Sights in Senegal

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Dakar

The capital of Senegal is a modern city of 1.5 million with beautiful contemporary buildings and some historical colonial houses. It is a vibrant city with active open-air markets, cafe terraces, a wide range of hotels, delicious food and a great night life. You can discover Dakar by taking a walk along the ocean or the busy city streets. Art lovers will find an abundance of galleries, artists' studios, museums, and festivals.

Senegal is a shopper's paradise and exquisite crafts can be found in markets, on the streets, and in stores everywhere in Dakar.

For the sport enthusiast, this city by the beach offer all water sports and golf, tennis, biking, and more.

De Koog

Less than 2 miles from Dakar lies the island of Goree, deeply rooted in the history of the slave trade. From the beginning of the sixteenth to the mid-nineteenth century, men, women, and children were gathered on this small piece of land, locked up in cells before being shipped away to the New World. The island was seized by the Portuguese, the Dutch, the French, and the English who all participated in the trade. Forts and cannons attest of the island's violent past.

Most of the buildings were used as warehouses or slaves'houses. Some have been turned into museums. The most famous is "La Maison des Esclaves" which used to hold up to two hundred captives. Their cells can be visited, as can be the apartment of the slave dealers upstairs. From the "Door of no Return" countless Senegalese caught a last glimpse of their homeland before boarding the slave ships.

Saly

Just one hour and a half south of Dakar lies the domain of Saly: 1,480 acres of trees, lawns, and exotic flowers surrounded by baobabs and fragrant eucalyptus. Twelve hotels are spread along the beach, each with air-conditioning, swimming pools, restaurants, and bars. Discos, a casino, a horse stable, a deep sea fishing center, a biking center and a shopping area are common to the hotels. To reach the golf course, you can walk or avail yourself of a fun ride in a traditional horse-drawn carriage. For windsurf, jet ski, water-ski, snorkeling, scuba diving, the ocean is warm and clear and the air, cooled by gentle sea breezes rarely exceeds the upper 80's. A perfect weather to play tennis, golf, or volleyball on the beach. Deep-sea fishing is one of the best in Senegal and attracts world-class champions. Blue Marlin, Sailfish, and Swordfish are found in abundance and the resort has a top of the line fishing center, L'Espadon Club.

Cayar and the Lugu Lake

In the afternoon, hundreds of fishermen come back from the high sea where they have spent the night. They bring tons of fish, shrimp, and lobsters in their brightly-colored dugout canoes. The beach is alive with buyers, families, and children. It is a colorful spectacle that you should not miss.

On the way to the beach, you will discover one of nature's miracles: a completely pink lake. It is shallow, warm and surrounded by white foam. Everything floats on it, because of its very high salinity. During the week, men and mostly women are busy crushing the bottom of the lake, which consists of a thick crust of salt that they gather to sell. Sand dunes, a baobab forest and traditional villages with thatch-roofed huts surround the Pink Lake also called Retba.

Saint Louis

The former capital of Senegal, looking very much like New Orleans, Saint Louis was built in 1659 on the continent, an island, and a peninsula. It is a city rich in history with narrow streets, wooden balconies and beautiful patios. Saint Louis was the main trading port during the eighteen and nineteen centuries and, like Goree Island was a major slave depot. The city can be visited on foot or in a traditional horse-drawn carriage. Its festivals, cultural life, and its joyous celebrations of holidays have gained a well-deserved reputation. From Saint Louis, exciting trips can be taken down the Senegal River to the traditional and historic towns of Podor, Bakel, and Matam with their distinctive mud architecture.

An hour north lies the extraordinary Djoudj National Park, an oasis of freshness and tranquility that is home to 3 million birds during winter. In the south is the Langue de Barbarie National Park, a refuge for birds and sea turtles, which gather here to breed.

Basse casamance

In contrast with the rest of the country, Casamance offers a landscape of lush forests, rice paddies, mangrove, and huge kapok trees. Its beaches are considered the best in West Africa. The exceptional amount of sunshine, the warm sea, and the group of wonderful hotels scattered along miles of fine sandy beaches make this region a paradise for a relaxing vacation.

Casamance is home to very traditional peoples who jealously protect their identity. Some villages offer traditional accommodations and activities for the tourists in an ecotourism program that let the villagers use the income generated for development projects.

Eastern Senegal

One of the best-kept secrets of the country. There, far from the tourist areas, you will enjoy the traditional African life of the little villages. The Bedik, Bassari, and Tenda people of the Kedougou area proudly retain their customs, costumes, and ornaments. Their villages are perched on top of green hills, near waterfalls, in the middle of breathtaking landscapes.

Niokolo Koba, the largest of Senegal's National Parks is located in the heart of the region on more than 2 million acres. Lions, elephants, antelope, monkeys, crocodiles, hippopotami, and 300 species of birds live there perfectly protected. Big game hunting is permitted outside of the park.

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