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5 reasons to travel to Senegal

Whether you are looking for history or just a change of scenery, Senegal is West Africa's most-visited destination, which has made a strong contribution to the country's growth. Upon landing in Dakar, you will see the African Renaissance Monument, which really sets the tone for your stay: an experience rich in culture.

UNESCO-listed World Heritage Sites

The country's cultural highlight, Dakar is home to beaches, boutique markets (I recommend Tilene Market), museums, excellent cafés and concert halls such as Thiossane, which is famous for playing host to Youssou N'Dour. Don't shy away from visiting your surroundings with a guide. They will be able to point out the sites you really shouldn't miss, such as the small beach, the city of Rufisque or Lac Rose (Lake Retba) which is located one hour away by road and is also the final stage of the Dakar Rally.

Another location to the North of Dakar which you really should not miss is Saint-Louis. Classed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2000, the city is also known as the Venice of Africa. This is especially worth a visit if you are a jazz fan... If you can't make it to Casamance during your trip, the bird sanctuaries in the area such as Lengua de Barbarie National Park and Djoudj National Bird Sanctuary are sure to satisfy your curiosity for the local fauna.

Take a journey into the past

Once West Africa's slavery capital, Gorée Island is a well-known place of pilgrimage for the African diaspora wishing to pay homage to their ancestors. Whether you have Senegalese roots or not, this island is well worth a visit, as it is full of history which invokes an unfortunately not-too-distant past. A visit will make you realise how far our society has come in terms of human rights and equality. The House of Slaves provides a real overview of what happened, whether alone or with your family.

Admire Casamance's fauna and flora

In the country's south-east, Casamance is a tourist hotspot thanks to the political situation in the region. However, the influx of visitors will not stop you from appreciating the tropical vegetation and fauna (especially if you have the chance to go and admire the dolphins) or simply the beaches – which are far less busy than those of the coast near Dakar.

Taste West Africa's most varied cuisine

Senegalese cuisine ranges from Thiéboudienne, a national dish of fish and rice, to Poulet Yassa, a dish of chicken marinated in onions. The cuisine has had a variety of influences over time. The result is varied, very rich (in terms of taste, especially) and often left to simmer for hours. If you have ever tried the Malian stew, Maafe, you simply have to try the Senegalese version, which is markedly different. Enjoy Bissap, and Ginger Juice (common across West Africa) and even dare to try Touba coffee (with a scent of black pepper).

Enjoy the gentle pace of African life

The waves of NGor have made this island's beaches famous, especially attracting surfers from the world over. Nonetheless, Senegal has retained its simple and authentic way of live. It has many cultural influences, against the backdrop of a change of scenery as well as a number of opportunities for heart-warming encounters. The Senegalese are welcoming and have never forgotten to take the time to live, even with the influx of Western tourists.
Elodie Arnouk
13 contributions
Updated 26 October 2018
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