It was our first New Year that Loanne and I parted ways to join our respective other halves on a end of year getaway.
Whilst Loanne whisked away to Bali, I ventured to the Western coast of Africa to Senegal.
I know some of you will be unfamiliar with Senegal which isn't surprising as it is often overlooked as a holiday destination amongst brits. This made it even more exciting to know that I was about to embark on an adventure without any preconceptions or ideals (despite the little bit of information my boyfriend had shared with me) and what a pleasant surprise it was indeed.
Senegal is a country full of rich traditions, textured landscapes and an infectious optimism and vitality that reverberates amongst its inhabitants, if it's never been on your list of places to go, I highly recommend adding it now!
I spent the majority of my time in Somone, a seaside village nestled in the heart of a beautiful lagoon, classified as a nature reserve and home to several species of migratory birds, fish and lush vegetation made up of mangroves.
In ten days I got to experience Senegal in all its glory from the lively metropolis of Dakar (the capital), the majestic seaside village of Somone to an impoverished rural village in central Senegal (Petit Meka) where I became acquainted with some of the most enlightening kids. (As you can see most of my photos were taken of the kids in the village. Their energy and positivity despite their primitive living conditions was inspiring and a moment I won't forget!) If you get a chance to venture this far, it's definitely worth a visit.
Below I've listed a few recommendations of things you must do in and around the Somone region. Just make sure you brush up on your French as English is hardly spoken amongst the Senagalese.
Watch the sunset on the Someone Lagoon
Take a fishing boat out on on the Somone Lagoon to watch the sunset. The lagoon is a sanctuary of migratory birds from Pelicans, silver herons, flamingos and other birds that stroll on the waters filled with beautiful mangroves. Hidden amongst the mangroves lies an ancient Baobab tree stub embellished in hundreds of sea shells. Make sure you stop off and place a shell on one of the stubs, make a wish, this majestic 'tree of life' will be sure to give you good luck. After stop off at the Paradise Rasta for some locally sourced seafood and chilled reggae vibes.
Visit Goree Island
A short ferry ride from Dakar, lies Goree Island, at first glance the island bestows a beautifully quaint village with gorgeous faded buildings, rich in colours and architecture highlighting its’ european colonial history, yet beneath the beauty of the Island hides a brutal history. Goree Island was the largest slave-trading centre on the African Coast, African men, women and children were held and traded here before being loaded onto ships to the Americas.
It’s a must visit if you fancy doing something cultural, it's geared up for tourists, with plenty of stalls, places to eat and beautiful views and walks. It’s a rather somber and eerie experience but nevertheless an important one that serves as a reminder of severe human exploitation.
Drink Senegalese tea with the locals
I fell in love with the Senegalese tea, not just for it’s sweet taste but the intricate process by which it is prepared and presented formerly known as Attaya in Wolof. (Wolof is the language spoken in Senegal.) Keep an eye out on the sidewalks for locals preparing the tea by repeatedly pouring the brew from one glass to another, to achieve a nice foam. The tea ritual is an important part of daily and social life and is the customary beverage offered to guests. It is a sweet, pungent brew of (Chinese) green-tea leaves, plenty of sugar, and often mint.
Crocodile spotting at Niokolo-Koba National Park
We spent a good two hours trekking in the car through rustic terrain, eyes glued to the binoculars in the hope of spotting Lions and leopards, unfortunately the best we saw was a few antelopes lurking around the premises, so don’t come here in the hope of finding these wild animals. What I would recommend however, is the boat trip we did down the beautiful Gambia river spotting hippos and crocodiles. A tranquil and stunning setting that makes you feel like you’re part of the Wild Thornberry's !
Dance with the locals
Senegal is home to one of Africa’s most unique and sexy dances called Sabar dancing, performed to the beats of the Sabar drum which incorporates every part of the body. Head into the capital Dakar to the bars/ clubs or to a street party and immerse yourself in the world of Sabar, you will be in awe of their rhythm. I tried my hand at dancing with the locals on New Years eve and trying to emulate their style of dancing was like trying to learn to dance all over again, regardless of whether you can do it or not, let go, feel the rhythm and let the peoples infectious energy take you on a journey!
Quad biking in the Baobab forest
Rent out a quad and ride through the Baobab forest, there are local stations where you can hire quads for the day, it’s a great way to see the place and discover some hidden gems.
Massage at the Rhino resort hotel and Spa
If you’re into pampering this 5-star resort based in Saly boasts a luxe spa within a unique african setting. Soak up the sun by the pool before indulging in the spa.
Tip: Get the body massage, be prepared for a massage that touches you in all sorts of places. (Not for prudes!)
Sundowners at the Les Manguiers de Guéréo resort nature lodge
After Quad biking around frantically looking for a perfect spot to watch the sunset, we stumbled across this resort, set in the heart of a preserved natural environment offering panoramic views of the Somone lagoon and ocean. Its’ huge infinity pool and beautiful interiors made for an idyllic spot to watch the sunset and take in the stunning views. The newly opened resort, plays host to wildlife observatories flower gardens and diverse birdlife.
Tip: If you’re looking for somewhere to stay the superior lodges offer private pools with stunning views of the lagoon and sea with reasonable prices.
All of these images were taken on my new Google Pixel phone! :)