6 Top Rated Tourist Attractions in Senegal
Once known for its wild, pristine beaches, this enchanting country has a long and intriguing history. The wealth of natural beauty here means there are countless things to see and do on a visit to Senegal.
Senegal's capital city, Dakar, a vibrant port city where the majority of its people live, is a great place to start planning your itinerary, and this is where you'll find the bulk of the country's sights, such as the Petit Fort National Monument, the colonial district, and Senegalese restaurants, cafés, and bars.
But Senegal is so much more than just the capital. In fact, the entire country offers so much, from the beaches of the south, to the lushly tropical west, to the untamed beauty of the north. Discover this fascinating West African country with this list of the top attractions in Senegal.
Casamance is Senegal's southernmost region, with an unbroken coastline of white beaches and bays, bordered to the west by the Gambia. It is home to more than 600 species of plants and 600 types of animals, including 24 species of endemic reptiles and 60 species of birds. It was once part of the French colony of Senegal and retains a distinct Franco-African feel. The regional capital is Ziguinchor.
With its old colonial quarters and spectacular seascapes, Dakar is a city of contrasts. A little more than 100 kilometers east of Senegal's capital, Dakar, the beach resort of Guetara is full of tourists and pilgrims. The Medina is a maze of narrow streets where you'll find old colonial buildings with the extravagant tombs of nineteenth century French-African families. You can find a market bursting with life and vibrant colors all around you, or a peaceful sculpture garden of stone with ancient carved columns on the outskirts of the town. In the center of the city lies the Parc National de Niokolo-Koba which hosts gorillas in the wild. For any sport lover, Dakar is a natural location with a great airport, a lot of life for your sporting activities, with badminton, tennis, and soccer being the most popular activities.
Long, wide and nestled on the banks of the Senegal River, the second largest French-speaking city in Africa is a picture of colonial nostalgia. The best way to get to know the city is to wander the streets and grab a seat at any of the sidewalk cafes. Drink a beer, as there are no casinos in the city limits. Those who seek more adventures than visiting a museum can check out the giraffes of the Korobore forest, or admire the semi-precious stones and fabrics of the northern quarter of the city. Tango square or simply dinner with an aperitif, a beer and a fried or grilled fish, a bowl of couscous or a ceviche are tasty ways to spend time in Senegal.
Niokolo-Koba National Park
Niokolo-Koba National Park lies in Senegal's east-central region, is a home to great wildlife. The park is internationally important for its unique ecological environment and for its populations of crocodiles and chimpanzees, which are already a protected species. Accessible via the C5 motorway and the N1 road, the park has a strong tourist tradition. It is a popular destination for birdwatchers and for nature lovers, and contains many interesting flora and fauna. The drive through the park takes travelers past some of Senegal's most remote villages, as well as open fields and forests. The lush vegetation is home to some beautiful animals, including the Guinea baboon, at least 35 species of monkeys, and several species of birds. The park has been involved in cooperative conservation efforts for its large carnivores, such as the white-tipped mangabeys, the okapi, the Serval, the Black-and-White colobus and the Red colobus, and has helped protect the different vegetation zones within the park. The Nokolobs, the Menné or Mené, are also a traditional part of the park and have a strong ethnic identity, speaking their own language. Their civilization has a different history from that of the three main towns of Niokolo-Koba, M'Be and Kédougou. The Menné, as well as the Toucouleur, have a rich artistic history and were historically wealthy traders and colonial administrators.
Located on the beautiful northern coastline of the Senegal River, Kaolack lies across the estuary of the Gambia River from Senegal's capital, Dakar. One of Senegal's oldest cities, Kaolack was once home to the Slave Route and the Guinea Coast Gold Coast, home of the Sangho people, who are the country's largest ethnic group. Kaolack retains its general Mediterranean flavor and features traditional wooden houses in a wide variety of styles and sizes. The quaint streets are lined with stalls selling goat's milk, fish and fruit, and there are plenty of well-tended beaches nearby.
Gorée Island (located in Dakar, Senegal) is one of the world's most important coastal and lagoonal ecosystems. It is one of only a few islands in the world home to a diverse and thriving population of West African Cichlid fish. This habitat is home to over 500 species of birds, 120 species of mammals, amphibians and reptiles, hundreds of plant species, and fish species. These include the world's largest (and only known) white shark, which can be seen on occasional visits to the reef. It is a protected wildlife sanctuary, a part of the Marine and Coastal Ecosystems of West African Bank (MAKE). The site of Gorée Island, once part of the once famous slave trade route from Africa to the Americas, attracts visitors with its striking natural beauty. Tourist facilities include a campsite, a well-equipped camp site and a full-service restaurant.