Everything in Senegal is beautiful! My colleague had raved about Dakar, but I never imagined falling so deeply for this vibrant city. I would move to Dakar in a heartbeat if the opportunity presents itself.
I honestly can’t tell you what I loved the most about Senegal because the whole country looks like a sequoia filter. The landscape so beautiful, amazing art doting every corner, really really really good food, friendly people and fantastic music.
Of course there are always bad eggs who want to take advantage of tourists, just like the taxi man who demanded I give him money when I decided not to go with his taxi again, his reason being that he had already put my luggage in his car boot even though we had not yet gone anywhere. He hadn’t even started his car! Yet insisted that I give him 1,000 CFA for no service rendered, while the previously agreed fare was 3,000 CFA. So of course, the Lagosian in me had to jump out to show him small craze, but generally, the Senegalese are a fine breed.
I started my exploration with Camel market. You’d find the freshest vegetables, seafood and meat in this market. Just make sure you go early enough. The sight of monkfish flying off the shelves surprised me. I wouldn’t have guessed this “ugly” fish was such a hit, but apparently, taste buds trump looks!
Stepping onto Gorée Island was like stepping back in time, Portuguese presence etched in every stone. But nothing could prepare me for the raw power of the Point of No Return. Standing there, the weight of history pressed down, a sobering reminder of the human cost of colonialism.
Many countries with a history of slavery especially in West Africa all have different points of no return. And honestly, there’s still some eerie feeling in those places like the ghosts of embittered slaves roaming around restless. I remember when I visited the point of no return in Badagry, Lagos Nigeria. The paranormal atmosphere sent shivers down my spine, and I couldn’t get out of there fast enough. I needed to escape the creepy vibes and find some peace. May the souls of all enslaved people rest in peace. Amen 🙏🏾
African Renaissance Monument
My next visit was to African Renaissance Monument and honestly, that structure is humongous! And very very beautiful too. Determined to leave a lasting legacy, the Senegalese sought a monument that would endure for centuries and embody the spirit of Africa. North Korea, responding to their vision, gifted them with this magnificent structure. Interestingly enough, at the inauguration of the statue, many African countries did not attend because of their allegiance to the United States as the US has North Korea on its black list. While this is understandable, I also thought it was very silly because it’s just a monument? Why wouldn’t you attend the unveiling of such an important piece of art on the African continent for all Africans just because it was a gift from North Korea? I still think it’s the silliest thing.
Mosque of Divinity
Close to the African Renaissance Monument and guided by a heavenly vision, a Guru’s dream planted the seed for the Mosque of Divinity. Today, its towering minarets pierce the sky near the African Renaissance Monument, a testament to the enduring power of faith and the transformative touch of dreams. He rallied the religious to build the mosque according to the vision he had and at the same spot. The members of the community built the mosque themselves, working entirely on a volunteer basis. Nobody received any payment for their involvement in the construction.
Cathedral of Our Lady of Victories
Here’s me at the Cathedral of Our Lady of Victories. Would’ve loved to attend mass here but unfortunately didn’t have enough time.
One thing I very much liked about Dakar is how safe it felt. Of course there’s crime everywhere but the feeling of safety as a foreigner is priceless, especially as a woman foreigner. The Senegalese government operates on the principle of knowing and understanding each individual within its society. There’s a district officer in every section of town where before you get employment or even open a bank account, you’d have to get proof of address from the district officer. So everyone basically knows everybody, which helps keep crime rate low.
Now to the most fun part: Food!!! Senegalese cuisine is so delightful! I’m not exactly sure why Nigerians and Ghanaians take pride in their jollof wars because none comes close to Senegalese jollof rice. The Senegalese have won two hands up with their Thieboudienne. I couldn’t eat enough of it. Made with the freshest ingredients and very wonderfully plated.
Everything in Senegal is an art, even if you were just going to eat at a food shack down the road. They take plating of food very seriously. Every meal is a celebration! I ate the best Thiébou Yapp at Chez Loutcha. Started by a Cabo Verdian woman and now run by the 3rd generation, you’ll find locals here during lunch hour in Dakar.
One thing that surprised me a lot was how much the Senegalese ate. These people can eat! And shockingly, they still remain thin as broomsticks but that’s because as much as they eat, they also take exercising very seriously. In the evenings you’ll see everyone, woman, man, old and young people doing various forms of exercises. I absolutely love it!
My tour guide and I went to a seafood shack where we picked out clams, shellfish, murex and mussels to be eaten. I shocked myself by finishing a whole bowl of the seafood I’d picked and still had room for some grilled fish, tiger prawns, fries and plantain. So delicious!
I also enjoyed some fresh coconut water straight from the coconut. And then it was time to visit Plage de la Pointes des Almadies is the westernmost tip of Africa and Dakar if you look at the map. The place gave me some great pictures.
Next stop was Phare des Mamelles or Mamelles Lighthouse where the caretaker was kind enough to turn on and spin the light for me (a powerful 1000 halogen watts).
In the spirit of ecological preservation, this island is not electrified. While the island lacks a central grid, some residents embrace renewable energy, harnessing the sun’s power to illuminate their homes. Akon, the Senegalese-American music star also has a house there. Vive la Senegal! I enjoyed some serenity watching the waves beat on rocks from the hills on this island.
A visit to Dakar is never complete without some shopping. Visited Sandanga Market for some beautiful clothes and Soumbédioune market to buy bags and some lovely art. If you want amazing clothes for men and women then look no further than Ndiambour Couture et Textile. Abdou (+ 221 78 186 40 82) will be very glad to assist. They ship internationally too. I got the most amazing boubous from them
In Soumbédioune market and artisan village, the relentless hustle of the artisans, urging me to buy their wares, wore down my initial understanding of their non-aggressive policy. I couldn’t help but feel pressured and uncomfortable.
I loved Loman Art House more because it wasn’t just a regular art gallery but an actual art house. Loman Pawlitschek, a remarkable artist with no professional training, has transformed her house into a living gallery. Each room is a unique masterpiece, and I had the pleasure of meeting this lovely lady and marveling at her creations. Loman art house is also a guest house and has a cafe. So if you’re ever in Dakar and want to stay in a place that looks like an artist heaven, Loman Art House is the place for you.
Jus de Bouye (Baobab Juice) and Jus de Bissap (Bissap Juice)
Baobab trees are everywhere in Senegal and I mean everywhere! Embodying the spirit of Senegal, they serve as the nation’s chosen symbol, revered by its people. And true to character, the use of baobab is ubiquitous, from cooking to cosmetics. One of my favourite things to drink in Dakar was Jus de Bouye (Baobab Juice) and Jus de Bissap (Bissap Juice) combined.
Bissap is also called Zobo in Nigeria and Sobolo in Ghana. But like everything Senegalese, I definitely prefer the taste of their Bissap. The drink always soothed my parched throat after a long day of touring.
Below is bissap chocolate and baobab lip balm.
And of course, no visit to another country is complete without perusing the different snacks they have in that country. Below is a picture of some snacks sold in a supermarket in Dakar.
My trip to Dakar was a 10 over 10 over 10. I didn’t believe it was that possible to fall so much in love with a city at first visit, but Dakar truly stole my heart.
My heart has already booked its return ticket to this captivating city. With its sun-kissed beaches, vibrant culture, and soul-stirring beauty, Senegal is a bloom-inducing paradise I can’t wait to revisit and share with anyone seeking an unforgettable adventure.
Until next time, from your top guide in fine living.