Senegal

Sitting at the continent’s western-most tip, Senegal also marks the fusion point of Africa’s Arabic north, with the diverse and colourful cultures of the region’s southern gulf. Hemmed in by the ever-encroaching sands of the Sahel, the waves of the Atlantic and the dense jungle of the Casamance, Senegal often seems to work a beat and rhythm all on its own. Emphatically Muslim, yet exuding French undertones, it evokes both the best in colonial-era architecture and the worst vestiges of the slave trade. It’s a nation of novelty, where the melodies of home-grown international music maestros are played alongside the latest local hip-hop sensations, and first-rate baguettes are hawked from the back of horse-drawn carts.

Senegal Tours & Travel

All our Senegal trips

Boats in Dakar, Senegal

Dakar to Freetown

23 days from
USD $2,618.00*
CAD $2,699.34*
AUD $2,565.84*
EUR €1,999.51*
GBP £1,655.99*
NZD $3,282.65*
ZAR R25,179.87*
CHF FR2,369.59*

Discover the best of West Africa on this journey through Senegal, Guinea and Sierra Leone. Visit beautiful beaches,...

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Boat in Dakar, Senegal

Freetown to Dakar

23 days from
USD $2,618.00*
CAD $2,699.34*
AUD $2,565.84*
EUR €1,999.51*
GBP £1,655.99*
NZD $3,282.65*
ZAR R25,179.87*
CHF FR2,369.59*

Join a journey across West Africa and discover the stunning beaches, densely jungled highlands and intriguing cultural...

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Friendly children of the Ashanti region, Ghana

Senegal to Ghana

50 days from
USD $7,565.00*
CAD $8,078.39*
AUD $7,678.48*
EUR €5,764.17*
GBP £5,006.00*
NZD $9,739.05*
ZAR R76,901.97*
CHF FR7,088.50*

Travel from Dakar to Ghana on a road trip across this unspoilt and fascinating region of Africa, discovering the...

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Palm trees under blue skies, Benin

West Africa Overland

70 days from
USD $7,305.00*
CAD $7,439.60*
AUD $7,166.23*
EUR €5,575.47*
GBP £4,627.25*
NZD $9,167.53*
ZAR R70,355.32*
CHF FR6,628.35*

Travel from Dakar to Ghana on a road trip across this unspoilt and fascinating region of Africa, discovering the...

View trip details

About Senegal

At a glance

Trips Available: 4
Capital city: Dakar (population 2.7 million)
Population: 13.3 million
Language: French, Wolof
Currency: XOF
Time zone: (GMT) Casablanca
Electricity: Type C (European 2-pin) Type D (Old British 3-pin)
Dialing code: +221

Best time to visit Senegal

With an average coastal temperature of 27 degrees Celsius, Senegal’s dry season - running from November to March - is the best time to visit. Things get hotter and dustier the further inland one ventures, due to the harmattan winds that blow in from the Sahara. From June to October is the rainy season, when temperatures rise above 30 and intermittent downpours (though usually lasting no more than a few hours and falling mainly at night) make for some extreme humidity. Although this is the time when the country is at its most green and beautiful, some national parks do close or become inaccessible.

Senegal weather chart

Geography and environment

Save for the south-east’s Fouta Djallon foothills and the Bambouk Mountains on the Malian border, little of Senegal rises more than 100m above sea level. The north of the country consists mostly of sparsely vegetated savannah woodland and coastal dunes, while south of The Gambia the land turns to dense jungle, winding river systems and mangrove estuaries.

Top Picks

Top 5 Senegal Festivals

1. St. Louis Jazz Festival

Every May, internationally-renowned jazz legends and emerging artists arrive on mass for a weekend of thumping good times in what's arguably Senegal’s most charming town. Started in 1993, the festival is the biggest jazz celebration on the continent and has played host to the likes of Herbie Hancock, Randy Weston and Joe Zainul.

2. Gorée Diaspora Festival

Created with the ambition of promoting links between Senegal and the descendants of slaves exported from Gorée Island, this eclectic festival features traditional and modern musical concerts, conferences and debates, art and craft exhibitions, dance performances and the odd traditional wrestling bout thrown in for good measure.

3. Kaay Fecc

This lively Dakar dance festival, held between late May and early June every two years, is a vivacious celebration of African choreographic expression, entertainment and education. Aiming at the sustainable propagation of dance throughout the continent, the event attracts dance enthusiasts from around the globe keen to partake in the smorgasbord of workshops, performances and dance classes on offer.

4. Abéné Festivalo

Held annually over the New Year period in the Casamance community of Abéné, this 10-day drumming festival celebrates Casamance culture primarily through djembe and percussion performances, but also features nightly dance recitals and traditional Senegalese wrestling displays.

5. Dak’Art Biennale

The cleverly named Dak’Art Biennale has served as a platform for promoting contemporary art with African cultural roots since 1992. Held every even-numbered year in May, the festival showcases works by established and emerging African artists in galleries and venues across the capital.

FAQs on Senegal

Tipping is only expected from well-heeled locals and foreigners. At established restaurants a 10 to 15 per cent service charge is usually included in the bill; where it’s not, 10 per cent is the acceptable gratuity. Although tipping at other eateries isn't mandatory, a rounding up of the bill will be much appreciated given the low wages that Senegalese workers are typically paid. Setting aside a small amount for porters, guides and drivers is also a good idea.
Internet cafes, with relatively fast and reliable connections, can easily be found in Senegal’s cities and major towns.
Mobile phone coverage is good in Senegal’s large cities and towns, but less so in rural areas. The major local telephone companies are Alize, Sentel, Orange and Tigo. Ensure that you have global roaming activated before leaving home if you plan to use your mobile phone.
Squat/pit toilets are generally the standard in Senegal, although western-style flushable toilets are often found in large hotels and other modern buildings. Carry your own supply of soap and toilet paper because this is rarely provided.
Sandwich = 1000 CFA
Litre of bottled water = 700 CFA
Shwarma = 1500-5000 CFA
Bottle of beer in a local bar = 500-1000 CFA
Tap water isn't safe to drink in Senegal. For environmental reasons, try to avoid buying bottled water. Instead, bring water purification tablets or ask your leader where filtered water can be found.
Credit cards are generally only accepted at top-end hotels, some restaurants and a few shops. American Express is the most widely accepted, followed by Visa, Diners Club and Mastercard.
Banks with ATMs are found in all cities and large towns across the country, but are rarer in small towns, rural areas and villages. Not all ATMs will accept foreign cards or be in working order, so be sure to have other payment methods available when venturing out of the cities.
Absolutely. All passengers travelling with Intrepid are required to purchase travel insurance before the start of their trip. Your travel insurance details will be recorded by your leader on the first day of the trip. Due to the varying nature, availability and cost of health care around the world, travel insurance is very much an essential and necessary part of every journey.

For more information on insurance, please go to: Travel Insurance
Jan 1 New Year's Day
Jan 24 Milad un Nabi (Birth of the Prophet Muhammad)
Apr 1 Easter Monday
Apr 4 Independence Day
May 1 Labour Day
May 9 Ascension Day
May 20 Whit Monday
Aug 8 Korité (End of Ramadan)
Aug 15 Assumption
Oct 15 Tabaski (Feast of Sacrifice)
Nov 1 All Saints' Day
Nov 4 Islamic New Year
Nov 13 Tamkharit (Ashura)
Dec 25 Christmas Day

Please note these dates are for 2013. For a current list of public holidays go to: http://www.worldtravelguide.net/senegal/public-holidays
SENEGAL:
Australia: Yes - In advance
Belgium: Yes - In advance
Canada: Yes - In advance
Germany: Yes - In advance
Ireland: Yes - In advance
Netherlands: Yes - In advance
New Zealand: Yes - In advance
South Africa: Yes - in advance
Switzerland: Yes - In advance
UK: Yes - In advance
USA: Yes - In advance

All passport holders travelling to Senegal now need a visa to enter the country, effective July 1st 2013. All applicants are required to first apply online for a bio-metric visa by visiting http://www.snedai.sn/en/

You must obtain a double entry visa and this should be obtained prior to your arrival and you may require a guarantee letter / hotel confirmation letter from Dragoman as part of your visa application.

Australia and New Zealanders should use the Senegalese embassy in Malaysia as their closest option. For other nationalities the embassy in the UK may be the most convenient and you may require a guarantee letter from Dragoman as part of your visa application.

Starting your trip in Dakar
It may be possible to obtain your visa on arrival at Dakar Leopold Sedar Senghor International Airport, but you
must have obtained prior approval BEFORE YOUR FLIGHT (please do this well in advance) using the
website http://www.snedai.sn/en/

Health and Safety

Intrepid takes the health and safety of its travellers seriously, and takes every measure to ensure that trips are safe, fun and enjoyable for everyone. We recommend that all travellers check with their government or national travel advisory organisation for the latest information before departure:

From Australia?

Go to: http://www.smartraveller.gov.au/

From New Zealand?

Go to: http://www.safetravel.govt.nz/

From Canada?

Go to: http://www.voyage.gc.ca/

From US?

Go to: http://travel.state.gov/

From UK?

Go to: http://www.fco.gov.uk/en/

The World Health Organisation

also provides useful health information:
Go to: http://www.who.int/en/

Responsible Travel

Senegal Travel Tips

Intrepid is committed to travelling in a way that is respectful of local people, their culture, local economies and the environment. It's important to remember that what may be acceptable behaviour, dress and language in your own country, may not be appropriate in another. Please keep this in mind while travelling.

Top responsible travel tips for Senegal

1. Be considerate of Senegal’s customs, traditions, religions and culture.

2. Only use your right hand when dealing with locals. The left is used for ‘unhygienic tasks’.

3. Learn some local language and don't be afraid to use it - simple greetings will help break the ice.

4. Dress modestly and respectfully. Shoulders to knees should be covered and shoes removed when entering places of worship.

5. For environmental reasons, try to avoid buying bottled water. Fill a reusable water bottle or canteen with filtered water or use water purification tablets.

6. Always dispose of litter thoughtfully, including cigarette butts.

7. Shop for locally made products. Supporting local artisans helps keep traditional crafts alive and supports the local community.

8. When bargaining, stay calm, be reasonable and keep a smile on your face. It's meant to be fun!

9. Refrain from supporting businesses that exploit or abuse endangered animals.

10. Please ask and receive permission before taking photos of people, including children.

11. When on community visits or homestays, refrain from giving gifts or money to locals.

Further reading

Recommended reading

Title Author
Baobab FouKen Bugul
The Kingdom of Waalo: Senegal Before the ConquestBoubacar Barry
The Beggars' StrikeAminata Sow Fall
Three Strong WomenMarie NDiaye
Door of No Return: The Legend of Goree IslandSteven Barboza