Senegal is a country in West Africa that got its name from the magnificent river that runs through it. The country boasts a fairly stable government and has shown a lot of growth because of this. Tourists now flock to the country, crowding the beautiful areas.
However, there are still some hidden gems out there where one can soak in the beauty and culture of Senegal without being surrounded by hundreds of other tourists. I’ve not traveled around much of West Africa having spent most of my time in Southern Africa and Eastern Africa but it’s high on my list.
This island is protected under UNESCO. For a long time, it was the largest slave-trading center along the coast of Africa, and while that tragic history can never be forgotten, the country is known for other things as well, like its natural beauty and beaches. Now, you can feel connected to nature and soak in the sun on the beaches. There are restaurants nearby so you can get some lunch and a drink without having to leave the area.
You can even go swimming and surfing on the beach. The surf in the area is said to be legendary on the north end, while the beaches along the bay are calm and great for relaxing, swimming, and chilling out by the beach.
Also known as the Pink Lake, Lake Retba is a location that while not known as one of the natural wonders of the world, many think should be. It is a quick trip from Dakar. As the name suggests, it is a dark pink to red color in the water. The color is due to the algae in the area.
It also has some of the highest salt content in the area, even compared to the oceans. This means that a lot of animals can’t survive in the water. The lake is primarily used as a tourist attraction, though it is a good source of salt for those living in the area.
The best time to visit is during the dry season, when the color is much more prominent and beautiful. Make sure you take a little cash in case you need to get a quick bite.
If you want something indoors, the Loman Art House is well worth a trip. It is located in Dakar and is focused on Loman, who was an artist born in Cape Town, South Africa. The house has several floors and includes features such as the art gallery, garden, Art Cafe, pool, and restaurant. You can even stay the night here and tour the place at your own leisure.
The food changes throughout the week, so you never know what meal you are going to get. Like the whole house, the meals are an experience and are meant to add to your visit. Sometimes, the artist is even still in the area, and you can stop and visit with them while exploring.
Many describe Loman as a kind, caring, and passionate woman that is well worth meeting, no matter if you are passionate about art or not.
If you are passionate about wild flora and fauna, the Lagune de la Somone is worth visiting. Boasting a large sanctuary of migratory birds, there is plenty of wildlife to experience and see.
Whether you want to take a boat trip, ride horses, or travel around on Quads, there are plenty of options for a lagoon tour here. If you want something more hands-on, there is also the option to go on fishing expeditions.
Some of the wildlife and flora you may see include:
- Sea turtles
- Nile monitor
- White-tailed mongoose
- Rhizophora mangle
- Acacia macrostachya
- Adansonia digitata
It isn’t far from Dakar, so if you are in the region, it is worth a visit.
If you want a little different kind of lagoon, the Langue de Barbarie features what seems like an impossible sight. The national park isn’t much more than a peninsula that is entirely sand. Due to a serious flood in 2003, the lagoon changed dramatically, bringing in saltwater and changing the lifestyle of the villagers in the area.
However, despite these changes, it hosts a lot of native wildlife such as turtles and birds. You can still see trees from where they used to be above the water before the shape of the lagoon changed.
If you are a fan of architecture and history, the Faidherbe Bridge is something you have to see. Many places around the world claim to have ties to Gustave Eiffel, but this one truly has been partially built by the man. Gustave Eiffel designed and built the links for the bridge himself.
Due to the high salinity of the water, it has to be constantly updated. It has been fully restored twice since it was built in 1897. It is over 1000 feet (500 meters). Due to its history, it is a UNESCO world heritage site.
This bridge is on the way to Saint Louis, which is also a UNESCO world heritage site. It was originally meant to be for another river before Saint Louis ended up taking it for reasons unknown.
Kedougou is a city in Senegal that is close to both the Guinean forests and the Sahelian plains. It feels starkly different from the rest of Senegal.
The climate and topography alone are vastly different, with a mix of rainforests and hills. It has grown in popularity due to the discovery of gold in the area.
This town wasn’t designed for tourists but has some good amenities and great wildlife areas.
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