Favorite thing: Founded in 1659, Saint-Louis was the first French settlement in Africa. It was established on an island near the mouth of the Senegal River, strategically located between the mainland and the Langue de Barbarie Peninsula.
By about 1790, Saint-Louis had become a busy port and trading center, and was one of the most important cities in French West Africa. Its importance was recognized in the early nineteenth century when the city became the capital of all of French West Africa, and remained so until 1902 when the capital was moved to Dakar. At that time, Saint-Louis remained the capital of Senegal and Mauritania, but in 1958 Dakar became the capital of those provinces as well.
Nowadays, Saint-Louis is known for its fine colonial architecture, which was preserved by a lack of development after the city lost its role as the capital of the French colonies in Africa. UNESCO declared Saint-Louis a World Heritage Site, and this has resulted in rapid renovation of the colonial buildings.
Saint-Louis is also well-known to jazz afficionados, as it is the home of the Saint-Louis International Jazz Festival. This festival, which is held during the second weekend of May, attracts jazz performers and fans from around the world.
Kidira, border town, going to Mali
Favorite thing: We travelled from Senegal to Mali overland, taking the road from Tambcounda to Kayes. This is also the road when you travel from Dakar to Bamako.
In Kidira, the Senegalese bordertown, you have first to get a stamp at the policepost, before you can cross the borderriver. This police post is not at the border, but somewhere else in town. There are people around who can show you the way.
You don't need a visa for Mali in advance, but can buy it at the border. That means you get a stamp in your passport and have to register within 48 hours in Bamako, the capital. First we had to pay 100 euro for each stamp. Finally we paid 25 euro. First they needed a ID-picture of all of us. When they ran out of forms, they gave some of the pictures back.
All together all the formalities at the Senegalese and Malinese side of the border took us almost 4 hours.Related to:
- Road Trip
Favorite thing: There is nothing about Kaolack that I would recommend to travelers. It is one of the most polluted and filthiest cities I have ever been in. Located on the Saloum River in west-central Senegal, the city is the center of Senegal's peanut industry.
To enter the city from the south, which is what I did, it is necessary to cross a causeway over the Saloum River. It is along this causeway that the city dump is located. The garbage seems to be perpetually burning, and acrid smoke fills the air, making it like a scene out of Hell. And people actually make a living in the dump, living in tin shacks and sorting through the garbage to find anything of value that can be resold or reused. The city center itself is filthy and strewn with garbage and animal droppings. This is not a good first impression to have of a city.
Despite Kaolack's lack of attractions for visitors, its central location makes it a stop-over point for travelers passing from northern Senegal to Gambia, or other parts of Africa to the south or east. Therefore, there are some adequate hotels in the city that cater to tourists, but most travelers in Kaolack are just passing through to more interesting and better places beyond.
Favorite thing: In Tambacounda we saw several signs of internetcafes like this one. It was peculiar, when we entered this building we found out there was no internetcafe at all. Luckily there we enough others in the same street. The connection was rather good. I could open all my mail, which was not always possible in other African towns.
The only problem was there was a long waiting time, because all the computers were occupied by the youngsters of the town. Internet is becoming very popular in every African country, especially with the young people. Almost every boy or girl I met, who liked to exchange addresses has an e-mail account, mostly yahoo.
Velingara, border town, coming from Gambia
Favorite thing: When we visited the Niokolo Koba Park in the south-east of Senegal, we crossed the border between Basse Santa Su in the south-east of the Gambia and Velingara in Senegal.
The 25 KM long road between Basse and Velingara is unpaved, dusty and bumpy. The Badiara Senegalese borderpost between those two towns in the middle of nowhere is told to be the most friendliest borderpost entering Senegal.
We arrived in Velingara in the late afternoon without CFA, The petrol station didn't take euros and the banks were closed. So it took some time before we had CFAs , could refuel and continue our route in the direction of Tambacounda.Related to:
- Road Trip
Favorite thing: Touba is a small city in west-central Senegal which is one of the most popular pilgrimage sites in the Islamic world. Because Touba is an Islamic holy city, alchohol and tobacco are forbidden throughout the city at all times. Touba's holiness arises from the fact that it was the hometown of Amadou Bamba, the founder of the Mouride Islamic Brotherhood.
Amadou Bamba was born in 1850 and became an Islamic evangelist. By 1887 he had acquired a large following and had established the Mouride Islamic Brotherhood. This brotherhood emphasized hard physical labor as a pathway to spiritual salvation. (Bamba was a wealthy landowner, and many of his followers were "persuaded" to engage in hard physical labor on his plantations). Bamba's anti-French rhetoric and the power he enjoyed from his large following led to his being exiled by the colonial government. He returned to Senegal in 1907 after 20 years. After he died, he was buried in the city's huge mosque.
A mass pilgrimage called the Grand Magal takes place once a year, 48 days after the Islamic new year. It celebrates Amadou Bamba's return from exile, and attracts over 500,000 pilgrims from Senegal and Gambia.
Favorite thing: Richard Toll is a small town located on the Senegal River in northern Senegal. The river forms the border between Senegal and Mauritania, and it is possible to look across the river into Mauritania. The town is the center of Senegal's sugar industry, and is surrounded by fields of sugar cane. There is not a lot to see or do in Richard Toll, but I stayed there because it is a good base for birdwatching in the nearby Sahel.
Richard Toll was founded in the 1830s when Baron Jacques Roger, then-governor of Senegal, constructed a château on the banks of the Taouey River, a tributary of the Senegal River. The ornamental gardens surrounding the château were laid out by Claude Richard. The town that grew up around the château was eventually called Richard Toll, which means "Richard's Garden."
Eating and drinking in Senegal
Favorite thing: Senegal has some of West Africa's best food, giving opportunities for everything from serious food to dining on the street. Restaurants in the larger towns and main hotels incline towards French style, offereing a menu and a "plat du jour".
There's lots of tough steak and chips, heavy sauces and imported canned food. For a menu expect to pay CFA4500-6000, and upward od CFA3500 for the "plat". Thera re some french restaurants and many typical Senegalese ones.
Fondest memory: Info taken from Lonely Planet book on West Africa
Health in Senegal
Favorite thing: Senegal is one of the most confortable countries in West Africa and you will not feel like you'll be under attack by any serious virus at every second.
Senegal it's mostly dry and seasonally mild and its health care system is not very bad if you need somthing, big cities will surely help you out decently.
Treatments and vaccines you may have to take before you go to West Africa and diseases you can find:
Malaria treatment (prophylaxis)
Trypanosomiasis or "sleeping sickness"
Fondest memory: Info taken from Lonely Planet book on West Africa
People in Senegal
Favorite thing: Senegal is a multi-ethnic country. Wolof is the dominating ethnic group in Senegal and the officl language of the country is also Wolof.
Fondest memory: The first muslims in the country were called Tukulor who are closely related to Fula. There are also another ethnic group in Senegal called mandinka which were converte to Islam before Wolof people did. In the Southwest of the country you will find the Serer people and the Jola people which rsisted Islam until the last century. In Casamance regio nyou have ethnic groups like Diola, Bassari, Bainuk, Konyagi and Jolenke.
Senegal's national dish
Favorite thing: I didn't had the chance myself to visit Senegal in Africa, so I visited Senegal in my favorite city Antwerp. I was invited to share the meal with my new Senegalese friends.
It was delicious! and that is an understatement.
I have to ask for the exact name but here is the picture!
Favorite thing: There's a LOT of waiting, waiting and more waiting in this part of the world...specially when dealing with any type of public transport. I have quite a few of these pictures taken at various bus stops through out Dakar.
When to visit
Favorite thing: If you decide to visit during the dry season, that is from November to February, the temperatures remains rather fresh, both air and water!
Between March and May, the climate remains dry, but the temperatures go up, especially in the interior of the country.
The raining season which is from June to October, is nice, because it is great for the vegetation, but it can cause some problems with the transportation in certain regions! The rain only last a few hours per day in general.
Haunting part of our history
Favorite thing: Goree Island. This is close to being a must visit. To see the Slave House and Door of No Return. Seeing the rest of the Island is good also.
Fondest memory: My fondest memeory of Senegal is the people and their characteristics. They "make" themselves your freind.Related to:
- Adventure Travel
Favorite thing: People in Senegal are very friendly. When meeting locals, it is important to know a little about the rules. In Senegal it is a habit to always say hello, even if you don't know the people! The greeting "Salam aleikum" (reply "Aleikum Salam") is a good form. Do ask about the family, even if you do not know them. The end of this kind of conversation is "Alhamdoulilahi".
Boulevard Martin Luther King, Dakar, 1179, Senegal
Good for: Families
Avenue de la mer, Plage des cocotiers - BP 1524, Mbour, BP 1524, Senegal
Good for: Couples
The Auberge de la Paix has simple 2 bed room from 6000 CFA (2011) and a good restaurant at the sea,...more
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