As seen in USA TODAY College:
7 sites in Senegal you won’t want to miss
By McKenzie Powell, Ohio University July 2, 2015 10:30 am
Senegal attracts tourists and world travelers alike with its rich colonial past and stunning scenery.
The country, which is situated in West Africa near Mauritania and Mali, has a vast history involving French intervention and colonization and is also remembered for its impactful participation in events like the Transatlantic Slave Trade.
Senegal has several unforgettable sites that no traveler will want to miss – from soaking up sun rays on exotic islands to visiting historical monuments and towns that embody the past and present of the predominately Muslim, francophone country.
Dakar is Senegal’s capital and largest city. It’s well known for its congested traffic, entertaining nightlife and open-air markets. Within Dakar, visitors can find an abundance of fruits sold at every corner and beautiful, calming beaches perfect for an afternoon getaway.
Dakar is also home to Le Monument de la Renaissance Africaine, a strikingly large statue of a man, woman and her child overlooking the city and the Atlantic Ocean. According to former president of Senegal, Abdoulaye Wade, the monument represents African liberation and revival. The African Renaissance Monument sits on a hill directly across from Phare des Mamelles, Dakar’s grand lighthouse.
Lac Rose, or Lake Retba, is an interesting pink lake located just a short distance away from Dakar on the Grande Côte. It is a relatively small body of water that contains excess amounts of salt, similar to the Dead Sea.
The natural pink color is caused by Dunaliella salina, a bacteria that absorbs sunlight by actively producing red pigment. In order to see the lake’s most vibrant color, it is advised to visit the lake during the dry season on a sunny, windless day. Guests are allowed to swim, lay on the beach, or take a boat ride through the pinkish red waters.
L’ÎLE DE GORÉE
L’île de Gorée, or Gorée Island, is a famous UNESCO World Heritage site located just off the coast of Senegal. Gorée is a large tourist attraction due to its outstanding role in the Transatlantic Slave Trade. According to the UNESCO World Heritage Centre, Gorée Island was the largest leading slave-trading center throughout the coast of Africa from the 15th to 19th century.
Visiting Gorée Island can be shocking and upsetting. But the saddening experience is contrasted by undeniably picturesque landscapes and architecture. Guests can tour the entire island, including the House of Slaves museum, memorial and Gorée Island castle.
GRANDE MOSQUÉE DE TOUBA
The Grande Mosquée de Touba, or the Great Mosque of Touba, overlooks the sacred city of Touba. This fascinating mosque holds the tomb of Cheikh Ahmadou Bamba, a Senegalese religious leader who founded the Mouride Brotherhood of Senegal.
ÎLE DE NGOR
The gorgeous Ngor Island is located just a short distance away from the coast of Dakar. It’s bursting with tranquil sites and a soothing beach. Many talented artists can be spotted throughout the island selling items ranging from masks to tapestries.
Visitors can rent out houses and rooms for short-term stays on Ngor and may also lodge at the Ngor Island Surf Camp House after catching some waves.
DÉSERT DE LOMPOUL
The Lompoul desert is one of Senegal’s most gorgeous sites, mimicking a landscape similar to that of the Mauritanian desert. Along with its scenic sand dunes and camel rides, you may even be surprised with some musical entertainment complete with drums and dancing after dinner.
After a long day spent sliding down the sand dunes, some rest and relaxation is in order. Many visitors opt to go glamping — short for glamour camping — in tents complete with beds, private outdoor toilets and showers.
Saint-Louis, an island that rests on the Senegal River across from the border of Mauritania, is another one of the country’s most popular UNESCO World Heritage sites. It was the capital to both Senegal and L’Afrique-Occidentale française, or French West Africa, during French colonization.
Saint-Louis is distinguished by its colonial-era architecture and French cultural and educational influences. Because it is a relatively touristy area, a variety of tours, hotels and small-scale shopping are readily available.