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SENEGAL - Reserve your special air fare tickets
Dakar is the capital city of Senegal, located on the Cap-Vert Peninsula, on the country's Atlantic coast. It is Senegal's largest city. Its position, on the western edge of Africa (it is the westernmost city on the African mainland), is an advantageous departure point for trans-Atlantic and European trade; this fact aided its growth into a major regional port. Dakar is a major administrative centre, home to the National Assembly of Senegal and Senegal's President's Palace.
Riding strong on a 60-year wave of population growth, Dakar, the capital of Senegal, is one of West Africa’s largest cities. Its metropolitan area is home to more than 2.4 million people. Although a lack of infrastructure in some areas is a symptom of the city's growing pains, Dakar is also home to a fantastic music and arts scene, charming neighborhoods, and wonderful beaches and nightlife. French influence lingers in the city's infatuation with patisseries and the arts, but Dakar also has a vibrant culture all its own, and is a must-visit for anyone who wants to truly understand West Africa.
When to Go : We recommend visiting Senegal during its dry season, between December and April. Timing your visit this way is not as important if you plan on staying within Dakar, but this dry, pleasant time of year is still preferable to the heavy rains and humidity between June and October.
Goree Island : The experience at Goree is almost beyond words, as you approach the slave house and look at and throught the "door of no return", where the enslaved were kept and forced on boats to make the trip during the transatlantic slave trade. the tour of the slave house by an english speaking guide was informative and thorough. a guide is very helpful in understanding the mechanics of this holding place. there's more to see on the island and a walking tour of the island with a guide, was fun and educational. merchants have a variety of merchandise at great prices. the ferry ride provides a great view to Goree, though in my head, i visited with old news stories about overloaded ferries sinking with no survivors. it was that kind of party.
The city of saint louis : If you have time to visit only one other location while in the Dakar area, I highly recommend a drive to Saint Louis. It takes between three and a half and four hours to get there, but the road between Dakar and Saint Louis is newly-paved and fairly easy to navigate, although keep in mind that there is little besides small villages between the two cities. It is possible to ride in a public transport bus, but I would recommend getting a seat in a 7-person taxi (you can catch one at the gare routière in downtown dakar and also in downtown Saint Louis), which costs about US$5 each way. If you have a chance to stop along the way, there are fantastic forests of enchanting baobab trees (they are surreal looking, like someone has planted them upside down, rootside up) and trees that fan out at the top creating an umbrella effect. you will also see loads of herds of emus and goats and sheep, as well as many roadside merchants selling wares such as baskets, pottery and local fruits and vegetables.
Marches kermel, sandaga, sounbedioune : some of the most colorful and texturized moments i spent in dakar were in the local markets, where you can find everything from local crafts such as wood carvings, handmade drums, clothing in all the brightly-colored fabric you can imagine, handmade furniture, to fresh fish, fruits (in fact, you can buy oranges that are freshly peeled and coconuts that are cut before your eyes, first to enable you to drink the milk and then again to allow you to get to the fruit), and roots that are purchased in bulk which the senegalese use to clean their teeth by chewing on them (and their teeth are fantastically white!). if you're in a taxi or a car, every stop and traffic jam can feel like a market visit, with vendors stopping at the car windows offering you household items and food and collectibles. the markets are also filled with such smells and feels that they cannot be described--they must be experienced!