Known as ‘The Country of Teranga’ – Teranga meaning hospitality in Wolof, the most wide-spoken language in the country – Senegal is probably one of the friendliest and most hospitable countries in West Africa.
Picture colourful markets displaying multicoloured fabrics and authentic arts & crafts; golden, white and yellow sandy beaches stretching as far as the eye can see; energetic music playing on every street corner; and mouthwatering food enticing your senses with exotic aromas. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
There’s the Sahel to the north, dotted with mighty Baobab trees; the mountainous region of Fouta Djallon in the south east, hiding secretive tribes and beautiful waterfalls; winding mangroves in the west, harbouring one of the largest concentrations of migratory birds in the World; and palm-fringed tropical beaches and islands in the southern Casamance region. There’s no doubt Senegal can satisfy even the most demanding of visitors.
Senegal’s diverse regions offer an abundance of awe-inspiring landscapes, wonderful experiences and a good chance of spotting some of the most interesting wildlife West Africa can offer, including giraffes, elephants, hippos, rhinos, lions and panthers.
It’s also an exciting place for those looking for outdoor adventure. Surf some of the best waves in West Africa in year-round warm waters, hike through lush tropical rainforest-clad mountains to discover towering waterfalls, take a bicycle ride along red clay roads to explore the breathtaking Sahel countryside, navigate the mysterious mangrove swamps to look for freshwater oysters, go deep-sea fishing off the continental shelf with a chance of catching the next record-holding tarpon or sword-fish, or even take a ride on a Micro-Light, and fly over awesome landscapes.
Culture vultures won’t be disappointed either. With year round music and art festivals such as the St. Louis Jazz Festival, well managed museums displaying some of the most interesting artefacts found in the region, well-preserved colonial ruins and reminders of the infamous trans-Atlantic slave trade, as well as impromptu street festivals displaying intoxicating music and dance routines that will get you dancing, Senegal is a constant reminder of human imagination, creativity, resilience and ‘joie de vivre’ found in this part of the World. You’ll find that the Senegalese are some of the most smiling and friendly people you’ll ever meet. Don’t be surprised to find yourself being invited into someone’s home to eat one of the local mouthwatering dishes.
Senegal’s good at beach vacations too. If you want to kick back, relax, and enjoy the sun, sea, a few cocktails and some lovely food, then there are all sorts of options: perhaps an all-inclusive resort? Or a quaint little beach bungalow with a view? How about a community-owned campsite? An eco-lodge with good environmental and social credentials? There are even tree-houses available if you prefer your accommodation quirky.
Easily accessible from Europe and the US, offering an array of experiences that will satisfy the most demanding of travellers, and with up to eight months of sun a year and one of the best infrastructures in the region, Senegal is a sure-fire winner the first-time visitor to West Africa.