“7 Seconds Away” – Youssou N’Dor.
It feels weird that I can’t write “backpacking in Senegal” as I’d be lying. I have never gone backpacking in Senegal, but I have been travelling there and I still was able to see the sights I wanted despite being on a lost luggage challenge and without my notorious backpacking brace of Osprey and MindShift.
I managed to do some textbook sightseeing and touristy stuff though. I based myself at N’Gor beach in Dakar at the start in Maison Abaka, loving the beach life and the fish. Then I headed downtown, based myself at the excellent Hotel Baraka. From here, I toured not only the Pink Lake, but all the key sights in the city that interested me. All this in the middle of a lunatic journey to Gambia and back where I started stroking live wild crocodiles. There was always time for a textbook top ten though…
Thiossane is a nightclub owned by none other than Youssou N’Dour, Dakar’s most famous son and the first ever Senegalese person I had heard of in my lifetime, thanks to his duet hit single in 1994 with Neneh Cherry, 7 Seconds Away.
It was a shame then, after my night out watching bellydancing, that Thiossane Nightclub was shut on my only Saturday night in downtown Dakar. My Polish friend is a bellydancer and she would have loved it. I went back in the day time, but it seemed to be closed for refurbishment. I saw the famous venue only from the outside. I liked how it was in a raw and local area. No swanky bull excrement here.
2.Atlantic Mosque (Mosque of the Divinity)
This impressive Mosque not only has a brilliant view but is a good looking building itself. It sits right on the Atlantic Ocean. I visited on a gorgeous clear day. Despite the fact that the Grand Mosque is bigger and more important to the people, the Atlantic Mosque is my personal favourite and if you only see one Mosque in Dakar, head out to this one.
It can be hard to get to on public transport, but my local driver was able to take me here as part of a self organised city tour.
In the heart of the downtown, sits the prominent Grand Mosque. I got here by flight using Turkish Airlines, from Istanbul. The Turkish and Senegalese have a good relationship, and the Turks helped fund the building of this structure.
It sits in a prominent courtyard and I headed there to hear the Call to Prayer.
It brought me a reminder of my time whackpacking the Middle East and Tunisia as these Medinas are basically like an old town which are mostly used as market stalls. Dakar’s is the birthplace of Youssou N’Dour and you can wind your way through it, taking in its charms. Be aware of pickpockets and scammers, as ever.
The Place de L’Independence is the Independence Square. The Governor’s Office and Chamber of Commerce sit here, but really it’s just a large rectangular park with roads on either side. Worth a quick walk around.
Sadly I have no photos of the Palais Presidentiel as the guards outside monitor it very strictly and they don’t even allow photos from a distance – they’ll see you. It’s on Avenue Leopold Senghor street (and at the bottom of Boulevard de la Republique) and you can at least admire the Palace from the front of the gates next to the soldiers, who are in impeccable attire. There is a pretty garden area opposite which can be photographed.
7.Léopold Sédar Senghor National Stadium
For me a visit here was a highlight. Dakar’s most supported football team, ASC Jeanne D’Arc, play at the 60,000 capacity all-seater/bencher Léopold Sédar Senghor national stadium. It’s situated near Pattie D’Oie, on Route de Yoff, about 6 km north of the city centre.
As I also visited Gambia’s national football stadium on this trip, it means that I have now seen 100 different national football stadiums on my journeys through 116 recognised countries.
Senegal made the Quarter Finals in the 2002 World Cup and they had players such as El Hadji Diouf and Papa Bouba Diop.
Senegal is famous for its beaches. Tourists and local go swimming, play football, go surfing and even deep sea diving in the waters by the gorgeous beaches. I spent my first two days in the country by the Plage N’Gor. It’s a beautiful tranquil beach.
9.Monument du Millenaire
This Millennium Monument is another fine structure and a sign of the future and good times here in Dakar. Again you can easily get here with a driver and just hop out take your photos and admire the views out to sea. They are meant to be building a huge monument soon, just down from this.
10.African Renaissance Monument
The most interesting thing about the African Renaissance Monument is that it was built by the North Koreans! It is one of two odd hills in Dakar, often referred to as “Dakar’s breasts”. I saw this one about 10 times while driving round the city yet not once did I feel the need to stop and dander up there, paying the price to see it for real. Still, it’s one of two breasts – a lighthouse sits atop the other one.
Here are a few videos from my time NOT backpacking in Dakar, Senegal: