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Senegal Weather, climate and geography

Weather and climate

Best time to visit

Situated just above the equator, Senegal benefits from a warm and tropical climate, which sees temperatures hovering from warm to extremely hot throughout the year. The coast tends to see the country's coolest temperatures, ranging from around 18C (F) to 27C (F). Moving into the interior, temperatures hot up, with averages hovering around 30C (F). The hottest temperatures are found in the east on the Malian border, where the mercury has bee known to hit 50C (F) and higher.

The dry season runs from December through to April with cool trade winds (called harmattan winds) in coastal areas, and this is generally the best time to visit. Throughout the rest of the year, from May to November, a hot monsoon wind blows from the south bringing the rainy season and hot, humid weather. Rainfall is heaviest in the tropical-feeling Casamance and this is where the humidity is highest too. In the southeast and slight in the Sahelian region in the north and northeast, where temperatures tend to be higher.

Required clothing

Senegal's tropical and humid climate mean casual lightweight cottons are recommended for most of the year. Mosquitoes may be another thing to factor in when packing; the likelihood of bites is high, so you may want to stick to long sleeves and pack some high strength mosquito repellent. If you'll be in the Casamance region during the wet season waterproofs are essential. Sturdy shoes are necessary for any trekking and hiking activities, otherwise, normal shoes and sandals will do.

Geography

Located just above the equator, Senegal is bordered by Guinea Republic and Guinea-Bissau to the south, Mali to the east, Mauritania to the north, and completely encloses the confederated state of The Gambia. To the west lies the Atlantic Ocean. Most land is less than 100m (330ft) above sea level, with plains constituting the majority of the country’s geography, apart from the Fouta Djallon foothills in the southeast and the Bambouk Mountains on the Mali border.

On the coast between Dakar and St Louis is a strip of shifting dunes. South of Dakar there are shallow estuaries along the coastline, which is fringed by palm trees. In the northern part of the country, south of the Senegal Basin, lies the arid Fouta Ferlo, a hot dry Sahelian plain with little vegetation.