After eight weeks of classes and one week of orientation, Fall Break is finally upon us! At least, it was two days ago. As much I have loved my classes here in Senegal, it has been really nice to explore more of Dakar and relax before I head into my internship in my village.
Some of the places I’ve been able to explore are places I’ve been to before, while some of them are new discoveries. Here is my reviews for each place, so if you’re ever in Dakar, check them out!
Île de Ngor
This Saturday, four friends and I went to Île de Ngor, which I have been to once before. To get there, you have to take a pirogue or a private boat. The pirogue is 1000 CFA (~$2 USD), while the private boat is 2500 CFA (~$5 USD). Both of these options were super cheap, but we chose to go with the pirogue. It’s about a ten minute boat ride and we were dropped off on the main beach that houses many restaurants and a hotel right on the beach.
We opted to go exploring first and walked around the island. The views of the ocean are absolutely gorgeous no matter what point of the island you are at.
Additionally, there’s several residential houses on the island that area beautifully constructed and decorated. There’s even a school we passed by that was painted like a boat.
We just happened to come by at the time that the kids were coming out, so we had a chance to use our Wolof language skills to talk with them.
There’s two beaches that you can swim at, although there might be more that we didn’t discover.
Both beaches are essentially right next to each other, but are separated by a house in between them.
Voile D’Or (Monaco Beach)
I came here with one of my friends on Sunday and we LOVED this beach! The area is Voile D’Or, but it’s also referred to as Monaco Beach.
We paid 2000 CFA to get in, but it was well worth the price, because we were able to put our stuff under a palm tree and go swim without worrying about someone taking it. It was a super clean beach and wasn’t super crowded in the morning, although it did start to get crowded in the afternoon. Many families brought picnics and fruit while they were at the beach, so if there is a next time, I would love to bring a watermelon and some snacks!
Île de Madeleine
This is a national park in Senegal that is known for its beauty and the wildlife that calls it home. The cost was 5000 CFA (~$10 CFA) for boat ride with 5000 CFA tour for the whole group. We departed on a 20 minute pirogue ride from Soumbedioune, the fish market. Once we got close to the island, we were able to see the rock formations that were present throughout the island, which were breathtaking.
And the water surrounding the island were beautiful shades of blue.
On the island, there are many baobab trees, in which Phaetons, the birds, make their nests.
No humans live on the island and human activity is prohibited on and around it, because of the spirits that move throughout the island and are unwelcoming of it. You’re also not supposed to take anything from the island as well, because bad luck will come upon you. There are even two shipwrecks that can be seen from one of the cliffs from ships that have run aground on the island.
At the end of our tour, we were able to swim in the place where our pirogue docked in a beautiful natural pool.
The water was freezing, but against the hot sun, it felt really nice. We were on the island for a long time, because they had to wait on the right time for the tide in order to bring the boat in. This is probably one of the prettiest places I’ve been to in Dakar!
The American Food Store
Located in the Almadies, this store is the place where you can get all your American food needs. From pancake mix to sodas to candy to even fruit, it’s very overwhelming when you haven’t seen these products in two months at least. I bought some skittles to bring back to my host family!
After going to the American Food Store, we wandered down towards the coast and found a place where we could walk on the rocks alongside the ocean.
There’s tons of oceanfront restaurants along the shore and even a few surf schools. We were able to watch a bunch of people learn to take on the waves as we walked past.
It was a beautiful view of the ocean and you could see the African Renaissance Statue and the Mamelles Lighthouse in the distance.
Near where we boarded the pirogue for Île de Madeleine, there are two markets: the fish market and the artisanal market. The artisanal market is a very touristy market, but it has everything one could ever want in terms of souvenirs. From bags to clothes to jewelry to wood carved animals, there’s a lot you can get here.
Compared to other markets, like Sandaga or HLM, this market is much more laid back. Yes, shop owners constantly are trying to get you to come in their shop and sometimes work together in trying to persuade you to buy something, but for the most part, they aren’t super pushy unlike in other markets. Additionally, shop owners are willing to bargain and all you have to do is be confident and persistent in the price you want to pay. Most of the time, I am able to get the price down to at least half of what they ask for. This is where I bought most of my Christmas presents today!
Additionally, the fish market is just down the street. Fish that are brought in from the fishing pirogues are laid out for sale.
It also offers an amazing view of the ocean and hundreds of pirogues are laid out on the beach.
This is only a small glimpse into my world in the past few days, as it is Thursday and I leave next Tuesday. However, I hope you enjoyed reading this and seeing my pictures! As always, feel free to leave a comment or question and I will get back to you when I can!