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Senegal travel guide

About Senegal

Senegal is often known as 'The Country of Teranga'. Teranga means hospitality in the local tongue of Wolof, and you will indeed find Senegal to be one of the friendliest spots in West Africa. The locals are hospitable - once you get to know them, you may find yourself being invited to share a steaming cup of tea or even some delicious home-cooked meals.

A simple wander around the local markets will unearth handmade fabrics and authentic arts and crafts, while on almost every street corner in the towns and cities you'll find musicians full of energy. It is also worth checking out bustling restaurants that serve up rich Senegalese cuisine influenced by the Maghrebis (inhabitants of northern Africa), French and Portuguese.

Most visitors land in Dakar, the chaotic, fast-growing capital, packed with great nightlife and restaurants. However, Senegal also offers beautiful, untouched rural scenery, along with golden beaches, tropical rainforests and semiarid grasslands. Suffice to say, Senegal offers something unique for every traveller.

Indeed, the diversity of Senegal is perhaps its best feature. The southern Casamance region boasts palm-fringed tropical beaches. The western region is bounded by the Atlantic Ocean, featuring a series of wetlands teeming with biodiversity, including one of the largest concentrations of migratory birds in the world. Then you have the relatively flat plains which give way to the mountainous region in the southeast – this is where the highest point of Senegal is found, reaching an elevation of 581m (1,906ft) near Népen Diakha.

Adventurous travellers come to Senegal to surf some of the best waves in West Africa in year-round warm waters, hike through lush tropical rainforest-clad mountains, discover towering waterfalls or go deep-sea fishing in the depth of the continental shelf. With birds, giraffes, elephants, hippos, rhinos, lions and panthers abound, wildlife viewing is also high on the agenda among some travellers.

Highbrow tourists won't be disappointed either. There are year-round music and art festivals such as the Saint-Louis Jazz Festival, as well as well-managed museums displaying some of the most interesting artefacts found in the region. You'll also find well-preserved colonial ruins and sites that remember the dehumanising Transatlantic slave trade.

Senegal is easily accessible from Europe and the USA. The country offers an array of experiences, has warm temperature year-round and one of the best infrastructures in the region, so it is time to put Senegal on your radar and come for a visit.

Key facts

Area:

196,712 sq km (75,951 sq miles).

Population:

16,657,759 (UN estimate 2020).

Population density:

87 per sq km.

Capital:

Dakar.

Government:

Republic.

Head of state:

President Macky Sall since 2012.

Travel Advice

COVID-19 Exceptional Travel Advisory Notice

As countries respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, including travel and border restrictions, the FCO advises against all but essential international travel. Any country or area may restrict travel without notice.

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Palm-fringed beaches, colourful cities and a reputation for world-class hospitality, Senegal deserves a spot on any seasoned traveller’s bucket list