, including Mauritania to the north, Guinea Bissau to the southwest, Guinea to the southeast and Mali to the east. It is intersected in the south by The Gambia and is the westernmost country on the continent.  


Public transportation in Senegal is truly a challenge, with the unofficial motto being “wait, wait, wait.” That said, with a little patience and attentiveness, you’ll soon be able to make a little sense of the system. In Senegal, only the very wealthy have cars. The entire nation is therefore dependent on public transportation.Commercial airlines serve three cities in Senegal: Cap Skirring and Ziguinchor in the Casamance region, in the south, and Dakar

Languages Spoken

The main languages spoken in Senegal are Wolof and French. But we found quite a few people who speak English, particularly the young Senegalese who are constantly hassling tourists. You can always find help at your hotel or use Google Translator.


The currency used in Senegal is West African Franc (CFA). The exchange rate is roughly US$1=580 CFA. You can get a decent exchange rate at the airport, so changing money at the change bureau near baggage claim is definitely worth it.


Visitors to Senegal require a visa unless they come from one of the visa exempt countries. Visitors must hold passports that are valid for at least 3 months fromVisitors from the EU, USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and 80-plus other countries can enter Senegal without a visa for stays of up to 90 days. the date of arrival.


The voltage in Senegal is 230 V which is the same voltage used in France, Germany, and the United Kingdom.

230 V has an advantage over lower voltage such as the 110 V that it is cheaper to transmit. On the other hand, 230 V is more dangerous than lower voltages.


In recent years, Senegal has made vast strides in the battle against malaria, with cases falling from over 30% in the early 2000s to less than 5% in 2015. Many of the main cities, such as Dakar and Saint-Louis can be visited without malaria medication. But you should take precautions during the rainy season (late June – September) and if heading inland (especially the southeast). Remember to bring a good mosquito repellent, tissue and sunblock.

Emergency Calls

Senegal's country code - 221

International access code - 00

Ambulance (SOS Médecins) - 33 889 1515

Fire - 18

Police - 17

When to visit
Best time to visit the destination

The best time to visit Senegal is during the dry season from November to February. These are the coolest months and the best time to see wildlife. It’s best to avoid the rainy season from late June to September. Some national parks can become inaccessible and even closed. The heat and humidity can be extreme and malaria is a serious problem.

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Don’t miss to challenge your world

Sine Saloum South

The wonderful Fathala Wildlife Reserve lies within the delta. Here you can see many native animals that have been reintroduced to the area including zebra, rhino, giraffe and the giant eland. The Sine Saloum Delta, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is formed where two rivers converge on the Atlantic Ocean, creating a region of great biodiversity with its estuarine environment, mangrove swamps and sand islands.


Kafountine is the largest fishing village in Casamance. Here you can watch the fishermen bringing in the catch of the day. Men and women wade into the waves to unload the boats and carry the fish back in large buckets on their heads to be sold or smoked. 

IFAN Museum of African Arts

Seminal artworks and artifacts from Mali, the Ivory Coast, Guinea Bissau, Burkina Faso, and beyond inhabit the l’Institut Fondamental d’Afrique Noire (IFAN Museum of African Arts) in the Senegalese capital. The museum’s noteworthy collection presents an important glimpse into West African history and the visual cultures that comprise this region. Ritual masks, instruments, clothing, and weapons occupy the IFAN Museum, one of the oldest and most prominent institutions dedicated to the research and exhibition of West African art and artifacts. 

Lake Retba

Evoking visions of Candyland fantasies, the princess pink waters of Lake Retba are deceptively inviting. White beaches and sandy dunes call to tourists, film crews, and even play host to the finish line of the Dakar Rally. As tempting as it appears, despite its popularity, and the fact that you will often see people wading through the pink waves, Lake Retba is not the friendliest of waters, and that white sand is mostly salt. Also known as “Lac Rose,” this unique lake lies just north of the Cap Vert Peninsula of Senegal, northeast of Dakar.

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FAQs about Sénégal

How wealthy is Senegal?

Senegal has the 20th-highest Gross Domestic Product (GDP) at Purchasing Power Parity (PPP) among African countries (47.335 million International dollars). The top 10 African countries by GDP (PPP) are: Africa, Egypt, Nigeria, South Africa, Algeria, Morocco, Ethiopia, Angola, Sudan, Libya.

From relatively low levels of crime and disease to a population renowned for being generous hosts, Senegal tends to be a safe, hassle-free travel destination. A stable democracy with a friendly and welcoming population, travelling to and through Senegal is safer than most other countries in the region.

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