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Dakar is the capital of Senegal.
The Senegalese are very proud of their reputation for "teranga" — hospitality. Locals are extremely friendly and helpful; but as anywhere else, watch out for scams and pickpockets. Petty crime here is relatively high, be cautious. While some locals are friendly, be careful, because local shop owners are very persistent.
Dakar is a major West African hub, so there are lots of flights coming from and going to Europe, North America and other African cities. Be prepared to arrive and leave at any time of the night or day — many flights come in at around 2 and leave at around 4 AM.
Léopold Sédar Senghor International Airport is relatively small, and can be bustling if more than one plane arrives at a time. When departing, do not be fooled into thinking that with so few terminals you can arrive later than usual — emigration can be very slow, and you should leave as much time as you would at any airport.
The rail service connecting Dakar and Koulikoro in Mali, once stopping at many cities in Senegal, has been cancelled indefinitely.
The main method of travel around the country is by sept places. If you are obviously a tourist, they WILL try to rip you off, so make sure to set a price before you agree to a driver. There are set prices to often-travelled locations.
The Dakar bus system, known as Dakar Demm Dikk (Dakar coming and going), is fairly dependable. Fares are 150 CFA, and there are no transfer. Unfortunately, for newcomers, there's not much in the way of a map of the bus system, so you'll have to figure it out on your own.
Cheap and safe and everywhere. All taxi fares are negotiated beforehand and will require bargaining. If you're not from Senegal, it is best to check with locals before to get an idea of what they pay, in order to know what you will be able to get. Make sure your taxi has the right change as well before departing. Leave tips when you feel the service was good.
What to see
African Renaissance Monument. This colossal monument is dedicated to Africa's emergence from the oppressive European regimes that once ruled the continent and the end of slavery. It is also meant as a display of African pride to shirk foreign perceptions of Africans as lesser people.
IFAN Museum of African Arts (Musée Théodore Monod d’Art Africain).
Les Almadies (Les pointes des Almadies). The Western tip of the African continent where plenty of seafood restaurants are located.
Dakar Grand Mosque. Built in 1964.
Hann Park and Zoo. The public gardens were built in 1903 and thee arboretum was built in 1947. The gardens feature a wide variety of Senegalese plantlife and the zoo contains over 130 animals.
Check out the incredibly rich musical scene.
Lake Retba (Lac Rose). Also called the "Pink Lake", the high concentration of cyanobacteria indeed gives the lake a pink tone. During the dry season and when the sun is brightest the color is said to be especially vivid. The lake has a high concentration of salt, so while you admire the beauty of the lake, you can also observe the salt harvesters who still gather salt in the traditional way.
Birdwatch. Senegal is a great country for birdwatching, and Dakar is no exception. Les Almadies is a good place to see seabirds, and the Iles de la Madeleine is the only African nesting site of the red-billed tropicbird.
Islam Couture/ Embroidery Dakar has some amazing (and amazingly expensive) stores specialised in haute-couture, embroidered traditional west African Muslim clothes.
Marche Sandaga Madness. A decrepit concrete structure that has - despite appearance - three levels of activity: meat and vegetable stalls on the main floor, fish in the basement dungeon and - surprise - restaurant stalls on the roof.
Marche HLM A smaller market geared primarily towards fabric vendors, Marche HLM is slightly less crazy than Sandaga. Hundreds of options for fabric that you can buy and then get tailored into perfectly fitting traditional Senegalese wear.
Marche Kermel, near the city centre in the area across the street from Casino supermarket, Marche Kermel is a smaller market than Sandiga but has better quality artisanal goods, from ostrich leather attaché cases, crocodile belts & camel wallets, to antique African masks and beautiful bronze sculptures both made locally and imported from Burkino Faso. There are also high quality (expensive and beautiful) imported handmade textiles from Ghana.
This market also has an extensive fresh seafood market featuring the largest shrimp (Cameroon) and lobsters to be found in Dakar as well as grouper (called thiouf), red snapper (called rougette), organic chicken (free range from farms) and meat. The market is clean and well kept and the vegetables, fruit and fresh flowers are also sold there as well.
Soumbedioune, a popular evening fish market. There is also a "Village Artisanal" nearby where especially tourists can buy hand-made African jewellery, wooden decoration elements and much more. Be prepared to bargain.