Happy Christmas Eve!
I just returned from a quick but bomb visit to beautiful Dakar, Senegal! My friends and I planned a 40th birthday trip to celebrate our collective born days, as most of us rang in our personal New Years at home.
We spent 5 days sunning, eating, and discovering all the beautiful gems the fabulous country has to offer. Read on for a quick Bomb Life guide of Where to Stay, What to do, and What to see in Dakar:
- How to Get There
We booked our tickets dern near a year ago on Delta . The flight there is 7 hours and the flight back is 8.5 hours, so I splurged on Delta One along with some of my homies.
As T Boz once told Nas in Belly, “Africa is Far”…
So regardless of when you book your ticket, expect to pay anywhere from $1,500 to $3,000 for round trip. But it’s well worth it!
2. Where to Stay
We stayed at the Radisson Blu in Dakar (Address: Rte de la Corniche Ouest, Dakar 16868, Senegal), and our hostess opted for her and I to stay in the Royal Suite.
If you want to do it big, get the Royal Suite. It is spacious, has a patio facing the sea, a kitchen, and a living room.
It also comes with added perks like a fruit basket (that I destroyed), champagne, and various treats.
The pool is also quite picturesque and quiet, with poolside drinks and snacks on deck.
The Radisson Blu was bomb. Just be prepared to get your bag scanned and hands unsanitized every time you enter.
3. Where to Eat
If we did one thing in Dakar, we ate WELL.
A few restaurants in no particular order:
*Phare de Mamelles: Come here for yummy food and stunning, unmatched views of the city. Whether day or night, it’s going to be a party, so bring some flats so you can dance off all the dinner calories.
*La Terrasse at Terrou-Bi: This 5 star hotel also serves delicious local delicacies like Poulet Yassa (roasted chicken with sautéed onion sauce), Thiouf (local fried fish) and Thieboudienne (fish with traditional rice). At this restaurant and many others, I loved the vast selection of Mocktails (Islam and Muslim culture have a strong presence in Dakar, thus the availability of lots of non alcoholic drinks), and local juices in flavors like Ginger, Mango, Guava, and Bissap.
*Le Bazoff: This restaurant was simple, yet had lots of Kabobs (fish, chicken, beef, or shrimp) with delicious sauces on the side. I almost took the hot sauce home with me (I had to leave it there because I couldn’t find a container). I will dream of that hot sauce and how it set my mouth aflame for ages…
*Alkimedia: In addition to its beauty, Alkimedia serves lovely fresh dishes like Salmon and Scallops, topped off by Senegalese Tea (mint tea with LOTS of sugar. It is divine).
4. What to Do
So my friends and I just so happened to come during Dakar Fashion Week (read all about it and subscribe at TheStateofFashion.Bulletin.com), so our first few days were centered around those activities.
On other days, we enjoyed the following must sees:
*The Black Renaissance Monument:
This monument, which is the tallest monument in Africa, stands as tribute to black progress and excellence. It holds a museum inside, chock full of tributes to greats throughout African history, including Toussaint Louverture, Martin Luther King, and even Barack Obama.
20 million slaves passed through Goree Island, one of the world’s largest slave ports. Captive Africans were held in tiny, prison like accomodations for months before passing through the door of no return, and being shipped to the United States, Europe, Brazil, and the Caribbean. Despite it’s atrocious history, the island is oddly picturesque and well preserved. The spirit, anxiety, and sadness of our ancestors is palpable. Bring some tissues.
According to CNN, “The salt content of Lake Retba or Lac Rose, as it’s locally known, rivals that of the Dead Sea – exceeding 40% salinity in some parts – and it is a combination of the sun and a salt-loving micro-algae, dunaliella salina, which has turned the water a brilliant shade of strawberry pink.” Sunshine and wind help the Micro Algae to let off a pink mist–which was sadly missing on our trip there. However, dipping into the lake, similar to what one does at the Dead Sea, is said to have restorative properties, improving various skin conditions and for relaxation. My friends and I took a dip and it was fun!
Be sure to check it out.
Right after dipping into Lac Rose, we dried off by taking an ATV ride by the ocean. It was slightly dangerous, but exhilaratingly fun! Imagine driving at top speed up and down dunes, passing by Camels, cows, and the ocean! When we went around and asked everyone’s highlights from the trip, this topped the list.
No Bomb Life Travel Guide would be complete without a bit of shopping! Algueye Dakar (one of the Designers who showed at Dakar Fashion Week) has a boutique, and Adama Paris, in addition to having her own boutique, also seems to have a small store stocking various local designers at Pullman Hotel.
5. General Notes/Covid Regulations
*Senegal is a French speaking country. Thankfully I and a few of my friends speak French, so we were able to get our practice on while also acting as translators. That said, most people speak English, particularly in hotels, restaurants, and tourist attractions.
*Senegal is known for its elegance and modesty. After a few days, I noticed I was the only one wearing short skirts, etc. Reference back to Muslim culture, which leans towards being covered up. No one will roll their eyes at you, however it’s something to consider and make note of. This translates to fashion in Dakar: You’ll notice hemlines are longer, more skin is covered. It was refreshing.
*Covid, Etc: In order to go to Senegal, you’ll need to be vaccinated for Yellow Fever, and provide a negative PCR Covid test within 1-3 days of departure. You’ll also have to provide a negative COVID test on your way home. US sites said you had to be vaccinated to come back, but no one checked (even though we are all vaccinated). Cases of COVID are not as rampant as they are in the States. Masks are encouraged, but most of our activities took place outside. Also, be sure to get Malaria pills. Though I packed my DEET, one frisky mosquito found me one night and flew into my bonnet! I’m still mad about it.
*Food and Water: The food is bomb. I ate everything. A lady at the Travel Vaccination place I went to encouraged me not to eat fruits or raw vegetables, not to brush my teeth with tap water, and to bring Diarrhea pills. I ate grapes, apples, plums, and oranges. I ate fish, veggies, and all the local delicacies (even street food). I didn’t have diarrhea and didn’t get sick. But that’s just me!
*Get a Chauffeur or Tour Guide : I would not recommend going to Dakar or any African country without a local point of contact or a tour guide. We had friends who were kind enough to put together our itinerary. We had two drivers who stayed with us the whole time. We also had two lovely guides, Patricia and Almamy, who stayed with us for everything. I’m happy to ask them if they’d be open to hosting another group if you are interested in traveling there. Just email me: Book@clairesulmers.com for info.
You don’t necessarily need the chauffeurs (there are taxis everywhere), but having someone on the ground looking out for you is always helpful.
Overall, I LOVED Dakar! The people were nice and welcoming. Food and drinks were delish. There was lots to see and do. The trip was seamless and without incident. To leave there and come back to snow and gray skies in New York is…sad. That said, I encourage you to visit the Motherland once in your life, it will change your life.
Do you have anything to add?
Love & Light,
*Here’s a bit of slave history that blew my mind: According to our tour guide in Gorée island, Slave masters sent the bigger slaves (weighing approx 200 pounds) to the United States, and slimmer slavers (weighing approx 132 pounds) elsewhere, to places like Brazil and Europe. According to him, they sent stubborn slaves to Jamaica and Haiti (shout out to my fellow Haitians). Only the strongest slaves took the voyage; the weak ones were thrown into the ocean and fed to sharks. So if you ever wonder why you’re big and strong, why/how you can eat a bunch of stuff and not get sick (raises hand), this might give you some context. I’d say to go to Dakar and various cities in Africa to learn your history.
**Dakar is known to have one of the most beautiful sunsets in Africa. Take it in!
***You’ll notice there’s lots of sports equipment on the beach, and people run in the evening. Physical fitness is big in Dakar!
****The only not so great thing about the city is that you will be a target for street vendors looking to sell you stuff, whether it’s t-shirts, bracelets, or clothing. They won’t hurt you, but they will bug you. Just practice saying “Non Merci,” or be ready to negotiate the best price. Everything can be negotiated.