“When I’m in Senegal, I can’t just sit in isolation making music. People need my help. And the Senegalese people helped create my music. It comes from the country itself”
I’m just back from a cheeky little trip to Senegal – a beautiful country. Sadly I did not have very long there with just 4 days in country and 2 travel days, so I only got to see a tiny amount, only visiting Dakar and Saint-Louis.
I’ve travelled quite a lot in Africa – it’s probably my favourite continent – but had never been to west Africa. Since my return, I’ve read that the name Senegal is thought to come from the Wolof Sunuu Gaal meaning ‘our boat’ – pretty fitting as there are pirogues (canoe style boats) everywhere you look! I took so many photos of them as they are often painted beautiful colours.
It’s not just the boats that are pretty though – the buses are often multi-coloured and the outfits are amazing too! And of course the African sunsets take some beating.
European colonisation began in the mid 15th century, with the French ruling from the 19th century, with influence easily seen in the amazing and varied architectural styles. The commonest languages spoken are Wolof and French, despite Senegal gaining its independence in 1960. In fact, I was a bit worried about how I’d get by as I am awful at languages and thus booked more tours than I normally would, as someone who normally prides myself as a fairly independent traveller. More people probably speak English than they’ll admit to, so I maybe could have muddled my way through.
The two tour companies that I used were quite different – one was Senegalese and the other American. Both had advantages and disadvantages so I guess it depends on whether you want more genuine info on Senegal from those who have always lived there or better English… As I was the sole person on all my tours, I could dictate a little when and where I wanted to stop and thus didn’t feel quite as much pressure as usual to make purchases. Be wary that prices vary widely between companies – in one instance, I found a tour that was over double the price but offered exactly the same thing! In the end, I did that trip on my own and thus saved a lot of money!
The weather was beautiful, food was great – lots of fresh fish and I really enjoyed poulet yassa (chicken with onions in lemon), not too many tourists, miles of beaches etc. Would I go back? Yes, but the world is a big place so I’d probably prefer to explore a few more countries first!
(All photos my own and taken on my smartphone!)