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5 good reasons to go to Dakar
To see / do
Culture and History
This historic quarter of Dakar is located in the south of Cape Verde Peninsula and was built during the colonial era. It is still home to plenty of exceptional buildings from the beginning of the 20th century, like the Presidential Palace, Kermel Market and Our Lady of Victories Cathedral. The avenues follow a grid pattern and are lined with majestic trees, it's a lovely place to take a stroll.
This small, car-free island in the Bay of Dakar is a haven of peace. It was founded by the colonial administration before Dakar and was seen as perfect for a trading post for slaves, rubber, peanut oil, skins and spices. It is now a UNESCO heritage site and holiday destination, with its quiet streets, pastel-coloured facades and charming beach. Its calm, crystal clear waters are slightly cooler than those on the continent.
Street art in the medina
Today, Senegal is a mainly Muslim country. The Medina of Dakar is a particularly authentic and interesting quarter to visit. Its old facades have gradually been covered by magnificent mural frescoes, particularly during the Festigraff, a major event dedicated to urban culture, which takes place each year in April.
The Museum of Black Civilisations
This new museum was inaugurated in late 2018 and has become the largest in the city. Its bold architecture was inspired by the Impluvium houses in the Casamance region. The inaugural exhibition "African Civilisations: ongoing creation of mankind" covers four floors divided into different periods: The Cradle of Humanity, Continental African Civilisations, Negritude Worldwide and Now Africa.
Wallace Neff's bubble houses
In what is now nicknamed the "Quartiers Boules" (Bubble District), we can still see very strange, egg-shaped houses. They date from the great reconstruction of Dakar in the 1950s, when American architect Wallace Neff was called upon to design quick-to-build, economical dwellings to replace more traditional shelters. He invented the Airform process, which consists in projecting cement onto a rubber ball covered with metal meshing. Over 1200 houses were built using this technique! We're sure you can find some of them.
The best-known beaches in Senegal are to be found at the Saly Portudal coastal resort, 80 km south-east of Dakar. This former Portuguese trading post has become a sought-after tourist destination thanks to the quality of its hotels, restaurants, night clubs and arts and crafts shops. From the fishing village, you can still observe the return of fish-ladened pirogues.
The Lake of Retba
The distictive pink colour of this lake in the outskirts of Dakar is caused by a micro-organism. Its waters are extremely salty, due to seawater seepage which is then concentrated by evaporation. It is almost impossible to swim in because you float so easily. Bathing quickly becomes irritating for the skin, unless you smother yourself with shea butter like the salt workers do.
This is the Senegalese national dish. It is made of rice, fish, vegetables (cabbage, carrots, cassava) a few spices and tomato sauce, which gives it its colour. A slow-cooked dish which can be found everywhere.
Yassa is another iconic dish in the country, it is a speciality made with fried onions and rice, served with meat or fish marinated in lemon juice. It's quick and simple but also delicious. Chicken Yassa is the most common form but you can discover plenty of other options.
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