Sun and Sea in Senegal

Senegal is one of West Africa’s top tourist destinations. The beautiful coast line, beaches and the sunny weather all attract holiday makers. Fantastic reserves offer opportunity for animal and bird watching, and ecotourism. Senegal has a French colonial history, and some places have a distinctly European feel, highlighted by the French language. Top class museums, an ancient stone circle, and slave-trade history intrigue visitors to this historical land.

Senegal,isle de la Madeleine

The best beach: Ile N’Gor

N’Gor Island is not far from Dakar airport, but is one of the best locations in the country. Good seafood, fun-loving people, and opportunity to explore off the beaten track. The beach has pure golden sand and is the place to catch some of the best surf in West Africa. The chilled out Caribbean vibe is accentuated by reggae rhythms, and the markets hold many delights for art enthusiasts.

The best safari: Fathala Reserve

The Fathala reserve is part of the Saloum Delta National Park, and is an area of outstanding natural beauty. The reserve is well-known for its forests, wetlands and hundreds of species of wildlife. Visitors can take trips on the local boats known as ‘pirogues’, or take fishing and hiking tours. The little village of Missirah is a base where all this can be arranged, and is a charming sight in itself.

A Senegal Coucal (Centropus senegalensis) resting on a stump in profile ** Note: Shallow depth of field

A Senegal Coucal (Centropus senegalensis) resting on a stump in profile
** Note: Shallow depth of field

The best for history: Ile de Goree

Goree Island was an important stopping point on the slave trade route from Africa to America. From the 16th to the 19th century forts and houses were built on the island, where slaves and their traders lived while awaiting transport to the New World.

Visitors can take a short ferry ride to the island and visit the forts and museums, including La Maison des Enclaves, the holding place for the slaves. Despite the unpleasant history the island has beautiful Mediterranean architecture and is a calm and quiet destination.

The best city: Dakar

The capital city is well known for its nightlife and music scene. An eclectic mix of French jazz, American funk and hip-hop, and African beats thrive here. The city offers open air markets selling food, art, jewellery and clothes. The Musee Theodore Monod, an African art gallery, and the Institute Francais Leopold Sedar Senghor, for art influenced by the French, are exceptional world-class museums.

The best for local life: Lac Rose

‘Pink Lake’ is one of the top destinations in Senegal. It is named for its stunning waters, which glow pink on sunny days. This is due to the high salt content, which locals harvest by hand for trading. Visitors can witness this salt harvesting, or simply swim in the glorious warm waters. It is also possible to go horseback riding, as trips are offered by local inns.

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