Solo Travel in Senegal
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Africa is a continent often overlooked as a possible tourist destination. West African countries in particular have hugely impacted the continent. From cuisine, music to clothing and much more and Senegal is no exception. If you are planning a trip to Senegal, below is our Senegal travel guide including places to visit in Senegal, things to do in Senegal and tips for Senegal for travelling solo. Just click on the relevant link or read the whole article.
* Before you travel, check what paperwork or visas are required for Senegal.
N.b. This guide was written by Adeola Adeshina, Founder of AdeAfrica.com. By booking through this page for your Senegal holidays you are helping to improve the lives of vulnerable girls about the globe. Thanks for helping.
- Solo Travel in Senegal
- Tips For Senegal
- Places To Visit in Senegal
- Things To Do in Senegal
- Senegal Tours
- Getting Around Senegal
- Senegal Accommodation
- Airports in Senegal
- Best Time To Visit Senegal
- Map of Senegal
- Plan Your Trip To Senegal
- Related Posts
Solo Travel in Senegal
Safety in Senegal – Senegal is a safe West African country to visit, especially for solo female travellers. Though no country is 100% safe, Senegal is one of the safer African countries. If you’re in the capital Dakar, it’s best practice to always walk with a purpose (don’t look like a tourist or lost), If you are lost always go into a shop to ask directions rather than strangers on the street. As a solo female traveller you should also be mindful of your things, whether that’s your bag at a restaurant or drinks at a bar, never leave your things unattended.
If you don’t look Senegalese you can get unwanted attention from people especially beggars. It can also be a hassle trying to get a taxi as the drivers may inflate their prices, that’s why it’s handy to read my tips mentioned below.
Tips For Senegal
Senegal is a very relaxed and liberal country but is still an Islamic country so modesty should be taken into consideration. As Senegal is an Islamic country, their toilets often look different. Some places have squatting toilets whilst others have normal toilets but it’s very hard to find toilet paper. This is as they often use a hose in the stall to clean themselves rather than toilet paper. I recommend trying it out for a new experience but also keeping some pocket tissues to hand too.
If you plan to stay in the country for a long time, it may be useful for you to get a sim card, these can easily be bought in phone shops. Public WiFi is not really common. Though some upscale restaurants do have WiFi, it may be safer as a solo female traveller to stay connected on your go throughout the city too.
Backpacking in Senegal is definitely doable as there are hostels that you can stay in to meet others and transport is cheap, but you won’t find that many people backpacking in Senegal.
Here are the best ways to meet people in Dakar:
- Stay in a hostel. I’ve found that staying in hostels really helped me to meet new people and go on adventures together and Dakar was no different. With so many cheap hostels around, it’s more than worth a try.
- Take a tour. There are so many experiences and tours in Dakar which will not only help you see the sights of the city but are also a great way for you to meet fellow travellers.
- Joining some clubs. Now I didn’t personally use this method, but I did hear from other travellers that this is a good way to meet people. Using sites like Facebook and joining groups is a great way to get the ball rolling.
Places To Visit in Senegal
Senegal is situated on the coast of West Africa. Its neighbouring countries are Gambia, Guinea Bissau, Guinea, Mali and Mauritania. This country is by far one of my favourite African countries and one of those African countries that feels a lot like Europe. Dakar is a beautiful, bustling city, with so many cool places to visit. With frequent public transport, google maps will be your best friend in finding your way around the city.
Depending on your itinerary, I’d say that 5 days to a week in Dakar would be enough to really see what the capital has to offer. Dakar also has a lot of hidden gems such as dream park on the southern part of the city. Make sure you ask some locals, hotel staff, expats etc. to fully get to see what this city has to offer. In the meantime, here are some must visit sites.
If there’s one must visit place in Dakar, this is it! Just off the course of mainland Senegal, Goree Island offers a better understanding the transatlantic slave trade and Senegalese history. From museums to well preserved buildings, this UNESECO World Heritage Site truly feels like you’re stepping back in time. This island is a chilling reminder of the scar of slavery many African countries still carry. I advise going with a tour guide, you can hire them before you get at the port where you buy tickets to the island or on the island. (Senegalese and Africans get a discounted rate onto the island)
The African Renaissance Monument
This is the tallest African statue and an undeniably breath-taking copper statue in the capital. A must see in Dakar and one of the popular Senegal tourist attractions. This monument celebrates not only Senegalese liberation but African liberation from colonialism. This magnificent statue was created in hopes of becoming an international tourist attraction like the statue of liberty. I hope you like stairs because just like the road to freedom, it is a long climb up.
Niokolo-Koba National Park. This is a UNESCO World Heritage site is Senegal’s largest national park. This protected area is home to some amazing biodiversity. This is a great place for bird lovers who’d be able to get close up views of flamencos, pelicans and even elephants!
The IFAN Museum and Museum of Black Civilizations are great places to go to explore more of West African culture. With a hundred artefacts, from African clothing styles to traditional armour dating back hundreds of years. A must visit if you’re in Dakar. Henriette Bathily museum is also worth a look for those who’d like to know how Senegalese women live their daily lives.
Or pay a visit to Village des Arts. This gallery is perfect for art lovers as it showcases some amazing art pieces from local Senegalese artists and painters.
Though not technically in Dakar, the Stones of Senegambia are still worth the trip. Scattered around Senegal and Gambia, these UNESCO World heritage sites date back to the 3rd century BC. and are historical landmarks. Whilst some speculate these stones to be a burial ground, others believe the stones were placed there by Gods and have spiritual meaning. Either way, they sure are an archaeological wonder.
For those adventure seekers, why not visit Fathala Wildlife reserve. This reserve is home to hundreds of animals including endangered animals such as rhinos, warthogs, buffaloes and more. You can even get the unique experience to walk with lions. Bet you don’t have the opportunity to do that everyday.
The Djoudj National Bird Park is the 3rd sanctuary in the world and a paradise for bird lovers. With over 350 different bird species migrating to and from this park, don’t miss out on a chance to see some beautiful birds such as pelicans and flamingos. But if birds aren’t your thing, this park is also home to other animals like monkeys, warthogs and even crocodiles.
Chill in N’gor, an upscale part of Dakar and the go to area for parties and bars. With amazing rooftop bars, good music and cheap drinks, you’re bound to have a great time here.
Things To Do in Senegal
Other unique things to do in Senegal include taking a boat ride across Lac Rose. Also known as Lake Retba, This is a beautiful lake located 45km from central Dakar and is naturally pink due to the high salt content. Though when I went, it wasn’t particularly pink, it is worth a visit if you have extra time on your trip as the landscape and area alone are very different to inner city Dakar.
Another of the things to see in Senegal is the Mosque of Divinity. This mosque is located in Ouakam, a neighbourhood in Dakar and stands tall on the edge of the Atlantic ocean. Why not take a trip to see it and marvel at the amazing architecture.
Try their renowned rice. Wolof rice also commonly known as jollof rice is a popular staple dish across west Africa which has existed for centuries! It is said to have originated in Senegal. This dish can be commonly found in most restaurants and is typically served with meat or fish and salad. Why not try it out and tell us what you think?
Head to Marche Sandaga. This local market is home to some amazing Senegalese artwork. Located in the Dakar-plateau (southern part of the city) You can walk around this market to find textiles, home wear, African printed clothing and much more! Even if you don’t plan on buying anything, It’s well worth a look around.
Head to the Beach. Dakar has some undeniably great beaches with neighbourhoods like Ngor being notoriously loved by surfers. With amazing sandy beaches and great local food close by, you definitely won’t be disappointed making Dakar your next holiday destination.
Get Your Guide – Get Your Guide helps you to find top-rated activities and day tours in worldwide destinations including Senegal. Choose from a Goree Island half-day tour from Dakar or Saly, a pink lake tour, or a trip to Ngor or the Bandia Wildlife Reserve. Although some of the tours are for a minimum of 2 people, there are several tours to choose from for one, and it’s really simple to use. Just check the reviews, price and availability then book online, or read my review.
Viator – Viator are similar to Get Your Guide. They are an American company and a tour platform with more than 345,000 tours and worldwide activities. Choose from a Senegal tour to Lac Rose and Noflaye Tortoise Park, a half-day tour to Somone Lagoon and Bandia Park, or a half-day Dakar city tour. Read my Viator review or click the link for all their tours.
Senegal Odyssey Tours – For local Senegal tours, I recommend Senegal Odyssey Tours. Oumar is really knowledgable and friendly and makes you feel at ease whilst showing you his home country and telling you about its history.
Getting Around Senegal
Transport may be your biggest expense here as taxi drivers are often opportunists inflating the prices for tourists. Especially at the airports so I recommend getting the coach to downtown Dakar. In Dakar haggling with taxi drivers is a must, even for locals and knowing a bit of Wolof can help with this. Busses are cheaper but often confusing to navigate for a non-local as bus stops are not clearly marked so you’re better off practicing on your negotiation skills.
* Rome2Rio is a good resource for planning your way around
With the rise of tourism to the country’s capital, Dakar has a lot of cheaper accommodations which are now available. An average night in a hostel will cost around $5 per person per night with 5-star hotels costing around $150 a night.
The best area to stay in Senegal depends on what type of experience you are looking for. I’d advice staying in the Yoff or Ngor which are the suburb regions of Dakar. They are more upscale with a lot of nice bars, restaurants and shops without the noise of the bustling city centre.
Plus there’s Airbnb which offers rental accommodation in Senegal on a short-term basis and rooms in Australia with a local. You can stay in a private room in a local's house or rent their whole apartment. Save $20 off your first stay with this Airbnb link.
Airports in Senegal
Senegal has 14 international airports and domestic airports. The major airport in Dakar is Dakar Blaise Diagne International Airport. From Dakar Airport the bus takes 50 minutes to an hour and costs £14 for the journey.
Best Time To Visit Senegal
Senegal has relatively good year climate all year-round with temperatures rarely dipping below 20 degrees. The best time to go to Senegal is during the winter dry season; from November to March as there’s a guarantee of sunshine with minimum humidity and rain. The chart below shows the annual temperatures for the weather in Senegal and Dakar from January to December.
- Can I drink the water? No, you can't drink the tap water. Take a water filter with you instead.
- Is tipping expected? If you’re happy with service 10% is acceptable for restaurants, taxis and tour guides.
- Fixed price or barter? Fixed Price except at markets.
- Any ATMs? Yes in the main cities.
- Which side of the road do they drive? The right-hand side.
- Good for vegetarians? They do love their meat but it’s okay for veggies.
- Any Seven Wonders of the World? No.
Map of Senegal
Plan Your Trip To Senegal
If you are ready to solo travel Senegal, here are some useful links such as vaccinations, currency and events and festivals to help you plan your holidays in Senegal.
Current time in Dakar
Budget – £50 a day (based on traveling on a budget and staying in hostels and budget accommodation Senegal)
Capital – Dakar
Population – 16.3 million
Language spoken – French and Wolof
Local Currency – West African Franc (CFA)
Do I need a visa? – You don't need a visa if you are a British citizen for stays up to 3 months.
Flying time to Senegal – 6 hours from UK
Did you know? Senegal is set to be the first African country to host the Olympics!
Lingo – Useful French phrases
The Best Time to Go – April
About the Author
This guide was written in March 2021 by Adeola Adeshina, Founder of AdeAfrica.com. Adeola has been a budget traveller for over 5 years, living and travelling all over the world. In 2019 she went on a solo female trip across Africa and loved it. She believes that Africa is a beautiful continent that is often overlooked as a travel destination and she hopes to change that.
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