Located at the most westerly part of mainland Africa, Senegal’s colours, sounds, tastes, culture, scenery and general environment creates a rich and vibrant tapestry, appealing to the modern traveller.
For those wanting to add a little of the exotic to a simple beach holiday, Senegal has a stunning sandy coastline with year-round sunshine, just 6-hrs flight away. But journey beyond to see the wealth of experiences that await the more adventurous traveller.
“Sensational Senegal” which might at first appear to be a simple case of alliteration, in reality refers to the fact that the destination provides an amazing sensory experience for the traveller to enjoy. Amongst many other examples, it’s the the vibrant sounds of music, the eye-opening sights of pink lakes and photogenic tribes, the familiar smells of incense and spices, the ancient feel of stone structures and the mouth-watering taste of tasty local cuisine, Senegal has so many unique sensual experiences to discover…
Whilst there is something facsinating to see at every turn, we’ve picked out just a few sights to share with you. Lake Retba is a mile long body of water glowing with a strange tint of pink and sometimes orange. This rare phenomenon is caused by a unique combination of micro-organisms and a high concentration of salt. Villagers harvest the salt to sell, so visiting here is a great opportunity to interact with the hard working women of Senegal. Visitors are also able to seek the curative properties with a soak in the West African version of the Dead Sea.
Touba is a sacred Muslim town in northern Senegal, providing a dazzling opportunity to see the rich culture of Islam in the region. An undoubted highlight is the Grand Mosque (or Magal), whose striking architecture dominates the Touba skyline.
The Ferlo desert is home to the Fulani people, who live across the West African savannah. Hugely photogenic and charismatic, this semi-nomadic tribe has a unique culture based around their livestock. Their festivals and celebrations are truly eye-catching.
The hussle and bussle of the countless markets fill the air with the sounds of local Sengalese buying and selling their wares. Whilst they will be using their own local languages, Senegal’s official language is French, adding an extra twist of sophistication for the traveller. Maybe this explains why few British tourists have visited senegal up until now.
Like all of West Africa, the rhythm of life closely follows the beat of music, even in everyday life. You’ll never be far from authentic local musicians, which encourages plenty of song and dance. Or what about the sounds of the wildlife in Bandia Game Reserve? In recent years there have been successful reintroductions of numerous native species. In the reserve you’re now able to see (and hear) buffalo, antelope, monkeys, white rhinos, giraffes, zebras, ostriches, crocodiles and even chimpanzees. It is also a great location for bird enthusiasts.
Senegal is alive with the smells of everyday life, from the pungency of the local fishing boats and villages along the shoreline, to the exotic smelling spices on sale in every marketplace.
Walk through any village and you’ll notice incense is widely used in homes, whilst you will also catch the enticing aromas as local Senegalese women prepare their evening meals, using a mix of meats, fish, vegetables and spices.
57% of Senegal relies on subsistence farming, so major initiatives are underway (eg. biogas) to help locals counter the poor quality of farmland in parts of the country.
Whether it be silver blue tilapia fresh from the ocean or ceebu jën (a paella-like local favourite, containing fish, vegetables and rice), you will find an abundance of authentic West African cuisine on offer. Senegal’s hoteliers are keen to allow you to try local delicacies and these are often options on their menus.
But to experience truly authentic local food, there’s nowhere like street markets where local cooks will serve up regional favourites.
In Senegal, eating can be an important communal event, with a large central bowl shared amongst many, with the bare hands used to capture a mouthful of flavour. Whilst it might feel a bit awkward at first, you soon recognise how this style of eating adds to the culinary experience.
Sine Ngayene has over a thousand carved stones arranged into fifty two circles, dating back to between 700 and 1350 AD. Recognised by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site, they are similar to those found at Wassu in The Gambia.
The construction of the stone monuments – used as burial grounds and for other ceremonial events, shows evidence of a prosperous and organised society.
Whilst there are many myths about the age of some trees in Africa – some rumoured to be over 6,000 years old, there’s no arguing that some of Senegal’s amazing boabobs are incredibly large and very old indeed. Join us on our journey of discover and expereince Senegal for yourself.