Senegal Explorer Tour
Senegal Explorer Tour
Explore Senegal on this 9 day journey where we unveil a tapestry of historical gems with tales of antiquity and cultural prominence.
Our tour commences in Dakar, the vibrant heartbeat of Senegal, where history and intellect have intertwined since eras preceding independence. Venturing forth, we set foot upon Gorée Island, an enclave that resonates with poignant echoes of the past, as it was once pivotal in the harrowing transatlantic slave trade. Our tour continues as we discover Saint Louis, the erstwhile bastion of French West African governance during the colonial times.
Venturing into the vast expanse of the northern savannah, we will encounter the world of nomadic herders. Here, we are embraced by the largest African brotherhood, dedicated to the pursuit of a serene Islam that steadfastly shuns all shades of fundamentalism and discord.
This expedition is not confined solely to history and culture, as we explore an incredible variety of natural environments such desert dunes, savannah, estuaries, forest and mangrove swamps. Birds will be a constant presence along the whole journey and when we visit Djoudj National Sanctuary, you will discover why it is considered by many as best bird sanctuary in the world!
Day 1 – Welcome to Senegal
On arrival at Blaise Diagne International Airport, you will be met be a representative and transferred to the capital, Dakar. The airport is about 25 miles from down-town Dakar, and your hotel for the evening.
Overnight at Hotel Djoloff or similar
Day 2 - Dakar and Gorée
We start the day with an exploration of Dakar, the large and vibrant metropolis that was the cultural and intellectual capital of French West Africa. We will visit the Musée des Civilisations Noirs. Opened in December 2018, it is the realization of Léopold Sédar Senghor’s vision (the first president of independent Senegal, a poet, and Nobel Prize winner). The museum represents the historical and contemporary worldwide cultures, art, and soul of Black people, which he called Negritude. We will also see the Cathédrale Notre Dame des Victoires and Place de Souvenirs. The project to build the cathedral was started in 1910 and was consecrated on 2 February 1936. Our day continues as we travel to the port to board a ferry. We will be spending the night in Gorée, the island where slaves used to be housed before being shipped to the Americas. There are some restored buildings remaining that bear witness of those times.
The Portuguese were the first to establish a presence on Gorée in 1450, where they built a small stone chapel. After the decline of the slave trade from Senegal in the 1770s and 1780s, the island became an important port for the shipment of peanuts, Arabic gum, ivory, and other products of a much more legitimate trade. Thanks to the nice breeze and the many restaurants and shops, Gorée is today a pleasant and quite trendy location. In the late afternoon and evening, when the other tourists are gone, we will experience the real feeling of this special island.
Overnight at hotels in Gorée. Due to limited accommodation, the group may be split into different locations. (BLD)
Day 3 - Lac Rose and Fisherman Villages
An early morning start in Gorée before the crowd arrives is a pleasure, with time to stroll along the tiny stone-paved alleys of this historical settlement. We then take the ferry back to Dakar and drive to Lac Rose, a shallow saltwater lake surrounded by dunes, also known as Lac Retba. An exciting drive along the beach using 4x4 vehicles (depending on tides) will bring us to the largest fisherman village in Senegal. Here we will find more than 4500 wooden painted pirogues that come to the shore with the catch of the day. On the beach, the fishermen will be selling their catch to the women from the local markets. Later we meet the artisans carving the large pirogues, the painters decorating them with bright colours, and if we are lucky the “local saint” who gives a final blessing before sailing.
Overnight at the Hotel Le Trarza or similar (BLD)
(Distances travelled today 100 km / driving time 3 hrs.)
Day 4 - Saint Louis
Saint Louis, known to locals as Ndar, is a charming ancient town that was a French territory from 1673 until 1895. It was the capital of all French West Africa colonies from 1895 until 1902 when the capital was moved to Dakar. From 1920 to 1957, it also served as the capital of the neighbouring colony of Mauritania. Saint Louis is located on two islands between the Senegal River and the ocean at the southern edge of the Sahara. It is rich with history, culture, geography, and architecture. Saint-Louis is seen as a bridge between the savanna and the desert, the ocean, the river, and the inland, between tradition and modernity, Islam and Christianity, Europe and Africa.
The city and its people have a unique identity. "No one comes without falling in love with the city," its people are proud to tell you. They also consider Saint-Louis as the birthplace of Senegalese Teranga, the Wolof word for hospitability. We explore the narrow lanes of Saint Louis by calash, just as locals do, and walk in the fisherman’s quarters. There will be time to stroll in the tiny avenues and enjoy the unique atmosphere of this old town. Our tour will spend the night a historic hotel in the town, built in 1895 and now fully renovated, it was here that all the Aeropostale pilots used to stay.
Overnight at the Hotel de la Poste or similar (BLD)
(Distances travelled today 210 km /driving time 5 hrs.)
Day 5 - Djoudj National Bird Sanctuary and the Ferlo Desert
We have an early morning departure northward to discover the Djoudj National Bird Sanctuary (Parc National des Oiseaux du Djoudj). This is a natural oasis formed by hundreds of miles of partially flooded land that has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Located between the Sahara and Ferlo desert it is the habitat and nesting site for over a million migratory and resident birds. Out of more than 400 species, pelicans and flamingos are the most common, whereas aquatic warblers are a bit less conspicuous as they migrate here from Europe. Djoudj National Bird Sanctuary is their single most important wintering site yet discovered. Apart from birds, there is also a wide range of wildlife such as warthogs and crocodiles. We will take a motorboat excursion led by a local guide-ornithologist.
Depending on the season and taking into consideration the time of migrations and level of water, the visit to Djoudj may be replaced by a similar experience in Langue de Barbarie. This is a thin, sandy peninsula, adjacent to the Atlantic Ocean, located in western Senegal. The peninsula separates the ocean from the final section of the Senegal River and Langue de Barbarie National Park is home to an abundant variety of bird species and three species of turtle.
In the afternoon, we will continue to the Ferlo Desert and explore the arid region where nomadic Fulani tribes herd large herds of zebu. The Fulani (also called Peul) are the largest nomadic tribe roaming the West African Savannahs, living in a vast area from Senegal to Chad. The origins of the tribe are still shrouded in mystery. In the afternoon a local guide will join us for a visit to the neighbouring villages and shelters. When the herds come back, we might even be invited to witness the milking process.
Overnight in a camp made up of simple grass huts, managed by a local entrepreneur (all rooms with beds, mosquito nets, en-suite). (BLD)
(Distances travelled today 150 km / driving time 4 hrs.)
Day 6 – The Tuba Brotherhood
The arrival of Western travellers is an unusual event in the sacred city of Tuba. This Holy city is almost a state within a state. The founder was a Sufi named Amhadou Bàmba Mbake and the inhabitants follow the Muridi movement, which still has a great social and economic impact in Senegal. It will therefore be necessary to follow some simple rules. Smoking, wearing provocative clothes, drinking alcohol and listening to music are not allowed during the visit. We will abide by these rules and we wil be very well received. The Muridi are proud of their city and will appreciate our interest in visiting it.
Overnight at Relais de Kaolak or similar (BLD)
(Todays distances are 240 km / driving time 5 hrs.)
Day 7 - Kaolack to Sine Saloum
The journey continues through Senegal as we transfer to Sine Saloum. This is a region of Senegal located north of the Gambia and south of the Petite Côte. It comprises an area of 24,000 square kilometres, about 12 percent of Senegal. The western part of the region contains the Saloum Delta and home to the Saloum Delta National Park, designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2011. Birds are abundant in this reserve, harbouring species like the dwarf flamingo, goliath heron and dimorph egret. There are also some 36 mammal species, including warthogs, spotted hyenas, and red colobus monkeys.
Overnight at the Ecolodge Simal or similar (BLD)
(Travelling today is 150 km / driving time 4 h)
Day 8 – Explore Sine Saloum
Today we take a private boat excursion to explore Sine Saloum. We will visit the mangroves and discover many bird species in their natural habitat, as well as learning about the reforestation programs, put in place to protect this region.
Overnight at the Ecolodge Simal or similar (BLD)
Day 9 – Return to Dakar
Leaving Sine Saloum, we begin the journey back to Dakar. We stop at Joal-Fadiouth, two villages connected by a bridge. Fadiouth was built on seashells, which are also used for building construction and decoration. Even the cemetery, which is located on one of the islands, is made of seashells. Here you will find Muslim and Christian graves next to each other. Our tour makes its way to Bandia Reserve where we hope to have time for a short safari drive. You may see a wide range of animals including white rhinoceros, zebra, giraffes, buffalo, Cape eland, oryx, roan antelope, greater kudu, impala, red-fronted gazelle, patas monkeys, green monkeys, jackals and mongoose. In the evening, we will transfer to the airport for your departure flight. There are day use rooms are available until 6:00 p.m. (BL) (Distance traveller today are 120 km / driving time 3 h)
Get in touch with Our Local Tour to book the Senegal Explorer Tour
2024 Departure Dates
This is a private tour can be ran at anytime throughout the year.
Price per person - £1995 (based on FOUR travelling and sharing two double/twin rooms)
Price per person - £2895 (based on TWO travelling and sharing a room)
Single Supplement - £225
Included in the Senegal Explorer Tour
Not Included in the Senegal Explorer Tour
Government Travel Safety Advice
We strongly recommend that you check your government's travel advisory for up-to-date information and advice about your destination: safety and security, entry requirements, health, local laws and customs. For UK citizens, check the latest Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office advice. Please refer to the COVID-19 entry requirements page for any country-specific conditions of entry.
Visa and Passport Information
It is your responsibility to ensure that you are in possession of a full passport, valid for at least six months after the date of return to your country. We strongly advise that your passport contains a minimum of two blank pages, as this may be a requirement of the local immigration authorities. In addition certain countries will stipulate that the two blank pages are opposite each other. If you are unable to meet these requirements you may be refused boarding by your airline or denied entry by the immigration authorities. For specific information about the requirements for your destination please check with the country’s embassy or consulate.
UK passport holders don’t need a visa to travel to Senegal. If you intend to stay in Senegal for longer than 3 months, you’ll need to register with the local authorities in order to obtain a ‘Carte d’étranger’. You should do this after your arrival in Senegal. You may be refused entry if you don’t have evidence of return or onward travel. Check whether you need a yellow fever certificate by visiting the National Travel Health Network and Centre’s TravelHealthPro website.
Local Laws and Custom
Local laws reflect the fact that Senegal is a predominantly Muslim country. You should respect local traditions, customs, laws and religions at all times and be aware of your actions so that they don’t offend others, especially during the holy month of Ramadan or if you intend to visit religious areas.
You should dress and behave modestly in public outside the main tourist areas. Bars and restaurants usually serve alcoholic drinks but drunkenness is considered offensive, and penalties for drink driving are severe. Kissing as a greeting is acceptable but kissing romantically in public is not.
Penalties for possession, use or trafficking of illegal drugs are severe. Convicted offenders can expect lengthy jail sentences and heavy fines.
Homosexual activity is illegal and not tolerated in Senegal’s conservative society. Travelers should be aware that discrimination of LGBT people is frequent. Open displays of homosexuality should be avoided while in the country.
At least 8 weeks before your trip, check the latest country-specific health advice from the National Travel Health Network and Centre (NaTHNaC) on the TravelHealthPro website. Each country-specific page has information on vaccine recommendations, any current health risks or outbreaks, and factsheets with information on staying healthy abroad. Guidance is also available from NHS (Scotland) on the FitForTravel website.
The legal status and regulation of some medicines prescribed or purchased in the UK can be different in other countries. If you’re travelling with prescription or over-the-counter medicine, read this guidance from NaTHNaC on best practice when travelling with medicines.
Health facilities in Dakar are reasonable but are limited in the rest of Senegal. Make sure you have adequate travel health insurance and accessible funds to cover the cost of any medical treatment abroad and repatriation.
Malaria, Dengue fever and other tropical diseases are common in Senegal, especially during the rainy season (June-September). You should take steps to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes. There are occasional outbreaks of cholera.
UK health authorities have classified Senegal as having a risk of Zika virus transmission. For information and advice about the risks associated with Zika virus, visit the National Travel Health Network and Centre website
The UNAIDS 2018 Report on the Global AIDS Epidemic estimates the prevalence percentage of HIV in Senegal as at around 0.4% of adults aged between 15 and 49 years, compared to the prevalence percentage in adults in the UK of around 0.25%. You should exercise normal precautions to avoid exposure to HIV/AIDS.
What to bring on the Senegal Explorer Tour
Senegal is very warm in general and so light cotton clothes are generally a good idea. You should also bring a hat as the sun is very strong here, even in the winter. In general, shorts are acceptable, although there may be occasions when it is appropriate to where long trousers. Long trousers also provide better protection against insects and are recommended for nature walks. Remember to bringing your swimsuit if you wish to use the swimming pools at the hotels.
The ideal footwear would be walking shoes or boots along with a pair of sandals.
Luggage while on your tour
Please allow yourself one main piece of luggage and a day-sack. Remember, you are expected to carry your own baggage, so don't overload yourself, a soft wheely bag may be easier to manage than a suit case.
We recommend a high factor sun cream/sunblock . Insect repellent, including a bite spray will also be useful to have. Please also take a torch or flashlight for poorly lit areas or for any unexpected electricity outages.
The currency in Senegal is the CFA franc (XOF). Avoid exchanging large quantities of CFA francs for foreign currency anywhere other than reputable exchange bureaus. ATMs are widespread and reliable in Dakar but banking facilities are infrequent in the rest of the country, and withdrawal limits may be quite low. Credit cards are accepted in larger establishments that cater for tourists. Commission is often added for their use.
Weather in Senegal
The climate in Senegal is very warm, with an annual average of 35 degrees, but has few truly tropical and sticky months. It is warm to hot all year round, inviting bathing at average water temperatures of 25 degrees. The best time of year to visit Senegal is during the dry season which is between November and May. The climate then is mild, with it being not too hot, but also with not too much rain.
The country code for Senegal is +221. The outgoing code is 00 followed by the relevant country code (e.g. 0044 for the United Kingdom). Travellers can purchase local prepaid SIM cards for unlocked phones; WiFi is available in most hotels and restaurants in Dakar and larger cities but may be harder to find in rural parts of the country.
In Senegal the power plug sockets are of type C, D, E and K. The standard voltage is 230 V and the frequency is 50 Hz.