Stopping over in Dakar, Senegal

About a month-and-a-half ago I packed my bright orange pull-along for a trip I hadn’t done before.  I was venturing into Africa for the first time.  It actually sounds funny saying “venturing into Africa” being African and all.  But, somehow, being South African I’ve always felt a bit removed from the rest of Africa, if that makes any sense?  Don’t get me wrong.  I’ve always loved this continent, but let’s be honest…we don’t always consider the continent when we’re in our country bubble.  Anyhoo, here I was on my way to the Great North (Dakar, Senegal to be exact)…and I couldn’t wait!  You see, I have a bit of a fascination with the people of the North.  Or rather – the great history that West Africa holds.

So here I was on a cold Autumn morning in Cape Town boarding the second flight out to Johannesburg because, as a traveller on a budget one must do lengthy layovers.  Lengthy.  My pre-coffee self struggled quite a bit but I survived.  And so did everyone else around me.  (Side note – if someone is not smiling in the morning it probably means they want to be left alone and need decent coffee before they can communicate with you in any coherent way).  About 12 hours later the Washington flight departed with me on it.  We were off.  And the reading commenced.


At around 1:30 am (yes, am) we touched down at the Léopold Sédar Senghor International Airport in Dakar, Senegal.  I think it must be the smallest airport I have ever seen.  And different.  I have never seen as many country flags at any airport ever.  The Senegalese definitely love their flag.  The customs officials all looked like military men…and I was exhausted.  Customs done, it was time for the trip to the hotel.  More security.


Upon arriving at the King Fahd Palace Hotel my bags had to have x-rays done airport-style once again.  My muddled brain tried to hook straight onto that wi-fi because some of us need to be connected.  Wi-fi reception? Sub-par at best.  ET calling home was an extreme feat.  However, the poolside of this hotel is quite lovely.  Located right next to the beach it offers beautiful views and tranquility.


We had planned to take a trip to Goree Island later that Good Friday morning because this was the main purpose for moving through Dakar (post on this soon).  So we grabbed a taxi (yikes!) and experienced the wonderful Dakar city traffic and creepy crawlies in the back seat.  It was hot and sticky but worth seeing the beautiful coastline and countless incomplete buildings.  I love to watch people go about their daily lives.  It fascinates me.  So watching people use the free outdoor gym on the beach and the children playing in the park…on the beach…is awesome.


If you’re an avid photographer with a love for buildings then Dakar is a gem.  Construction is ever present on every street corner.  Not many high-rise buildings and so much detail.  A slower-paced existence.  Great seafood.  And the gateway to the greater international diaspora.



Dakar is nothing like Cape Town or Johannesburg…or New York or London.  It has a uniqueness all it’s own.  If you find you have a few pennies lying around and don’t know what to do with them, consider visiting Dakar.  If anything it would be an experience.  But go in spring because the summers are really hot when you’re that close to the Equator.  And if you’re a fellow African it’s definitely worth the trip to see how the rest of our brothers and sisters live.  Let’s look beyond our bubble. I’m glad I did and will definitely make the trip again.


If you would like to see more of my trip feel free to check out my Instagram.  It’s not your usual travel photoblog because I want you to see what I see – not for you too see me.  There will definitely be a follow-up post on Goree because she deserves a post all her own.


Have you ever travelled to any African country?  Any country you think might be worth visiting?  Ever been been to Senegal?  What are your thoughts.  Share and share alike.  I’d love to learn more 🙂







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24 thoughts on “Stopping over in Dakar, Senegal

  1. I haven’t traveled to any African country but my hubby went to Johannesburg last year for work and loved it! I’d love to explore Dakar as it looks like a great place to understand the culture and meet with locals. Also, the view of poolside is quite splendid!

    1. You should come! I am in Cape Town – sun, surf and beautiful views all around (that’s not just my bias talking). I found Dakar to be quite traditional in a refreshing way. Definitely worth the visit.

  2. I really really love to travel, every other day I look at my shiny new passport that’s been never used, the wanderlust, fever in my bones and I wish I could be somewhere else, somewhere I’ve never been but somewhere I ‘d want to go hahaha… *goes back to trying to guess lottery numbers**

    1. Hahaha – cracked me up! Use that shiny new passport. Africa is fast and not too expensive, as is East Asia. Why not start a savings account just for international travel? Then there’s also travelling within one’s own country that is so rewarding 🙂

  3. This might be a bit biased but since I am from Nigeria, I did not know there are beautiful places in West Africa. Glad you have a great time there.

    1. I think different people find different things beautiful. I have a great love for history and old buildings. Sometimes we don’t really appreciate the beauty around us. I was born and bred in Cape Town but only discovered her true beauty when I left and came back home. It’s about finding beauty in the small things, I guess…West Africa has true beauty, not least in her people.

  4. I just checked out the airport after your post and you are right it is tiny but I am glad that they take their security so seriously. The pool next to the beach sounds like the perfect scenario x

  5. It’s a shame about the wi-fi at King Fahd Palace Hotel. I’m the same as you, I need to be connected and with unwell family members I really do feel as if I need to be contactable incase of any emergency. It’s a shame the big review sites don’t do a better job calling out the wi-fi strength. Glad you did!

    1. I understand fully. I always feel the need to keep in touch with home-base. With international roaming being so expensive one kind of depends on good wi-fi to stay connected. Thanks for reading.

  6. palace Hotel looks beautiful. I never heard of Seneghal but now I will save it for future travel to Africa.

    1. Senegal is in West Africa – a country with beautiful sights and people. You should definitely add it to your list!

  7. I have never been to an African country probably because it i s too far! but I have heard it is absolutely beautiful! Wish to go there someday.

    1. Where are you based? I am from Cape Town which is absolutely gorgeous. Africa is filled with many wonders. You should come 🙂

  8. Wow! i’d never even heard of Dakar but it is so photogenic! That second image in black and white is so striking.

  9. I love Dakar, I’ve been here a few years ago and it was an incredible experience.
    And the hotel looks beautiful too 🙂

    1. Dakar is something special. Definitely going back to experience the greater city. Thanks for reading 🙂

  10. Love your blog cuz and the pics are incredible. So, I recon your next to will be to Nigeria? Maybe we can do it together early September joining the CfAN(Christ for All Nations)team having there crusade with Evangelist Reighnart Bonke in Lagos. Sela!!

  11. Nice one Shelley! I feel like if not for a word limit, you would have said more! 😀 I now live in Lagos so yea, after having grown up in S.A. it can be a shock on many levels…lol…but I am loving it…loving being home and loving the cultural and social change

    1. Thanks Toyin! Definitely had so much more to say , but, you know. I might actually stop over in Lagos someday. Something to consider. We definitely have a continent like no other…so rich in culture and history 🙂

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