19 Best Sights in Senegal
Senegal is the jewel of West Africa with a special colonial charm, where every tourist will find entertainment to his or her liking.
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Who Should Come to Senegal and Why?
Inquiring minds will surely want to unravel the mysteries of Senegambia’s megaliths. The purpose of the laterite giants is still unknown. The island of Gori, where slaves were kept, will be of interest to history lovers.
Nature lovers should visit the national parks:
- San Salum Reserve, a realm of water and mango forests.
- Lang De Barbari – home to hundreds of bird species, including migratory birds.
- Niokolo Koba is the largest reserve where you can enjoy Senegal’s nature in all its varied diversity.
The markets of Senegal are a concentration of African culture. It is worth visiting for tourists in search of new experiences and souvenirs at an attractive price.
The beaches and resort areas are also among the attractions of Senegal. All kinds of entertainment for tourists are available here, from contemplative to active.
Resorts and Parks
Niokolo-Koba National Park
Niokolo-Koba, established in 1954, is among the oldest and largest nature reserves on the African continent.
The area features diverse landscapes: swamps, impenetrable forests and savannahs are home to 70 species of animals and 300 species of birds. Large carnivores are relatively few, so the national park’s fauna is steadily increasing in numbers. Buffalo, giraffes, zebras, monkeys, mongooses, majestic elephants and other animals live here.
In the southwest of the park is the Bassari settlement. This people have preserved the way of life of their ancestors. The men and women of the tribe lead subsistence farming, hunting, and gathering. Tourists can look into the house they like and buy souvenirs.
Lang De Barbary Reserve
The national park lies on a peninsula that divides the Atlantic Ocean and the Senegal River. The reserve was created to protect birds.
In addition to its resident species of terns, gulls, pelicans and flamingos, the park also welcomes migratory visitors from Europe: herons and cranes. The park has over 160 species of birds. They are accompanied by monkeys, sea turtles, lizards and crabs.
Infrastructure of the reserve is well developed. Guests can stay in cabins on stilts and admire the nature right from the window of the bungalow. Several hotels have also been built near the borders of the park.
Beaches of Cape Skirring
The sandy beaches of Cap Skirring, covered in soft golden sand, are considered the best on the west coast of Africa. Water temperatures rarely drop below 24°C and the vast coastline, lined with lush tropical vegetation, offers enough room for everyone. Most beaches are wild, infrastructure can boast only areas at the hotels.
San Salum Nature Reserve.
Reserve area of over 76,000 hectares is named after the Sin Salum River, flowing through its territory. The length of the waterway is about 250 km. The reserve is famous for its beautiful mangrove forests inhabited by rare animals, including river dolphins and manatees. In general, there are representatives of more than 70 species of fauna.
Since 1981, Sin Salum is included in the list of protected areas under the protection of UNESCO.
The amazing pink lake is located about 20 km from Green Cape. The color of its water varies from pale red to scarlet, depending on the time of year and light. This variation in color is due to the high content of Halobacterium microorganisms in the water, which appeared on Earth over 3 billion years ago. The coloration is most intense during the dry season.
Another unique feature of the reservoir is its high salinity (390 g/l). The concentration of salt is higher than in the Dead Sea, so it is impossible to drown in the lake. On the shores of the Retba you can observe the traditional way of salt extraction – the technology has not changed for several centuries.
South of Dakar, between Rufisque and Joal-Fadiou, is the resort area of Petit-Cot. The beaches are securely enclosed by the Cap Vert peninsula, so there are rarely any big waves. There are lovely fishing villages along the coast, and the scenery is breathtaking.
In the Petit Cote area, you’ll find hotels for all budgets, bars, restaurants, and stores. Surfing, fishing, water skiing, and horseback riding are the most popular activities besides sunbathing.
Located near the city of Dakar, the Madeleine Reserve consists of several uninhabited volcanic islands and the water space between them. The rocky patches of land are home to a large colony of birds.
Only one island, Snake Island, is accessible to tourists, but it is enough to appreciate the beauty of the birds and observe their behavior in their natural habitat.
Dakar is the capital of the state, as well as the epicenter of cultural and business life. It is home to the best hotels, restaurants and stores. For several years, the Paris-Dakar rally started and ended in the city.
Of particular interest is the historical district of the city or Medina. The squat buildings are made in a colorful Afro-Arab architectural style. Also in Dakar, there are several museums: the Theodore Monod Museum of African Art, where masks and musical instruments are exhibited, as well as maritime and historical museums.
Saint-Louis was once an important economic center of West Africa, then its status passed to the dynamic Dakar.
To this day, however, the city has retained its distinctive atmosphere and colonial charm. It is especially evident in the historic center, where almost every building has a plaque that tells the story of a landmark event that took place here.
The city, spread out on a narrow island in the middle of the Senegal River, is perfectly adapted for tourists. There are good hotels, clubs, restaurants and casinos. And the main entertainment is boating and boat rides.
A picturesque island lies just 2 km from Dakar. For 300 years Europeans used this little piece of land as a staging post for slaves from Africa, who were then ferried across the ocean. The slaves lived in tiny barracks in inhumane conditions.
Today Gori is a tourist attraction with a cozy beach, picturesque streets, villas and other trappings of serene life.
Its main attractions: the Slave House, built in the XVIII century, the barracks for the soldiers who guarded the “live goods” and the houses of the slave traders. A legacy of French presence is the church of Saint-Charles and a dilapidated fort in which a historical museum has been set up.
Stone giants ranging in height from 1.25 m to 2 m are scattered over an area of more than 35 thousand square meters along the border of Gambia and Senegal.
The pillars are made of laterite, and their age ranges from 400 to 2,000 years. The purpose of the megaliths is not exactly known; perhaps their appearance is related to the ancient rites and beliefs of the local tribes. Near the pillars, scientists have found burials. Then came the version that the “African Stonehenge” – is nothing more than a cemetery.
In this city, located in the west, is worth a visit for those who want to bring back from Africa practical souvenirs. Thies is the main center of production of all kinds of carpets. Products are made from natural materials on traditional looms, and their colorful threads keep the warmth of human hands.
Tourists can learn in detail about the process of carpet weaving and even take a small master class. There is also a tapestry factory in the city. From the trip is worth bringing a bright canvas in a unique Senegalese style.
Saint Louis Cathedral
The cathedral was founded in 1763, but it took 65 years to build. The white and yellow building has a classical style. The only decoration of the facade is a large wooden door and a cross above the entrance. The interior decoration is equally laconic. The church is active and holds services on Sundays.
The 16 meter Mamelle Lighthouse was built in 1864 and still operates to this day. It is also considered the second most powerful lighthouse in Africa as it shines over 50 km away (the Cape of Good Hope is the first). At the top of Mamelle is an observation deck.
Cathedral of Our Lady of Victory
An unusual Catholic church appeared in Dakar in the early 1930s. It’s difficult to attribute its appearance to just one style: it has features of Art Deco, Neo-Gothic and Art Nouveau. The main gilded dome, elaborately painted on the inside, alludes to the Qubbat al-Sakhra Mosque in Jerusalem.
Markets in Senegal
The best place to buy souvenirs reminiscent of a visit to Africa is the Saint-More-de-Fosse market in Ziguinchor. Here they sell masks, jewelry, spices, decorative items and natural fabrics of all colors. Be sure to haggle – there are no fixed prices.
A small market nestled in one of the most beautiful buildings in Dakar. The structure is round and topped with a large dome. The entrance is decorated with an arch in the oriental style, complete with clock. Inside they sell vegetables, fruits, seafood and spices.
This is the largest and noisiest market in Dakar. It is always crowded, so you should be vigilant about keeping your wallet safe. Trade is carried out in stationary stores, mobile stalls and trays, set up directly on the ground. Here they sell fabric with national ornaments, clothing, shoes, souvenirs, dry goods. The prices are lower than on the beaches.
Loman Art House.
Loman Art House is something between a contemporary art gallery and a gimmicky home decor store.
The spacious rooms of the mansion are hung with paintings, installations made from recycled materials, furniture and handmade interior items. Many of the art objects are also made here. For a small fee, you can view the exhibits and if you want to buy stuff you like.
Senegal is an interesting country in the west of Africa and also one of the popular tourist destinations. And perhaps the main reason for its tourist popularity is its diversity. Senegal has deserts, areas of lush greenery, exotic corners. In the cities you can see interesting constructions. Also impressive is the distinctive culture. All this is combined with excellent living conditions. But! Before visiting Senegal, it is recommended to explore the sights in detail.
The City of Dakar
This is the capital and the largest, most famous and interesting city. It is located on the Atlantic coast on the Cape Verde Peninsula. In the city should visit the Theodore Monod Museum, the oldest art center in West Africa.
Also notable is the Coloban, a local market where you can buy good clothes and shoes in bulk.
Dakar Cathedral Mosque
Another recommended visit is the Dakar Cathedral Mosque. It is one of the symbols of the city and also the main religious building of Senegal.
Monument of African Renaissance
Finally, everyone should admire the Monument of African Renaissance. This is one of the tallest statues on the African continent. The height of the structure is 49 meters. A tall man is holding a small child with one hand and a woman in his arms with the other. The monument is made of bronze and looks very impressive.
The Pink Lake Senegal
This is a truly amazing sight. It is called Lac Rose because of the pink color of its water. In sunny weather, the water turns bright pink. Such an interesting hue is formed because of specific algae.
The shallow, salty Pink Lake is one of the most popular and unforgettable natural monuments of Senegal.
Ile de Gorée Island Senegal
It is a UNESCO designated island. It is also a major tourist destination. The island is also called the “Island of Gorée” or the “Island of Slaves”. In the past it was a major center of the slave trade.
The island has a number of attractions related to the theme of slavery in Africa. For example, there is a preserved fortress and colonial houses. Tourists can vividly imagine how slaves existed as they waited to leave for the New World.
Fatala Senegal Reserve
On the border of Senegal and Gambia is a famous reserve, created to preserve the natural beauty. There are forests, swampy areas.
The protected area is home to a variety of animals – buffalo, rhinos, giraffes. There are rare water inhabitants in the swamps. The caretakers of the reserve monitor the life of animals and try to maintain good conditions for their life.
Jude National Park Senegal
The Stone Circles in Senegal
UNESCO has taken a group of megalithic complexes in Senegal and Gambia under its protection. The stones look powerful and spectacular. The stones weigh about 10 tons. And studying them is quite fascinating.
The exact age and purpose of the stones is not known. The rock carvings are quite complex. Architects and lovers of everything unusual are fascinated by this attraction.
Salum River Delta
This is a very picturesque place. There are more than 200 islands, canals and a huge variety of flora and fauna. In the lush mangrove forests you can see flamingos living in the wild. Undoubtedly, these birds are beautiful.
The river valley is also home to gulls, terns, pelicans, herons, and many other birds. This is one of Senegal’s most screaming and eye-catching attractions.
Abbey de Coura Moussa
Outside of Dakar is a Benedictine monastery whose history begins in 1961. The abbey received the status of abbey in 1984.
Tourists come here to see Mass, which includes a musical liturgy. The event is very beautiful and touching. Staying in the abbey is a most pleasant experience.