Peek into West African culture and history.
I visited Morocco before few years ago, it was the country I was thinking about, when I landed in Senegal. It looks very similar. This place has never been on my list, but my best friend was there, and she loved it, so I decided to give it a try. I knew there will not be any diving neither golf. I was aiming for surf lessons this time. The country is lined with beaches popular with surfers. I took my mom and also my beautiful 2 doggie girls with me. That was a reason why I used a travel agency, so we are all safe. No risks.
As one of the most stable countries in West Africa, Senegal is easily the best place to go for an introduction to the region.
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 is 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. If you are planning to travel only around Dakar, you won’t have to worry about Malaria.
Senegal is known as one of the safest countries in West Africa. With relatively low levels of crime and disease, plus a stable democracy, Senegal is quite a safe travel destination.
West Africa tends to be more challenging for those who don’t speak French. Like other French speaking countries, they are not willing to learn any other language :-). You must looooove Frenchies! Languages spoken in Senegal are Wolof and French, just few people speaking English. Don’t expect taxi drivers or waiters to speak English either .
The majority of Senegalese are Muslims, but they tend to be less conservative than their counterparts elsewhere in Africa.
Senegal is generally cheap when it comes to accommodation and transport. You can get a room at a guesthouse for around $20/night and a comfortable AC room in Dakar fot $50-70/night.
We chose all inclusive Royal Horizon Baobab 35 minutes away from the airport in Dakar. Just because my best friend was so happy there. It is 4star hotel with a great location on the beach and right next to the beautiful natural lagoon with national park.
It is a beautiful resort full of green palms and bungalows. I really love the setup. But, there is no WIFI in these rooms, which is very odd – especially in 21 century, when half of the people is working online. I have never experienced a hotel without wifi in the room, not even in Africa …. Rooms were nice, they had AC, but there is not even a fridge and could really use some updating.
Lack of English is very frustrating but that’s how it is with “Frenchies” everywhere. They didn’t even bother to translate food and drink menu to English. I read some feedback that the food is not good. Well – I don’t agree with that statement. I loved the food unlike my scale at home – +3kg is the best feedback for their kitchen. What I didn’t like on the restaurant, you will have to sit in the front (if you are a girl) close to managers, otherwise they will bother you for contact info and other attention. So annoying. So stay close to the entrance, there is always somebody from management who is very kind and helpful. We experienced the director Gerard, who was incredible – he was even thinking about my doggies and asked if they can prepare something for them to eat. What a great guy. Otherwise Don’t expect any smile from employees or be prepare to wait for the water forever at the table. I have traveled many countries, but I have probably never experienced such a horrible service and I was recently in Zanzibar which I really loved – friendly people, smiling, kind, nice, helpful.
Overall the beauty of the resort with the most beautiful sunsets beats the lack of professional service, and I fell in LOVE with the place.
Thanks to my friend Barca, I met an incredible French guy – Phillipe (I don’t say it much about French people), who became my surf teacher. I have never been surfing before, so I decided to learn. Sooooo happy …. it is never too late for first time. And after 10 lessons I was surfing like a pro. He did an excellent job. And I am definitely coming back to keep surfing these beautiful waves. Cant wait!
Things to see
Downtown Dakar & Ouakam
Dakar is where most of the colonial buildings are found. But of course, be prepared for some hassling. Ufff.
Check Le Musee des Civilisations Noires
Gare du Dakar
Hotel du Ville
Marche Kermel (street market)
Monument de la Renaissance Africaine (tallest statue in Africa)
Goree Island – UNESCO site
Ngor – fishing village that is one of the most attractive areas. Ngor has a nice beach with lots of colorful boats lined up on the sand.
Saint Louis – countryside of Senegal. It was the first French settlement in Africa, founded in 1659. It became a thriving trading centre, and eventually the capital of the French colonial empire.
Bandia Wildlife Reserve – if it is your first time in Africa and you are dying to see big animals, head to Bandia Reserve just outside Dakar. Don’t even bother if you experienced a safari in Tanzania, Kenya or South Africa. We went because my mom has never seen any safari.
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