Senegal

High-rise hotels, mosques and mud huts, pink salt lakes and white sandy beaches, big game and Baobab trees, camel rides, desert rallies and more music than you could shake a microphone at. Making sense of Senegal is tricky, finding the time to take it all in even more so.

Just a short jaunt from the frenetic Senegalese capital of Dakar, life on the Île de Gorée couldn't be quieter. Today, the island's terracotta mansions doze under garlands of scarlet bougainvillea and soporific palms line the traffic-free streets.

Yet this UNESCO World Heritage Site hides a dark historical legacy. Gorée was conceived as a slave trading post and the island still bears the scars in its two harrowing museums.

Senegal acts as an ecological buffer zone between verdant equatorial Africa and the arid Sahara Desert. Consequently it hosts a version of just about every ecosystem on the continent, from big game in the eastern parks to dolphins that playfully chase the bow-waves of dug-out canoes amid the lagoons and mangrove swamps of the Siné-Saloum Delta.

Unmissables

  • Time your visit to Djoudj National Park with the arrival of huge numbers of migrating birds
  • Bask on some of the continent's best beaches around Cap Skiring
  • Kayak among mangroves and villages on the Casamance River
  • Take a guided trek to find the animist mountain tribe, the Bédiks
  • Escape Dakar to the isle which time forgot, Gorée Island