Senegal is a West African country that offers something for everyone, from deserts and savannahs to forests and beaches. Here’s our list of ten things you can do in Senegal if visiting for the first time:
1) Visit the Old Town of Saint Louis which was built at the mouth of the Senegal River on an island now connected to the mainland by a dam. The island was a major trading center until the 19th century when the French colonialists moved their capital to Dakar. The old town is still filled with markets, mosques, and other buildings of historical significance.
2) Explore the Casamance region where you can visit small villages, learn about stilt fishing from local fishermen, and discover an oasis influenced by Portuguese culture.
3) Do the Gorée Island tour and visit the site of one of the largest slave markets in Africa that operated until 1807. The island is also famous for its historic French colonial architecture, including the Victor Hugo house where you can stop for a drink at the bar.
4) Visit the Parc National du Niokolo Koba which is home to Senegal’s only large predator, the African wild dog, as well as many other endangered species.
5) Visit the Touba Magal grand mosque in Touba, Diourbel where you may see pilgrims fasting and praying.
6) Spend the day on Gorée Island by visiting the colorful fish market, local souvenir shops, and traditional Senegalese food stalls.
7) Enjoy a cultural evening at the IFAN Museum (African Arts Museum), Dakar, Senegal where visitors can check out the exotic galleries.
8) Ten minutes from the capital, Dakar, and near the National Palace, lies a small town known as Ouakam. Stop here to see and learn about the life of the Wolof people who make up two-thirds of the people of Senegal. Make sure to try their local food specialties.
9) Visit the town of Rufisque located south of Dakar where you can see an active volcano from the park where it lies. It is also possible to attend a concert at the beach.
10) Visit Kaolack, Africa’s center for leather production and home to many arts and craft shops. You may want to visit one on your way back from Gorée Island.
10) Be sure to stop at a street food stand on your way back from Gorée Island and order White Baobab’s specialty, Tsalout Berr.
11) Check out the beach at Plage des Mamelles that is known for its crystal clear waters and sandy white shores.
12) Enjoy the hot air balloon rides over the city of Dakar. These rides may be canceled during rainy weather because of strong winds. You will also find a few accommodation options in Gorée Island that offer balloon tours.