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Senegal Travel Notes

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Senegal Travel and Tourism on Travel Notes


From surfing along the Atlantic coast to trekking through lush national parks, Senegal offers endless adventure opportunities for the active traveller.

About Senegal

Senegal offers visitors a range of activities, including exploring traditional markets, visiting museums and cultural centres, and enjoying beautiful beaches.

Countries neighbouring Senegal: Gambia, Guinea Bissau, Guinea, Mali and Mauritania.

Travel Map Mapping Senegal

Map of Senegal

Map of Senegal

Senegal was a former French colony; gaining independence on June 20, 1960 with French Sudan; as the Mali Federation.

On 20th August, 1960, Senegal withdrew from the Mali Federation and became a separate republic, while the former French Sudan kept the name of Mali.

Senegal Overview

Senegal is located in West Africa, bordered by the Atlantic Ocean to the west, Mauritania to the north and north-east, Mali to the east, and Gambia, Guinea and Guinea Bissau to the south.

A country with a rich cultural heritage, diverse natural landscapes, and a resilient and welcoming population, Senegal offers visitors a unique blend of history, music, art, and cuisine; making it a fascinating destination to explore in West Africa.


Senegal is known for its diverse cultural heritage, influenced by various ethnic groups, including the Wolof, Fulani, Serer, and Mandinka.

The country is renowned for its music, dance, and art, with traditional instruments such as the kora and the djembe featuring prominently in Senegalese music.

The annual Saint-Louis Jazz Festival and the Dakar Biennale are major cultural events in Senegal.


Senegal's economy is diverse, with agriculture, fishing, mining, and tourism being key sectors.

The country is one of the largest producers of peanuts in Africa and also exports fish, phosphates, and gold.

Tourism is an important source of revenue, with attractions such as the vibrant capital city of Dakar, the historic island of Gorée, and the natural beauty of the Casamance region attracting plenty of visitors to the region.


The first Europeans to reach the mouth of the Senegal River and start trading with the native Wolof were the Portuguese, in the mid 15th century.

About 150 years later the Dutch gained control of the seafaring trade, and by 1700 it was the French who dominated commerce along the coast.

There were Anglo-French rivalry and conflicts in the area during the late 17th and 18th centuries, but French influence had already extended well into the interior; through African middlemen.

As interests changed from commercial to political, Senegal was officially made a French colony in 1895; administered initially from Saint-Louis.

Gorée Island

Gorée Island, located off the coast of Dakar, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a symbol of the Atlantic slave trade.

The island's House of Slaves museum bears witness to this dark chapter in history and serves as a memorial to the millions of Africans who were forcibly enslaved and transported to the Americas.


Senegal has a rich history dating back thousands of years, with evidence of human habitation as far back as the Stone Age.

It was part of several ancient African empires, including the Ghana Empire and the Mali Empire.

In the 15th century, European traders began arriving in Senegal, leading to the establishment of colonial settlements by the Portuguese, Dutch, French, and British.


The official language of Senegal is French, inherited from its colonial past.

However, several indigenous languages are also spoken, including Wolof, Serer, Pulaar, and Mandinka.


Senegal is a democratic republic with a multi-party political system.

The President of Senegal is both the head of state and the head of government.


Islam is the predominant religion in Senegal, practiced by approximately 95% of the population.

Senegal is known for its tolerant and syncretic form of Islam, characterised by the co-existence of traditional African religious beliefs and Islamic practices.

Visiting Senegal

Senegal offers a wealth of experiences for travellers seeking adventure, culture, and relaxation.

Visitors to Senegal can experience a range of cultural experiences, stunning natural landscapes, and vibrant cities.

Whether you're exploring historic cities, cruising through mangrove forests, or immersing yourself in the vibrant rhythms of Senegalese music, you're sure to create unforgettable memories in this beautiful West African country.

Senegal Highlights


Discover the lush and scenic region of Casamance, in southern Senegal.

Explore picturesque villages, relax on pristine beaches, and enjoy fresh seafood cuisine.

Don't miss the vibrant markets of Ziguinchor, the capital of Casamance, and take a boat trip through the mangrove forests of the Casamance River Delta.


Start your journey in Senegal's vibrant capital city, Dakar.

Explore bustling markets like Marché Sandaga, visit historical sites such as the IFAN Museum of African Arts, and admire the iconic African Renaissance Monument.

Don't miss the colourful street art in neighbourhoods like Ouakam and the lively nightlife scene along the Corniche.

Île de Gorée

Take a short ferry ride from Dakar to Île de Gorée, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a poignant reminder of the transatlantic slave trade.

Visit the House of Slaves museum, which documents the island's role in the slave trade and honours the memory of its victims.

Despite its somber history, Île de Gorée is also known for its charming colonial architecture and scenic beaches.

Local Cuisine

Sample the diverse and flavourful cuisine of Senegal, which features dishes such as thieboudienne (Senegalese fish and rice), yassa poulet (marinated chicken with onions and mustard sauce), and pastels (fried pastries filled with fish or meat).

Don't forget to try refreshing beverages like bissap (hibiscus tea) and freshly squeezed juice from tropical fruits.

Music and Dance

Experience the rhythmic beats and vibrant dances of Senegalese music; which blends traditional African rhythms with modern influences.

Attend a live performance of mbalax music, characterised by its energetic drumming and danceable melodies, or participate in a local sabar dance class.

Pink Lake (Lac Rose)

Experience the surreal beauty of Senegal's Pink Lake, named for its distinctive pink hue caused by high concentrations of salt-loving algae.

Take a boat tour of the lake, interact with local salt harvesters, and marvel at the striking landscape surrounding the lake; including sand dunes and baobab trees.


Explore the historic city of Saint-Louis, situated on an island at the mouth of the Senegal River.

Marvel at its well-preserved colonial architecture, narrow streets, and colourful colonial buildings.

Visit the Faidherbe Bridge, stroll along the waterfront promenade, and take a traditional pirogue boat ride on the Senegal River.

Sine-Saloum Delta

Embark on a safari adventure in the Sine-Saloum Delta, a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve known for its rich biodiversity and stunning natural beauty.

Cruise through winding waterways, spot diverse bird species, and visit traditional fishing villages.

You can also try your hand at fishing or simply relax on the sandy riverbanks.

Senegal Language and Culture

The official language of Senegal is French, with Wolof, Serer, and Fulani being the most widely used of the African languages.

The Wolof people of Senegal use drumming, singing, and dancing as an integral part of social activities and ceremonies.

Getting Around Senegal

Senegal by Road

Senegal has a good road network.

Senegal by Rail

The railway connects Dakar with Mali.

Senegal by Air

Less than 5 hours from Europe, Dakar is served by many major airlines.

If you're adventurous you can even fly in to neighbouring Gambia on cheaper charter flights from England or Germany, and travel overland to Senegal.

Senegal Tourism

Senegal has some fine beaches and national parks, although Dakar is more expensive than neighbouring Gambia.


The French founded Dakar on Cap Vert Peninsula (the westernmost point of the African continent) and the Atlantic coast, in the mid-19th century; to benefit from its strategic position along the trade routes, between Europe and ports in South Africa and South America.

Map of Dakar

Map of Dakar

Dakar's commercial importance took off in 1885 when the railway linking it with the city of St Louis, on the Senegal River, was completed and in 1902 Dakar replaced St Louis as the capital of French West Africa.

Dakar also serves as a shipping centre for Mauritania, and The Gambia.

An interesting day trip from Dakar, is to take the short ferry ride across to Goree Island, and visit the thriving artist community.

Where to Stay in Dakar

King Fahd Palace Hotel

King Fahd Palace Hotel

King Fahd Palace Hotel: Pointe des Almadies, Dakar, Senegal.

This is probably the most prestigious 5-star hotel in Senegal. Enjoy a rich buffet breakfast at Le Manguier restaurant and a gourmet buffet, or a la carte, for lunch and dinner in Les Jardins de l’Ocean.

Guests at the King Fahd Palace Hotel enjoyed the rich breakfast buffet, the great on-site restaurant and the level of service provided by staff.


Situated on Saint-Louis Island, at the mouth of the Senegal River - which forms the northern border with Mauritania - Saint-Louis serves as the transportation hub for the agricultural Senegal River valley.

Saint-Louis was established by the French in 1659, as a fortified trading post, and is one of the oldest European- founded settlements in West Africa.

The city was initially the capital of both Senegal and Mauritania.


Tambacounda is a major train stop from Dakar to Bamako.

Tambacounda, once a part of the Ancient Empire of Mali, is legendary for its rich Djembe drum and dance culture.

Niokolo-Koba National Park

There is a luxury hotel at Simenti, which is the most visited part of the park. There are also bungalows and an hotel at Niokolo-Koba, lodgings at Badi, and several camping grounds.

Animals can be watched from hides or on guided safaris. Animals disperse in the rains, so best viewing times are from the end of October to the end of June, when most tours are organised. There is an airstrip at Simenti.

Senegal Maps and Travel Guides

Senegal (Bradt Travel Guide) Senegal & The Gambia Map - Reise Know-How Verlag

Senegal Travel Guides - Senegal Maps.

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