Goree Island is one of the nineteen municipalities of Dakar, only two kilometres from the port; it took us about thirty minutes to get there. You can't take your car, as there are no cars on the island. It was discovered by the Portuguese in 1444, and until 1848, when the French abolished slavery, it was the heart of the slave trade here. Today you can see a museum all about slavery, and there's plenty to appeal to tourists, with people selling traditional crafts, including some made from recycled materials like brass or battery parts. There are hotels and restaurants, with rather nice traditional music (especially percussion) that makes quite a treat after dinner. The church here is quite interesting, for all the saints are portrayed as black people. This was where Pope John Paul II apologised to Africa on behalf of the Catholic Church for the slave trade. Declared a World Heritage Site in 1978, it's well worth spending a day here, to enjoy its streets lined with bougainvillea.
This town is actually three towns: it features three artificial islands born of sedimentation of thousands and thousands of living cockle shells, collecting them from the mangroves of the river, (and some tourism, which is beginning to grow because people are taking an interest in the uniqueness of the place). The village itself is actually an island, the only Catholic place in a predominantly Muslim and animist nation. Another is the cemetery island, joined to the town by a wooden bridge. The last island is not yet properly built, as it is a collection of huts in tall silos used as a food storage. The place is only accessible by boat, of course, and it is very easy and cheap to hire a guide. Here are some pictures of this original Senegal corner.
Lake Retba is located about 40 kilometres from Dakar. We arrived after many hours in planes and waiting in airports. It was very hot, and we had been eating at a nearby camp. I could not miss the chance to get in the water up to my knees and test its high salinity. Though I only got wet to the knees, I was surprised by the very high temperature of the water and how irritating the salt was on my skin. Definitely an experience. Local people boat to the centre of the lake (they protect their skin with a special ointment) and then take the salt to sell.
Gore Island holds the horrifying history of the slave trade. This is one of the oldest buildings on the island, where 200 people could be kept in truly terrifying conditions, and chained by shackles. There are dark cells by the sea; this was known as the point of no return for the Senagelese who were taken here. Gore wasn't as important a trading point as others in Africa, but the horrors of the slave trade were still seen, and here you are sure to have a moving experience.
A month-long unforgettable adventure, a journey of those who make history in Senegal, culminating with this image. We walked through the streets of the great city of Dakar, we reached a cliff covered by an imperial tree. Watch a sunset sitting at your feet, its worth it for any traveler who likes to end a trip with a nice sunset.
A nature reserve off the coast of Senegal, very easy to access from Dakar, a couple of hours drive, only 65 kilometers, but it always takes longer when the road is not good and everyone drives as if they were the only ones there. We arrived at the entrance of the park pretty early in the morning, it is best to see the animals because in the heat of the day they prefer to be in a shade and hide from the light. We got into a great vehicle for 10 people, with a driver/guide who knows where the animals, giraffes, birds, baobabs etc are in a protected natural area of 3500 hectares. Some animals are from Senegal, others have been brought from East Africa, which is quite similar to the other coast of Africa. We see antelopes, hippos, giraffes, ostriches, crocodiles ... From Saly and Mbour, the main holiday centres for Europeans, the travel agencies make a group of 10 to rent a car. On leaving, you can relax in a nice restaurant decorated with African crafts.
Boys make their living in that country, to raise a cent they are able to do fancy stuff that you'll see with your own eyes. They dive to the depth of the seabed to look for shells, they are then cleaned and shined. And then sold.
The tip of the Amaldies is the most westerly point of Africa, located near the city of Dakar, in Senegal, on the peninsula of Cape Verde. The archipelago is about 600 km from there, but the peninsula points toward the islands. The "mamelles", two small hills about 100m high, are the highest points in the area and you can climb to the top for a view of the ocean, the beach, a little bit of Dakar, and to see the lighthouse on the western continent. The cliff falls brutally to the sea and is known as the "highway of Almadies", a carpet of rocks in front of the cliff. The beacon sends a message to warn the ships crossing the area to beware, but many are buried there. The fact that the tip is protected, limits buildings etc. The island of Ngor, with beautiful water and nature, is closeby with some luxury hotels such as Le Meridien and Club Med and is a lovely place to stay in the area
Kermel market which dates back to 1860 is one of the most important sites in Dakar. Here there is more than the bustling daily life of the Senegalese, with their purchases and back and forth from one side to another. It is also one of the most visited tourist places. To get there we take Sarraut Avenue to the east. You cannot miss it as it is a colonial-looking building, with bright colours on its facade and is very well preserved. Furthermore there are people moving nonstop. Its outer beauty of the building is amazing, but you have to head inside. It is full of captivating colours, shapes and smells. Here the quality of the product is the best, so that prices are more expensive than elsewhere in the city, although it shows in the quality. There are fruits of all kinds, thoroughly-cleaned fish, well-cut meat, all of which is exposed in a way that says "eat me". There are also more typical and non-typical products. Of course, the presence, with all those different colours calls out to the customer. Here you can see how the daily life is, with women doing the buying, choosing ... like in any market in the world. When the bags are full it's time to go home, but it's always the same story. It really is a must for it says something more about life in Dakar, if only to see how people shop.
A piece of paradise 15 minutes from Dakar. I remember about 30 years ago as a child going on vacation to the coast of Andalusia where you could eat fried fish on the shore and stick your feet in the sand, watching the vendors trying to sell you necklaces of shells or even prickly pears. Anyway, I am sidetracked... if you want a similar experience, Ngor is the place for you.... it also has good, cheap beer!
The Senegal River is a river, 1790 km long. The majority of its route travels through West Africa, and forms a natural border between the West African countries Senegal and Mauritania. It is a major commercial axis, in ancient times and in present times, it has and currently served to carry goods from the interior of Africa to the Atlantic Ocean, and then the Mediterranean. It was cast into the sea at the level of the city of Saint Louis, a former French colonial town, which still has very nice buildings, some old and some preserved, but has his touch, with the Hotel de la Poste, which is in front of an old e plane-era Saint Exupéry, the old school of the republic or the council. Senegal and Mauritania have put their efforts together and created in the 70s a board for protection and conservation of the Senegal River Delta to protect the flora and fauna, which are rich and varied, there are two parks around where you can see many birds in the morning. In the afternoon, it is marvelous to go for a stroll through St. Louis. Here you can gaze out along the riverbanks, observe the typical village life, and enjoy a drink on a terrace while taking in the beautiful sunset.
The Baobab tree is the most typical of Senegal and one of the symbols of the country that appears on official flags and emblems. According to wikipedia, it belongs to the family Andasonia digitata and is also called the bottle tree. Its shape is the most characteristic. They are huge and very irregular, full of knots and gaping holes in their trunks. These holes have multiple legends. One says that here the dead were buried and the hole was covered. Another says that the holes were used as hiding places in times of attack. Several people could fit, it was closed with mud and a little hole was left so the people could breath. The trunk can be more than 40 m in circumference and their average height is about 20 m. Yes, they live an average of 800 years, although there's one that's more than two thousand years old in the country. They are found especially in the interior of the country, where in the rainy season they can be seen in all its splendor, with the green leaves sprouting. It has an edible fruit a bit like melons but tiny. They are worth seeing, especially for the size. You have to stand by the side of one to see how small one can be beside a baobab tree.
Nature provides us with a unique landscape near the pink lake: a small desert of dunes lies before us, and in the blink of an eye we're in the middle of nowhere. Behind is the magical lake, ahead the Atlantic, with its unspoiled beach. And yet we see nothing, in the middle of rolling sand hills on all sides. Walking is, to tell the truth, very uncomfortable, and it's a long way to go. It's best to take a 4x4 service. A few kilometres away from the lake, all the pink disappears, and the roads become increasingly un-passable, with sand everywhere, and almost no vegetation. Stopping on the way makes you feel very small, surrounded by the vastness of the sand. However, this void can sometimes surprise you. As I stood there contemplating, a man came running out of nowhere with a backpack on his back. When he drew close he pulled out a sheet of crafts to sell, just saying, "good, good, cheap, cheap." What an effort to make a sale! The scenery is worth it. A true picture postcard. A swim after the walk through the dunes is a good idea, so don't forget your swimsuit.
A little treasure south of Senegal, an island flanked by the river Casamance and whose nearest city is Elinkine. Around 200-300 people live on the island and although there isn't too much to see (Breton church in ruins, a half sunk pier, former slave prison and the old colonial cemetery) the real magnet for the soul is the atmosphere, friendly treatment and sunsets on a nearly deserted beach. When the tide is low, the sea reveals ancient shipwrecks. Children can have fun without even realising while you stand still and the hours pass peacefully. There was a lot of suffering here, due to the slave trade....Thus, in just a few lines, I have disclosed my treasured memories of this place .. The rest you will have to experience for yourself. Everyday something secret happens, but I can't give it away, you'll have to go and discover it yourself! It leaves locals and tourists speechless!
On the outskirts of the city of Kaolack, this blue mosque stands. Alone in the vast Savannah, I found it unexpected. It's the mosque of the "Medina baye" where Caliph General of the Tidjanes Family "Niassenes" is buried. Kaolack is 200 kilometres from Dakar and is the third largest city of Senegal. It's known as the peanut capital.
Dakar railway station is another one of those landmark buildings that is a must-see in this city. It is located southeast of Dakar, near the harbor and a little north of the Plaza de la Independencia (sorry I don't remember the street name). It is a colonial style building, beautifully maintained, vivid, colorful and has the typical bustle of a railway station. It still keeps that classic touch of stations of yesteryear, with its ancient platforms and very old trains. They go to major cities, such as Saint Louis, or nearby countries. The ticket price isn't too expensive but the comfort and quality are not very secure on these trains. Even though the trains are old this station is worth seeing (I wish I had more photos). You must see the lobby, the color and its platforms - it is as classical and colonial as could be. Take a walk around the building, enjoy its beauty, details and colors. The building is not too big but holds many secrets and the dreams of all those ve begin their journey or ve have just arrived for the first time. It is close to landmarks including Independence Square and Kermel Market, you are obliged to visit.
Believe it or not, this is an ethnic group to escape persecution settled on top of a mountain to continue to maintain their animist traditions. To get there, take a walk of about an hour (from the road), but upon arrival you'll find an ancient culture and a people who seem to live in another time altogether. Go check it out if you can.