Skip to content

Tag: Top 10 Lists

10 Tips for Life in Dakar

1.Walk Downtown on a Sunday. On a Sunday, you can wander peacefully around downtown Dakar (Plateau) to your heart’s content, without having to dodge traffic. Discover old colonial architecture on the roads around Rue Jules Ferry and Marché Kermel, and explore the Corniche (coast road) for spectacular views of Gorée Island and the beach at Anse Bernard.     

anse-bernard-dakar-001

2.Get to Know Your BBBs. This stands for Brochettes de Lotte, Beach and Bissap (or Beer!). If you’re wondering how to spend a free afternoon, this simple formula always works: find a place with a sea view, order some tasty fish kebabs along with your refreshing beverage of choice and you’ll have a wonderfully restorative couple of hours. Try the seafood shacks at Pointe des Almadies, Africa’s westernmost point.

brochette-chips

3.Enjoy the Nightlife (during the day). Dakar is famous for its nightlife, but the best of the action doesn’t normally start before 1am. If you find it hard to stay up that late, doesn’t mean you have to miss out. Look on listings websites like Agendakar to see what’s on during the day. Places like Goethe Institute in Point E often have concerts and other cultural events in the afternoons or early evenings, and they’re usually free.

IMG_1683

4.Love Your Neighbour. Community is important here, and it’s worth taking the time to get to know your neighbours and people you see on a daily basis. These are the folks who will brighten your day by offering you a cup of Attaya (traditional tea) or who will bring you home-cooked food for absolutely no reason at all.

5.Find Your Secret Spot. Mine is Le Calao, next to the Ngor Dioarama. It’s a nondescript blink-and-you’ll-miss-it hotel which has a stunning surprise at the end of its long driveway; a beautiful natural rock pool which looks out to Ngor Island. Perfect for a quiet swims and peaceful sunsets. Never crowded.

IMG_8062
The Rock pool at Le Calao

6.Eat Communal. Something I’d never done before coming to Dakar but now counts as one of my favourite activities is to eat around a communal food bowl. It’s a fun and relaxed way of eating that never fails to bring people closer together.

IMG_1439

7.Get Culturally Orientated. Gather a group of work colleagues or friends together and spend half a day having a fun, but in-depth workshop on all aspects of Senegalese culture at the ACI Baobab Center, including the etiquette for sharing a communal food bowl and the proper way to do greetings and goodbyes. You will feel instantly more confident in settling in when you know some of the cultural subtleties that might otherwise take years to discover.

418095833_64605e1465_o
Photo by Angela Sevin

8.Try Something New. Sabar drumming, African dance, Batik dyeing, Kora lessons; there are plenty of unique activities on offer here that will challenge your body and mind, and keep you entertained. Take advantage of your surroundings and try something different!

DSC_0127

9.Find Your Hole in the Wall. For tasty and inexpensive home-cooked food, look for places that get packed out at lunchtimes and join the queue. Le Prestige in Ouakam does a great Yassa Poulet (find it at the top of the road that goes from the Monument to the Brioche Dorée) and I have it on good authority that Mme Fatou Mbengue’s roadside stand is the go-to place for some of the tastiest Thieboudienne in Mermoz at 700 CFA per plate.

Le Prestige
Le Prestige

10.Get out often! Dakar can sometimes feel overwhelming, so make sure to take a break when you can. Head up the coast to a lovely spot like this, or if you’re pressed for time Ngor and Goree Islands provide the perfect quick escapes. Rest, re-charge and come back with a new appreciation for what this fantastic city has to offer.

View of Dakar from Ngor Island
5 Comments

10 Reasons Why I Love Dakar

1.The Atlantic. Dakar’s stunning location on a plateau above the Atlantic Ocean means a variety of great city beaches to choose from, and some very welcoming sea breezes when things heat up. The sunsets are incredible.

Photo by Jeff Attaway
Photo by Jeff Attaway

2.Style. The Dakarois take their personal style very seriously. Many people have their outfits handmade and there is a tailor on almost on every street corner. The stunning array of Boubous – always perfectly starched and worn with pointy Moroccan leather slippers – Taille Basse with matching headgear and Tunics in vibrant colours are a feast for the eyes.

3.Teranga. If there is one word that sums Senegal up it’s probably Teranga, the custom of hospitality. The Senegalese are some of the friendliest people you will ever meet and will generally make a huge effort to welcome visitors into their homes and introduce them to their language and culture.

4.Music. The music scene in Dakar is buzzing with talent and you can go out every night of the week to hear both established and up-and-coming musicians. You wouldn’t expect any less from a country that has given the world the likes of Youssou N’dour, Baba Maal and Ismaël Lô.

IMG_6139

5.Culture and Creativity. Dakar plays host to an internationally renowned Art Biennale and is a hub for fast-developing media arts. It has recently been recognised by UNESCO as part of its Creative Cities Network .

IMG_5982

6.Weather. On average, Dakar gets about a gazillion hours of sunshine every year. Enough said.

7.Car Rapides. Dakar has the most charmingly and colourfully decorated public transport you will ever see, called the Car Rapide (literally, fast car). They are fun to look at and fun to take around the city (although not at rush hour, when the fast cars can slow down to a very slow crawl).

IMG_6183

8.The Mix. Dakar is a regional hub. There are people here from all over Africa, a huge Lebanese community, substantial numbers of French as well as expatriates from all over the world. This makes for a wonderfully cosmopolitan and international atmosphere.

9.The Food. Highlights include the ubiquitous Thiéboudienne (Senegal’s national dish of rice, fish and vegetables), juicy Brochettes de Lotte (monkfish kebabs), fancy French cuisine, amazing local teas and exotic juices like Bissap (Hibiscus flower), Baobab and Tamarind.

1

10.Peace. Last but definitely not least, Dakar is located in one of the most stable and democratic countries in Africa. The population is mainly Muslim but there are also Christians and those of other faiths. Tolerance of all religions is paramount here, and as a result everyone rubs along together very nicely.

IMG_0665

5 Comments