Thursday, September 7, 2023
Senegal Travel Guide - Travel S Helper


travel guide

Senegal is a West African nation. Senegal is bounded to the north by Mauritania, to the east by Mali, to the southeast by Guinea, and to the southwest by Guinea-Bissau. Senegal also has a border with The Gambia, a nation that occupies a tiny sliver of territory along the banks of the Gambia river that divides Senegal’s southern province of Casamance from the rest of the country.

Senegal also has a marine boundary with the island of Cape Verde. Dakar is Senegal’s economic and political capital. It is the westernmost country on the Old World’s continent, or Afro-Eurasia, and gets its name from the Senegal River, which runs through it to the east and north. The name “Senegal” is derived from the Wolof phrase “Sunuu Gaal,” which translates as “Our Boat.” Senegal has a land area of over 197,000 square kilometers (76,000 square miles) and a population of approximately 13 million people. Although the climate is Sahelian, there is a wet season.

Flights & Hotels
search and compare

We compare room prices from 120 different hotel booking services (including, Agoda, and others), enabling you to pick the most affordable offers that are not even listed on each service separately.

100% Best Price

The price for one and the same room can differ depending on the website you are using. Price comparison enables finding the best offer. Also, sometimes the same room can have a different availability status in another system.

No charge & No Fees

We don’t charge any commissions or extra fees from our customers and we cooperate only with proven and reliable companies.

Ratings and Reviews

We use TrustYou™, the smart semantic analysis system, to gather reviews from many booking services (including, Agoda, and others), and calculate ratings based on all the reviews available online.

Discounts and Offers

We search for destinations through a large booking services database. This way we find the best discounts and offer them to you.

Senegal - Info Card




West African CFA franc (XOF)

Time zone



196,712 km2 (75,951 sq mi)

Calling code


Official language


Senegal - Introduction


Senegal is situated on the African continent’s western coast. It is located between 12° and 17° north latitude and 11° and 18° west longitude.

Externally, Senegal is bordered on the west by the Atlantic Ocean, on the north by Mauritania, on the east by Mali, and on the south by Guinea and Guinea-Bissau; internally, it is bordered on the north, east, and south by The Gambia, with the exception of Gambia’s small Atlantic coastline.

Senegal’s geography is dominated by the western Sahel’s undulating sandy plains, which ascend to foothills in the southeast. Senegal’s highest peak is also located here, at 584 meters, on an otherwise nameless rock near Nepen Diakha (1,916 ft). The Senegal River forms the northern boundary; other rivers include the Gambia and Casamance. Dakar, the capital, is located on the Cap-Vert peninsula, which is continental Africa’s westernmost point.

The Cape Verde islands are located 560 kilometers (350 miles) off the coast of Senegal, but Cap-Vert (“Cape Green”) is a maritime landmark located at the foot of “Les Mammelles,” a 105-meter (344-foot) cliff at one end of the Cap-Vert peninsula, onto which Senegal’s capital Dakar is built, and 1 kilometer (0.6 mile) south of the “Pointe des Almadies,” Africa’s westernmost point.


Senegal has a tropical climate with comfortable temperatures all year and distinct dry and humid seasons brought on by northeast winter and southwest summer breezes. The hot, dry, harmattan wind dominates the dry season (December to April). Between June and October, when maximum temperatures average 30 °C (86.0 °F) and minimums 24.2 °C (75.6 °F), Dakar receives approximately 600 mm (24 in) of annual rainfall. From December to February, maximum temperatures average 25.7 °C (78.3 °F) and minimums 18 °C (64.4 °F).

Interior temperatures are higher than along the coast (for example, average daily temperatures in Kaolack and Tambacounda for May are 30 °C (86.0 °F) and 32.7 °C (90.9 °F), respectively, compared to Dakar’s 23.2 °C (73.8 °F) ), and rainfall is significantly higher farther south, exceeding 1,500 mm (59.1 in) in some areas.

Temperatures at Tambacounda, in the deep interior, may reach 54 °C (129.2 °F), especially near the Mali border, when the desert starts. The country’s northernmost region has a near-desert climate, while the middle region experiences a hot semi-arid climate and the southernmost region experiences a tropical wet and dry climate. Senegal is mostly a sun-drenched and arid nation.


Senegal has a population of approximately 13.5 million people, with rural regions accounting for 42 percent of the population. The population density in these regions ranges from approximately 77 people per square kilometer (200 people per square mile) in the west-central region to 2 people per square kilometer (5.2 people per square mile) in the dry eastern portion.

Ethnic groups

Senegal is home to a diverse range of ethnic groups, and many languages are widely spoken, as they are in other West African nations. The Wolof ethnic group accounts for 43% of Senegal’s population; the Fula and Toucouleur (also known as Halpulaar’en, literally “Pulaar-speakers”) (24%) are the second largest, followed by the Serer (14.7%), and then smaller ethnic groups such as Jola (4%), Mandinka (3%), Maures (Naarkajors), Soninke, Bassari, and many others (9 percent ). (For further information, see the Bedick ethnic group.)

Senegal is home to about 50,000 Europeans (primarily French) and Lebanese, as well as a lesser number of Mauritanians and Moroccans, principally in the cities and some retirees in the resort towns near Mbour. The majority of Lebanese are employed in the commercial sector. Small Vietnamese groups and a rising number of Chinese immigrant merchants, each numbering a few hundred individuals, are also concentrated in metropolitan areas. In addition, tens of thousands of Mauritanian refugees live in Senegal, mostly in the north.

Senegal had about 23,800 refugees and asylum seekers in 2007, according to the World Refugee Survey 2008, released by the United States Committee for Refugees and Immigrants. Mauritania accounts for the bulk of the population (20,200). N’dioum, Dodel, and other tiny villages along the Senegal River valley are home to refugees.


The Republic of Senegal is a secular state. The country’s main religion is Islam. Approximately 94 percent of the country’s population follows Islam; the Christian community, which accounts for 5% of the population, is mainly Roman Catholic, although there are also a variety of Protestant groups. Animist ideas are held by 1% of the population, mostly in the southern portion of the nation. The Serer religion is practiced by certain Serer people.

In Senegal, the majority of Muslims are Sunni with Sufi influences. In Senegal, Islamic communities are centered on one of many Islamic Sufi orders or brotherhoods, each led by a khalif (xaliifa in Wolof, from Arabic khalfa), who is typically a direct descendant of the group’s founder. The Tijaniyya, whose biggest sub-groups are located in the towns of Tivaouane and Kaolack, and the Murdiyya (Murid), centered in the city of Touba, are the two largest and most famous Sufi organizations in Senegal. Nondenominational Muslims account for 27% of Muslims.

The Halpulaar (Pulaar-speakers), who are made up of Fula and Toucouleurs who live along the Sahel from Chad to Senegal, account for 23.8 percent of the population. They were the first to convert to Islam throughout history. Many Toucouleurs, or sedentary Halpulaar from the Senegal River Valley in the north, converted to Islam about a millennium ago and helped spread Islam across Senegal. The Wolofs were successful, but the Serers were defeated.

The majority of villages south of the Senegal River Valley, on the other hand, were not fully Islamized. The Serer people stood out as one of these groups, having fought Islamization for almost a thousand years (see Serer history). Although many Serers are Christians or Muslims, their conversion to Islam is very recent, since they converted of their own free choice rather than through compulsion, despite centuries of failed attempts at coercion (see the Battle of Fandane-Thiouthioune).

The Tidjâniyya’s efforts aided the development of official Quranic schools (known as daara in Wolof) during the colonial era. The word daara is frequently used to labor groups dedicated to working for a religious leader in Murid communities, which put a greater emphasis on work ethic than on literary Quranic study. The much earlier Qdiriyya order and the Senegalese Laayeen order, which is popular among the coastal Lebu, are two other Islamic organizations. Most Senegalese youngsters now spend many years studying in daaras, memorizing as much of the Qur’an as they can. Some of them continue their religious education in majlis (councils) or the increasing number of private Arabic schools and officially sponsored Franco-Arabic institutions. The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, a contemporary messianic group in Islam, is also present in the nation, accounting for around 1% of the Muslim population.

Small Roman Catholic communities may be found mostly among the coastal Serer, Jola, Mankanya, and Balant people, as well as among the Bassari and Coniagui in eastern Senegal. Immigrants mostly attend Protestant churches, although in the second part of the twentieth century, Protestant churches headed by Senegalese pastors of other ethnic groups emerged. Catholic and Protestant rituals are performed in Dakar by Lebanese, Cape Verdean, European, and American immigrants, as well as some Africans from other countries and Senegalese themselves. Despite the fact that Islam is the predominant religion in Senegal, Léopold Sédar Senghor, the country’s first president, was a Catholic Serer.

Serer religion includes belief in a supreme god known as Roog (Koox among the Cangin), Serer cosmogony, cosmology, and divination rituals such as the Serer Saltigues’ yearly Xoy (or Khoye) ceremony (high priests and priestesses). Muslim holidays in Senegal and Gambia, such as Tobaski, Gamo, Koriteh, Weri Kor, and others, are all derived from the Serer faith. They were ancient Serer celebrations that had their roots in Serer religion rather than Islam.

The Boukout is a religious ceremony performed by the Jola.

Judaism and Buddhism have a limited number of followers. Several ethnic groups practice Judaism, whereas a significant number of Vietnamese practice Buddhism. The Bahá’ Faith in Senegal was founded when ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, the religion’s founder’s son, identified Africa as a location where Bahá’s should go more widely. In 1953, the first Bahá’s came in the French West African region that would become Senegal. Senegal’s first Bahá’ Local Spiritual Assembly was elected in Dakar in 1966. The first National Spiritual Assembly of Senegal was elected by the Bahá’ community in 1975. The most current estimate, published in a 2005 study by the Association of Religion Data Archives, puts the number of Bahá’s in Senegal at 22,000.

Entry Requirements For Senegal

Visa & Passport

All EU citizens, Benin, Brazil, Burkina Faso, Canada, Cape Verde, China, Republic of the Congo, Côte d’Ivoire, Djibouti, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, India, Japan, Kenya, Liberia, Malaysia, Mali, Mauritania, Mauritius, Morocco, Niger, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Singapore, South Korea, Togo, Tunisia are exempt from the visa requirement. Citizens of other nations must acquire a visa in advance from the Senegalese mission in their home country.

How To Travel To Senegal

Get In - By plane

Delta Air Lines travels to Dakar on the majority of its US-Africa routes; the flight time from Atlanta and JFK airport is about 8 hours. In little over 7 hours, South African Airways flies straight from New York and Washington-Dulles (8.5 on the return trip). Brussels Carriers (Brussels), Air Senegal International (Paris-Orly), Air France (Paris-CDG), Alitalia (Milan), Royal Air Maroc (Casablanca), Iberia (Madrid, Gran Canaria), TAP (Lisbon), and more airlines fly across Europe (5.5 to 6 hours). Virgin Nigeria (Lagos), Kenya Airways (Nairobi), Air Ivoire (Abidjan), and others operate flights from different regions of Africa.

Get In - By car

Getting into Senegal by vehicle is feasible, although it is a little tricky. Senegal bans the entry of vehicles older than eight years, but if you are only staying for a short time and promise to remove your car out of the nation, you should (eventually) be permitted to enter, but this cannot be guaranteed.

According to Senegal’s customs, vehicles older than five years have been permitted to be imported again since 2008.

Get In - By train

As of 2012, a railway between Dakar and Bamako, Mali, has fallen into disrepair and is no longer operational. In the 2000s, the line was repaired (albeit most of it was original track from about 1918) and operated using secondhand carriages/locomotives from India, but service became irregular by the end of the decade, and the operator went bankrupt. For both passengers and cargo, the trains exclusively operate inside Dakar to the suburbs.

How To Travel Around Senegal

Taxi, taxi-brousse, taxi-clando, car-charette, and public transportation are all examples of taxis (cars rapides) SOTRAC (Société des Transports en commun de Cap Vert) maintains bus routes in and around Dakar, which is currently operated by a private business named Dakar Demm Dikk. Car rental is offered in Dakar (city and airport), as well as MBour and Saly Portudal on occasion. 

The most common mode of transportation throughout the nation is via sept places (from the French for “seven seats,” literally dubious station wagons in which you are essentially riding on the lap of the next person for the whole of the trip). You may also bring a party and hire out the whole sept, although this would be costly. They will attempt to rip you off if you are clearly a tourist, so be careful to negotiate a price before agreeing to a driver. To frequently visited sites, there are fixed rates. For example, a ticket from Dakar to Ziguinchor costs XOF9,500.

If you want to drive your own vehicle, keep in mind that there are few traffic signs (mainly speed restrictions) and nearly all of them are ignored. Many streets are one-way, although they are seldom designated as such, and there are few stop signs. Heavy traffic regions, such as Dakar, are better left to the brave and experienced drivers. To move around, one must be willing to dash into traffic or risk being stopped for a long time at an intersection.

A new tollway near Dakar has just opened, allowing you to travel around Rufisque. This is well worth the XOF400 (for a normal vehicle) especially at peak hours, when traffic bottlenecks in Rufisque may easily last two hours.

Destinations in Senegal

Cities in Senegal

  • Dakar: Capital city
  • Saint-Louis: Former capital of Senegal and French West Africa
  • Thiès:
  • Kaolack:
  • Ziguinchor:
  • Tambacounda:
  • Touba: Center of Mouride religious brotherhood
  • Kafountine:
  • Kedougou:

Other destinations in Senegal

  • Ports and harbors – Matam, Podor, Richard Toll, Dakar, Palmarin
  • Places of religion and contemplation – Keur Moussa, Touba, Tivaouane
  • Interesting Islands – Fadiout + Joal, Ile de Gorée, Karabane
  • Nature reserves – Niokolo-Koba, Delta du Saloum, Parc National des oiseaux du Djoudj, Reserve de Palmarin
  • Stone circles

Food & Drinks in Senegal

Food made on the road should be avoided since it may have been cooked in unclean circumstances. Western-style dinners are accessible in restaurants across Dakar, Thies, Saint Louis, and other cities, as well as near the major hotels on the Petite Côte and other touristic areas of the country.

If you truly want to taste authentic Senegalese cuisine, you may purchase it at restaurants that specialize in Senegalese cuisine, or you can cook it yourself using ingredients collected fresh from markets or supermarkets.

Ceebu jen (or thebou diene) is Senegal’s national cuisine, which consists of rice and fish. There are two types of it (red and white — named for the different sauces). The Senegalese adore ceebu jen and will often inquire whether you’ve tasted it; it’s an essential element of the experience. Even better if you get to have a meal with a Senegalese family while eating with your hands around the bowl!

Keep your eyes out for the delectable ceebu jen “diagga,” which comes with additional sauce and fish balls. Maafe, a thick, fatty peanut-based sauce with meat served over white rice, is another popular meal. “Yassa” is a delectable onion sauce that is often served with rice and chicken (“Yassa poulet”) or deep-fried fish (“Yassa Jen”).

If you want to visit Senegal’s dry region (Saint-Louis and Ferlo), you’ll need to drink several liters of water each day. Dehydration is occur even in Dakar during the hotter months if you do not drink enough water each day.

Money & Shopping in Senegal

Senegal uses the West African CFA franc (XOF). Benin, Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Guinea-Bissau, Mali, Niger, and Togo all use it. While technically distinct from the Central African CFA franc (XAF), the two currencies are used interchangeably at par in all nations that utilize the CFA franc (XAF & XOF).

The French Treasury backs both CFA francs, which are linked to the euro at €1 = XOF655.957.

Traditions & Customs in Senegal

Senegal’s main religion is Islam, and the majority of Senegalese are devoted Muslims. It’s crucial to respect this since religion is very significant in Senegalese culture. However, don’t be scared to inquire about Islam; Senegalese people, for the most part, like discussing it!

When entering a room, greet everyone with “Salaam Aleikum.” Always extend a handshake to everyone. Shoes should not be worn inside mosques or other sacred buildings.

Senegalese males are likely to approach foreign women with many marriage offers. Take it in stride and with a sense of fun.

In terms of attire, anything lower than knee length is considered improper. Tank tops are often worn in bigger cities, but they should be avoided as much as possible in smaller communities.

Culture Of Senegal

Senegal is well-known for its West African storytelling tradition, which is carried out by griots, who have used words and music to keep West African history alive for thousands of years. Years of training and apprenticeship in genealogy, history, and music are required for the griot vocation, which is handed down from generation to generation. Generations of West African culture have a voice thanks to griots.

The African Renaissance Monument in Dakar, which was completed in 2010, is Africa’s highest monument. Recidak, a film festival, is held in Dakar.


Senegal is well-known for its West African storytelling tradition, which is carried out by griots, who have used words and music to keep West African history alive for thousands of years. Years of training and apprenticeship in genealogy, history, and music are required for the griot vocation, which is handed down from generation to generation. Generations of West African culture have a voice thanks to griots.

The African Renaissance Monument in Dakar, which was completed in 2010, is Africa’s highest monument. Recidak, a film festival, is held in Dakar.


Senegal is well-known for its West African storytelling tradition, which is carried out by griots, who have used words and music to keep West African history alive for thousands of years. Years of training and apprenticeship in genealogy, history, and music are required for the griot vocation, which is handed down from generation to generation. Generations of West African culture have a voice thanks to griots.

The African Renaissance Monument in Dakar, which was completed in 2010, is Africa’s highest monument. Recidak, a film festival, is held in Dakar.


In principle, hospitality is valued so highly in Senegalese society that it is generally seen as a component of the country’s identity. The Wolof term “teranga” means “hospitality,” and it is so closely associated with Senegal’s pride that the national football club is known as the Lions of Teranga.



Wrestling is the most popular sport in Senegal, and it has turned into a national obsession. It is the only sport acknowledged as having evolved outside of Western culture, and it has historically helped many young men overcome poverty.


In Senegal, football is a popular sport. The squad placed second in the Africa Cup of Nations in 2002 and went on to become one of only three African teams to ever reach the FIFA World Cup quarter-finals, beating holders France in their first game. El-Hadji Diouf, Papa Bouba Diop, Khalilou Fadiga, and Henri Camara, all of whom played in Europe, were members of this squad.


In Senegal, basketball is also a popular sport. The country has long been regarded as one of Africa’s most powerful basketball nations. At the 2014 FIBA World Cup, the men’s team outperformed every other African country, making the playoffs for the first time. At 20 African Championships, the women’s team won 19 medals, more than twice as much as any other rival.

Stay Safe & Healthy in Senegal

Stay Safe in Senegal

Fighting continues in Senegal’s Casamance area, despite being greatly exaggerated.

The administration and the MFDC (Mouvement des Forces Démocratiques de la Casamance) are in a “fight.” It might be prudent to avoid visiting this region. If this isn’t feasible, at the very least, verify with the embassy for the most up-to-date information. 

When traversing the streets of Dakar, be wary of petty thievery and con artists. Aggressive street sellers will approach you and follow you for many blocks. When non-local, non-buyers are denied, charges of “racist” are often hurled at them. Pickpockets also use a two-person strategy in which one (the distraction) grabs one of your legs while the other (the thief) enters your pocket. If someone takes your belongings, be very wary of the person on the opposite side. Wear pants/shorts with secure pockets (buttons or snaps) and an untucked shirt to hide your pockets.

People who claim to have met you previously or promise to advise you should be avoided. You will often be taken to a secluded place and robbed. Women should be especially vigilant while visiting beaches or marketplaces, since they are often targeted.

Finally, there have been reports of street stall sellers snatching money from non-local customers and putting it into their own pockets. They claim ownership of the money after it has been placed in their pocket, and the victim is unable to show otherwise or successfully resist. When negotiating, be cautious with your money and don’t keep it in your hand.

Make sure you have some kind of identification with you at all times. Occasionally, police may stop cars and inspect them for appropriate documentation. If you are discovered without your passport (a copy is suggested), the police may attempt to extort a bribe from you or possibly transport you to the police station. While most of the time they are bluffing and it is best not to fall prey to such corruption, certain authorities may be so evil as to do so. Take this advise with a grain of salt. Carrying identification is the easiest method to avoid this.

Homosexuality is a major taboo in Senegal, with sentences ranging from one to five years in jail. Travelers who identify as LGBT should use great caution. Do not reveal your sexual orientation to anybody!

Stay Healthy in Senegal

Before you arrive, be sure you have all of the required vaccinations. Although confirmation of yellow fever vaccination is needed upon arrival if traveling from a yellow fever-endemic country, it is not routinely verified.

Antimalarials should be taken.

Tap water, as well as any meals made with it, should be avoided. Bottled water, such as Kirene, which is readily accessible and cheap in Senegal, is extensively available.

It is a good idea to carry along packets of rehydration salts to mix with water if you get dehydrated. These are commonly accessible and cheap at pharmacies. These may be replaced by a suitable mixture of table salt and sugar.



South America


North America

Read Next


Dakar, Senegal’s capital and biggest city, is often considered as the cultural and economic heart of French-speaking West Africa. The metropolitan area has a...