The fast-paced city life of capital city Dakar gives way to chilled-out beaches, plenty of top surfing spots, and one of the world’s best bird sanctuaries in Senegal. As you traverse the country you’ll notice the people are friendly, the food is delicious, and there’s enough to do to keep you busy for weeks.
Dakar is a noisy, vibrant city with a love for music that’s evident everywhere you go. Médina is packed with shops and houses, and it’s one of the liveliest neighbourhoods in the city. You’ll find tailors here who can create a custom-made suit for you, or you can just wander the streets checking out the latest Senegalese pop and fashions, stopping to admire the Grand Mosque, which dates back to 1664. The colonial buildings of the Place de l'Indépendance are worth a look, but allow more time for the Village des Arts, home to the work of Senegal’s most important artists.
Outside Dakar, Senegal has lots to offer. Saint-Louis was the first French settlement in Africa, and it’s now a Unesco World Heritage Site. Located on an island in the Senegal River, it’s quiet and antiquated with colonial architecture. In the area along the Casamance River there’s a tropical vibe, with mangrove forests, small islands and a series of popular beaches in Cap Skirring. Spend a night in Ziguinchor which has plenty of trees, a laid-back ambience and historic buildings.
Even if you’re not a birdwatcher, you’ll be impressed with the winged wildlife at Parc National des Oiseaux du Djoudj, also known as the Djoudj National Bird Sanctuary. At 16,000 hectares and with nearly 300 species of bird, the park is a place you’re guaranteed to spot something you haven’t seen before. The best way to see it is by boat, although you can also cycle through.