In Western Africa, between the fresh breezes of the Atlantic and the dry heat of the Sahara, is one of the continent's most versatile and exciting countries: Senegal. A relatively small country that has a little bit of everything: great beaches, desert, jungle, cultural hotspots and charming fishing villages, among many other things.
Now is the time to travel to Senegal. For it will not be long before this country no longer is an undiscovered gem - tourists might soon flood this interesting country. Senegal is a relatively small west African country, but with all sorts of natural attractions: beaches, jungle, desert, mangroves, river deltas, diverse wildlife, and so much more. And don't forget the cultural opportunities that Senegal offers - exciting markets, festivals, vibrant nightlife, interesting architecture and plenty of great sea food restaurants. All in the heart of Africa.
Dakar is where many explorers begin their journey around Senegal and possibly other countries in this part of Africa. It is Senegal's capital, and an obvious focal point in relation to travel from Europe, for example from Paris or Madrid.
Dakar is a terrific place, a city full of life, music, street trading, chaotic traffic and exciting people. Here you will find some of West Africa's best festivals in both music and movies and also some of the best nightclubs and venues. You will not be bored in Dakar, and things are rarely quiet here - the infectious music and noisy market life is almost constantly present, and will make you feel closer to the African soul.
Well, who would have guessed that Senegal has its own Saint-Louis? Doesn’t this name alone just smell of jazz, history, Creole charm and colonial architecture? And yes this is exactly what Senegal's Saint-Louis is all about. This picturesque town lies 320 km north of Dakar, by the Senegal river and right by the inviting waves of the Atlantic Ocean. Saint-Louis was the first French settlement under the colonization of West Africa, and the city was founded in 1659. Here you can enjoy the impressive buildings from the French colonial times, be charmed by the old-fashioned atmosphere with horse-drawn carriages and enjoy the annual jazz festival, which usually takes place in late May.
As you can see, Saint-Louis in Senegal is made up out of a lot of the same stuff as other Atlantic Creole cities like New Orleans, Havana in Cuba and Salvador do Bahia, Brazil. It is also one of Senegal's most visited cities, not least thanks to the historic part of town, located on an island in the Senegal River, and for obvious reasons, is placed on UNESCO's World Heritage List.
It is recommended to continue the journey in Senegal further north, up near the border to Mauritania, where you will find the huge national park Parc National des Oiseaux du Djoudj, which is also on UNESCO's World Heritage List. Here one should not miss a boat trip on the rivers in a pirogue, the local boats, from which you can enjoy the prospect of a sky full of exotic bird life: flamingos, pelicans, herons and many more exciting species. The park is one of the world's most important wetlands and one of the main sanctuaries for birds. A clear must when travelling to Senegal.
Just south of Saint-Louis one will find another impressive national park, Parque Nacional de la Langue Barberie, which certainly is worth a visit.
There are from time to time conflict between the goverment and rebels in the Casamance region in southern Senegal (south of Gambia, which cuts through Senegal), so you should always consult the Foreign Ministry before departure. Otherwise, Casamance offers a true wealth of river deltas, wetlands and lush woodlands - spiced up with some of the best sandy beaches and the villages Kafountine and Abéné, very popular for backpackers.
The beaches are a big attraction and the main reason why many even travel to Senegal. Blue waters, and seaside resorts for every taste - both expensive resorts and simple villages with spartan accommodations. And the beaches? It’s hard to find them better in this part of the world - maybe even in general.
Also try Ile de Gorée, which offers total tranquility and relaxation. There are no roads or cars, but lots of narrow alleys adorned with impressive beautiful bougainvillea, colonial houses and an almost meditative calm. So why wait? Travel to Senegal now!
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