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.