5 great things to do in Senegal

Senegal is a French-speaking West-African country with the Atlantic Ocean lapping at its shores.  It is a popular holiday destination for Europeans and Dakar, its capital, is a pretty city dotted with little cafes, bistros and boulangeries that give it a European feel.  Whether you decide to stay in Dakar or not during your holiday, here are a few fun things to do when in Senegal.


Goree Island 

 1.  Go see Goree Island

Goree Island is a little island off the coast of Senegal.  It is only a 20-minute or so ferry-ride from Dakar and some people live in Dakar and work on the Island and vice-versa.  Goree Island is famous because it was once a slave port and The Slave House (Maison des Esclaves) from which slaves were taken away is still there and is one of the main attractions on the island.  Also on the Island is a museum where you can see artefacts and writings that detail the history of Goree Island and of Senegal itself.  Apart from those tourist attractions, you can buy little trinkets on the island or have a meal at one of the many local restaurants by the beach after a dip in the sea.  Goree Island may be famous for its tourist attractions but with its calm, pretty beach and little restaurants, it really is a perfect place to go on a day out with friends or family.


The Pink Lake in Senegal

  1. You’ll find something to float your boat at The Pink Lake

The Pink Lake, located a few hours’ drive from Dakar, gets its name from the colour of the water and its colour from the special bacteria and high salt content present in the water.  The lake’s colour changes from pink to purple depending on the salt-content at that particular time and the effect of the sun’s rays.  The lake acts a source of livelihood to many people who go there to collect the salt from the sea.  At the lake, you can see huge piles of salt that have been ‘harvested’ and are waiting to be sold.  Thanks to the high salt content of the lake, you can float in the lake but remember to rinse off when you get out as the salt can be really drying on the skin.  There are also little shops to buy knick-knacks and a small restaurant where you can have a meal while enjoying the view of the pretty lake.


  1. Seek out sensational fabrics at Sandaga market

Sandaga market located in Dakar is known for the sale of fabrics.  Senegal itself is famous for its famous Senegalese outfits for both men and women and Sandaga is the ideal place to not only buy fabrics but to have them made into the traditional outfits you want.  You can buy other things at Sandaga though from electronics to baby clothes and shoes.  The market is a riot of people, noise and colour and you should be prepared to negotiate prices.  Another great place to get fabrics in Senegal is in Touba, a small town outside Dakar.  Like many other African markets, Sandaga can be a bit of a shock but if you go with the idea of having a great experience of an African market, you will have a good time.  That good time will be even more likely if you understand basic French.  Senegal is a French-speaking country after all.

 The Beach at Saly in Senegal

4.  Push out the boat on the beach

Senegal is famous for its beaches and though there are beaches in Dakar, the country’s capital, many people go to small towns outside the capital like Saly when they want to spend a day at the beach.  At some of the sea-side resorts outside Dakar, you can try out water-sports or go out on sail boats and when all that activity gets too much for you, you can just chill by the beach and watch the beautiful people as they go about their day.


 Chicken yassa and white rice

  1. Fill up on Senegalese Food

Senegal is home (or maybe, kitchen?) to delicious West-African food.  Although jollof rice (the ever-present dish at Nigerian owambes) is said to have originated in Senegal, other dishes which are popular in Senegal are couscous (made from semolina and tastes vaguely like white rice) and yassa (a kind of sauce made from onion slices and usually eaten with rice).


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