“The chameleon changes colour to match the earth, the earth doesn’t change colour to match the chameleon”
The only other place that I managed to visit whilst in Senegal was Saint-Louis, which I did on a two day tour from Dakar. Much more pleasant than a bus with no delays and travelling in comfort with air-conditioning. As it’s a good four to five hour drive, I’d definitely recommend staying overnight personally. I was impressed with the quality of the roads and once you are outside Dakar, there are lots of villages displaying different wares.
On the way, we stopped at a large baobab tree, thought to be 350 years old and my guide explained how every bit of the tree is used – pretty incredible! Once in Saint-Louis, I realised quite how far outside of the town centre my hotel (Hotel Mermoz – hotelmermoz.com) was. I had a few hours to kill before my city tour so would have struggled to get back into the town centre but this did mean that I relaxed by the pool and strolled along the beach.
Truthfully, there is not a lot to do in Saint-Louis. I gather that most visitors do a city tour in a horse and cart and walk across the Faidherbe bridge (metal bridge in the first picture). The horse and cart tour is well worth doing and is a great way to explore the town. Saint-Louis was the original capital of Senegal when it was under French rule and there are a number of beautiful buildings that are reminiscent of the nationalities of previous inhabitants. We saw the world war 1 memorial, the old storage facilities for the when the ships unloaded and a couple of pet pelicans!
The highlight of the tour was seeing the fishing community in action. Not only were the pirogues setting off for the night with families coming to wave them off but there was the fish market and lots of evidence of the preparation of salted fish. No one seemed to mind us wondering around taking photos. Once back at the hotel, it would have been rude not to have fish for dinner!
The next morning, after a delicious continental style breakfast of French bed and croissants, we headed off for the Langue de la Barbarie National Park, which is famed for its abundant bird species. I think I was the first tourist of the day, so pretty much had the park to myself, along with my guide and driver of course! We set off in a pirogue and headed out to a sandy ridge where there were pelicans, herons etc. Apparently there are sometimes flamingos too.rons etc. Apparently there are sometimes flamingos too.
I thoroughly enjoyed the boat trip, even if the others found it a little chilly! We could see fishing boats still out at sea and there were some pristine sandy beaches which were totally unspoilt – a real bonus in Senegal where I was shocked by the amount of litter in some places!
I don’t know much about birds but am pleased that I visited as it was something a bit different before the journey back to Dakar. On this journey, I asked to stop and see where the salt was being collected from where the river floods in rainy season. Absolutely fascinating but a lot of hard work.
Overall, I had a great time on my fleeting visit to Senegal but don’t feel I really got to see the true country… If you’re planning on visiting, perhaps give yourself longer than 5 days!!
Next stop: Australia, Singapore and Vietnam!!