Senegal is one of the most underrated places you could ever visit. I have always been intrigued by Francophone countries. When I was twenty years old, I remember just finishing my degree and applying to work as a teaching assistant in Senegal with the British Council and putting Senegal as my first place. There were only four spaces on the programme and unfortunately, I never made it! I was placed on the programme to go to Chile instead!
Timing is everything, as I found myself there ten years later. Soaking up the sounds of Mbalax and practising Sabar dancing on the beach.
So here are my twelve reasons to visit Senegal;
1. Flights are relative cheap from the U.K. We managed to bag flights for £365 for the Easter Break which is quite cheap. Even cheaper would be to fly to Gambia for around £200 and cross the border.
2. Senegalese food is probably the most fragrant food you will find. From yassa poulet /yassa poisson ( chicken or fish served in an onion sauce with carrots and turnip).
3. Mbalax music is the local music you’ll hear at live music venues across Senegal. It is authentic, harmonious and nothing like you’ve heard before.
Our favourite whilst we there was Youssou N’Dour’s ( C’est l’amour). Please see link below of this lovely song. Do have a listen!
You can also do some dance classes on the beach which is something we took advantage of. We paid around £20 for a full band to teach us for two hours on the beach.
Trying to do some of that Sabar on the beach
4. The Pink Lake. This place is divine! About an hour from Dakar, you can just rest in the salty lake and float! Some amazing sand dunes are also nearby which are even better. You can rent some quadbikes too whilst you’re there.
5. Baye Fall. As someone who is intrigued by sense of community, faith and fraternity in different countries. It was lovely to see the Baye Fall men walking around and helping in their communities. We got talking to a few who were really cool and very charitable.
They often come together to raise money for young people and children within their neighbourhoods. Baye Fall is a brotherhood with roots which lie in Islam.
6. Great nightlife. Our first night in Dakar, we found ourselves in a bar called Blue Saxo which had amazing live music. Also, just so you know, it is best to leave the house around 1am to party. Don’t make the same mistake we did by leaving before midnight!
7. Dakar is reasonably cheap. We did struggle to find hostels and spent a lot of time in hotels and Air BnBs. However, it was still fairly reasonable.
8. You get to practise your French. I seem to find African French a lot easier than what most would say is authentic French from France. However, Wolof is mostly spoken and sometimes you may find yourself in a taxi and the driver will have no knowledge of English or French!
9. A day trip to Goree Island. The Slave House was very disturbing. But the island itself is tranquil and it is definitely worth a visit.
10. You can find some lovely beaches! Head down south to Saly. It is absolutely gorgeous with amazing beaches. Nothing but pure relaxation.
11. Concerts are really cheap. Easter and Christmas tend to be a good time to visit Africa. There are many eventful things happening.
We managed to catch a WizKid Concert which we hadn’t really planned to go to. We got tickets for around £10 and it was outside, so the vibes were amazing.
12. Take a trip to Saint Louis, or Ndar as it is called in Wolof which is takes around five hours to get to from Dakar. Mostly known for its colonial architecture. It’s a great place to spend a couple of days.
If you want to visit somewhere new this year. Definitely think about coming to Senegal!