Charming, warm, amazing, cool…just about any positive adjective will do if I have to describe my recent experience in Senegal in one word. Sincerely, it just doesn’t get any better and I have L’Agence sénégalaise pour la promotion Touristique (the Senegalese Agency for Tourism Promotion) and its partners to thank for hosting me to a 7-day familiarization trip of their beautiful country.
From the moment I stepped into the country till I left – albeit reluctantly as I didn’t want the fun to end, it was a chain of wonderful experiences back-to-back and I can’t wait to visit Senegal again.
In case you don’t know, Senegal is the amazing gem of West African Tourism. The country is the last place you’ll see the sunshine, and in its background are rolling waves of the Atlantic Ocean, and an awe-inspiring coastline.
For most Anglophone travellers like me, language barrier is usually a drawback from visiting francophone or non-Anglophone countries. In my case, I was lucky – and I bet anyone visiting Senegal shouldn’t have problems coping in the country as Senegalese are fast learning the English language, and with a few French words, Google Translate and warm smile, you can easily get by in Senegal. Enough of background information let’s get to it.
Travelling to Senegal by road is possible through the ECOWAS road if you are a backpacker and you wish to visit many African countries. But for me, I had a wonderful time getting to Senegal by air. The trip from Lagos to Dakar is less than four hours and with Wi-Fi at the airport, you can easily announce your arrival to your host. In fact, if you know your way around, the taxi drivers at the airport are willing to drop you off at your destination– don’t worry, Senegal is very safe.
In my case, my new friend Monsieur Lamine had arranged to pick me up at the airport so I had no problem from the start.
After the immigration formalities, I stepped out of the airport and the City of Dakar welcomed me to its embrace with “Bienvenue à Dakar.”
The about 45-minute drive from the airport to King Fahd Palace – a five-star exquisite hotel accommodation that’ll be my home for some days, introduced me to Senegal in all its unpretentiousness. Real, rough, rugged, untamed and completely natural, Senegal is a country where the air is still clean, the people friendly, the food sumptuous, and there are hundreds of miles of coastline to see, explore and discover.
Oh! Let me tell you a bit about my accommodation… King Fahd Palace is just the perfect home after hours of trip. Set just in front of the Atlantic, the five-star hotel is a paradise awash in beautiful sunlight and warm eyes. Each minute in the facility was memorable, from the spacious and elegantly artistic and relaxing atmosphere of the room to the sensational, mouth-watering meal, cosy ambience, amazing swimming pool and the great views of the ocean from my room, coupled with the soothing air, you can’t help but fall in love with King Fahd Palace again and again.
When you visit Dakar, make sure you don’t miss the African Renaissance Monument – you’ll need nice pictures of it for memories. The monument is the largest of its kind in West Africa. It symbolizes the dignity of the African continent, demonstrating a family bond of a continent emerging from darkness to the light.
The Museum of Black Civilization is another educative place to visit in Dakar. Learn about the prehistoric era through relics of the time at the “Cradle of Humankind,” exhibition hall, take in the beautiful assemblage of artistic and cultural materials displayed in the “African Civilizations: Continuous Creation of Humanity” exhibition gallery and get amused by the revelations as the guide takes you through history and culture as you move from one chamber to the other.
Gorée Island is a tranquil place that takes you through the dark history of the slave trade. Whatever your biases; I think the Island is well worth a day trip, and you can’t miss the Maison des Esclaves (House of Slaves) when you’re there. A typical tour will take you through the Door of No Return where as many as 15 million enslaved men and women passed through never to see their continent again. You’ll walk through the cramped basement cells, where guides point out shackles on the walls.
Upstairs, is a museum displaying chains for the neck, ankles and feet; various tools used for punishments; and a 17-pound, cast-iron ball that was chained to any slave suspected of daring an escape
And if you’re an adrenaline junky with a thirst for adventure, you definitely want to check out the amazing Pink Lake (lac Rose).
It’s located just outside Dakar and offers loads of adrenaline-pumping activities and an opportunity to come up close with the pink lake and the Senegalese salt industry.
Check out my time in the resort town of Saly tomorrow
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