Dakar City Tour
Some capital cities on the African continent are hit and miss, but I thought Dakar was definitely worth allocating half a day. There's plenty to see, but the points of interest are spread out, so you'll definitely need a taxi. In my opinion, the top spots are Dakar Cathedral, The Grand Mosque, Dakar Railway Station, Mosque of the Divinity, and Obelisk Square. In addition, there's some impressive street art around the university campus area.
A tiny island off the coast of Dakar that's easily reachable via ferry in under 20 minutes is Goree Island. This place played a major role in the Atlantic slave trade during the 15th-19th century. On the island itself, there's narrow streets lined with colonial buildings, as well as remains from past conflict. The House of the Slaves is one of the highlights, as well as various view points. The ferries operate multiple times a day, so you have flexibility with how long you want to stay for.
Lake Retba, referred to as the "Pink Lake" is a great spot, but does seem to differ greatly throughout the year regarding the level of pink. It's located 30km North East of the capital and easily reachable via road. The colour of the lake is due to a combination of salina algae and high salt content. There are locals dotted around the lake that will happily take you on a short boat ride for a small fee. You will also see workers gathering the salt from the base of the lake onto small boats. It's a tough job in hot conditions for minimal pay, so I had huge admiration for the workers.
The Great Mosque of Touba
Touba is a city reachable within a couple of hours from Dakar via surprisingly good roads. Religion aside, The Great Mosque of Touba is truly spectacular from an architectural perspective. You'll find local volunteers at the who will gladly help you with a full tour of the mosque. Construction started in 1887 and completed in 1963. Obviously mosques differ greatly with new and old, but this is definitely one of the more impressive ones I've seen on the continent.
African Renaissance Monument
At 49 meters tall, this is both the largest and tallest monument on continental Africa (as of 2020). The monument opened to the public on 4th April 2010, which is both Senegal National Day and the anniversary of 50 years of independence. Located on a 100 meter high hill overlooking the Atlantic Ocean and is a popular meet point for the locals. Impressive from the outside, but worth noting that there's also an observation deck, which can be reached via elevator for a 10 Euro fee. As you'd expect, there's also a museum which drills down on details of the design and construction, which was surprisingly via. a North Korean firm.
Saint Louis Overnight Trip
Saint Louis is a city known for its colonial architecture and offers an authentic visit into local Senegalese everyday life. The city is actually an island that's linked to the mainland by Faidherbe Bridge, which was designed by Gustave Eiffel. I would definitely recommend a horse and carriage ride around the city. It's the perfect setting to snap away with your camera along the colourful streets. You can then take a stroll along the waterfront for more colonial buildings and watch the local fishermen hard at work via their colourful dow boats. Due to the distance, I'd recommend an overnight visit to fully embrace what this city has to offer.
The Westernmost Point of Continental Africa
Perhaps a spot more for the geeky travellers, but Senegal boasts the westernmost point of continental Africa. You can reach the site easily enough via Googlemaps, although don't be fooled by locals telling you that the jetty is the westernmost point. Bonus if you're into abandoned locations, as there's a derelict hotel. The location is close to Almadies, which is a popular dining district, so it's worth combining the two.
There's a whole host of hotels in Dakar, so I've decided to recommend one in Saint-Louis. I had a great stay at Hotel Du Palais, which is in the centre of the city. The colonial building gives you a feeling of stepping back in time, but without compromising on facilities. The rooms are spacious with balconies overlooking the streets, as well as an on-site restaurant. Worth noting that the WiFi signal isn't the best.
Senegal is home to some of the best food across West Africa, so you'll find no shortage of options. My top pick is Noflaye Beach, which is a restaurant located in the Almadies area of Dakar. It's a beachfront location offering huge seafood platters and is a great spot to watch the sunset. Given the quality of the food, it's relatively inexpensive and has a good selection of local beer.
If you're looking for a local to driver/guide whilst in Senegal, I can positively recommend Amadou, who can be reached via Whatsapp on +221 776 314874. He's responsive, speaks great English, offers fair pricing, and is used by many of the larger tour companies, so is used to handling large groups. In addition, he can also assist with transport to neighbouring countries, such as The Gambia.