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  • Writer's pictureMica Peng

17 Things To Do in Senegal

Updated: Oct 14, 2022

Gorée Island, Senegal -

Situated in West Africa, Senegal also know as the Land of Terranga is sitting right by the Atlantic Ocean.

You may have heard of the word Terranga whenever Senegal was talked about. Terranga means hospitality in Wolof. It is something Senegalese are truly proud of, and which makes this destination such a place to visit. The best way to picture Terranga way of life is sitting all together with a good Thieb (traditional Senegalese dish) and bissap (hibiscus drink)!


Wolof is the most spoken language in Senegal, but also Mauritania and the Gambia. The official language in Senegal is French. Wolof is the national language. You will actually find more people speaking Wolof than French. It was not hard for me to get around in Senegal with French, if you ever come across someone who only speaks Wolof only, there will always be someone who speaks French around.

photo from

photo from


They use West African Francs CFA, which is different than the one in other African countries. It is worth slightly more than Central Africa Francs CFA.

I converted my dollars to euro so that it is easier for me to change it CFA, but you don't need to do it if you are short on time. You can easily find an ATM there, and get CFA.

At first, I thought the way of life in Senegal would be cheaper than in Canada (where I am based), but I was surprised to see that the prices were quite similar. You might be saving money on transport but the food and tour pricing were the same. I went there a bit towards the end of the pandemic which really took a toll on the tourism industry so the prices were a bit higher than usual to compensate for the lack of business in the past year.


The country is predominantly Muslim at 97%. During Ramadan month, expect less activities.

Words to know

It always draws a smile on people's face when they see you know some Wolof.

Here are the top 3 words you need!


Salaam aleekum

respond with malekum salaam

How are you?

Nang def?

respond with mangi fi (I am good, thanks)

Thank you



I got this question quite a lot since I shared my trip on Instagram. Yes, Senegal is a safe place to go to. People there are very respectful towards women. You need to set boundaries if you sense someone is getting mixed signals which may happen. Compared to other countries, people give you more space. Of course, use common sense when going out late at night especially if you are alone (I walked by myself in a crowded market, yes people were looking at me but nothing crazy happened). People advised me to avoid La Corniche in Dakar especially late at night.


Always ask around to make sure you get all the info, then build an itinerary based on your preference. We started with Saly-Portudal, then Lompoul and finally Dakar. I contacted a guide tour found online for my friend and I, then shared to him my itinerary which he accomodated easily. Note that I went there during shoulder season during uncertain time due to Covid. A lot of people recommended Casamance, Cap Skirring and Sine et Saloum. If someone would like to invite me to go there, feel free to reach out to me :)

Airport to the city

You can call up a cab outside, reserve a car through Rent DKR to help you get to your accommodation.

Must Do Things in Senegal

Let's get to the thick of it shall we!

1. Do some Senegalese Twists or any braided hairstyles

If you have long hair and you have natural hair, I urge you to start by braiding your hair! The last thing you want is to worry about your hair during a vacation, and the price is so much cheaper than in the North America in Europe.

my happy face after the braids! :) I decided to change colours because why not?

If you don't know anyone on site, simply ask around. We asked someone at the bakery shop who called her friends. Her friend knew an auntie, and we ended up going to her place to get braided

2. Enjoy Saly-Portudal, a seaside resort

Commonly called Saly, it is located only 1h30 from Dakar. It was just 30 minutes from the airport, so we decided to start our trip there.

Saly-Portudal - photo from

Saly is so beautiful! We highly advise that you pick a nice hotel right by the sea since you may have gone there for that.

Hotel were we stay in Saly

Our place was really Instagram worthy, but you had a little walk to get there. It is always nicer to have convenient access to attractions.

me posing on the last day before taking a dip in the water!

3. Wander on a pirogue at the Lagune de Somone (Somone Lagoon)

The pirogue is a long and narrow canoe that we use a lot in Africa and also Carribean. It is best to go with a guide who knows about the fauna & flora, there are a lot of intricate and interesting details.

4. Make a wish at the sacred baobab

During the pirogue tour at la Lagune de Somone, stop at the sacred baobab to make a wish! You put a shell on the baobab, make your wish, and then it will realize!

5. Spend a night at Lompoul desert

We slept at Ecolodge du désert de Lompoul. It was one of the most magical experience of my life to spend time in the desert for the first time.

view of the lounge from afar

There were so many activities for us to enjoy from watching a dancing performance (also dancing with them), eating traditional food, chatting with people there, drinking Attaya (traditional tea) and watching the stars in the dark night, I will always remember my time there.

Ecolodge Lompoul Desert - photo from

We spent the night in a tent, I have to admit I got a bit scarred at night because you can heard the sound of insect so I had a hard time sleeping.

6. Do a camel ride in the desert

Another highlight of the trip!

me on top of a camel, they are so tall!

Wandering in the desert on a camel was very exciting. I highly recommend.

I think I just made a new buddy

7. Quad ride at Lac Rose (Pink Lake or Lake Retba)

Lac Rose means Pink Lake. It was called Lake Retba before, so you might see that name pop up sometimes. It got me really confused at the beginning of my trip research.

Before the quad ride, a local who collected the salt by the lake came to tell us the story behind the pink color (organized by my guide)

The lake is not always pink, it depends on few factors (wind, light...). The day we went there it very pink, you have the option to go in the pink lake and feel your body float on the water due to salinity content. We just dipped our feet.

Then we did the planned quad activity to make the visit more fun!

8. Get some Thieboudiene anywhere!

The food there is amazing. Thieboudienne (also called Thieb) is the national dish of Senegal, and the great thing is that even though it is long to cook, every household masters it! This dish defines the Terranga feeling with everybody eating in the same big tray, and sharing some interesting stories

You have different versions of Thieb such as Thieboudienne with fish, Thiebou Yapp is with meat. This dish is so well spiced and full of flavors, one of the best dishes I had in my entire life.

Vegetarian Thieb in Dakar

From the Thieb to Poulet Yassa, Mafé to Attaya, that place is a foodie's dream come true! Senegal is by the coast so expect fresh seafood.

9. Enjoy Dakar life

Dakar is know to be super busy! If you'd like to try out the best restaurant and experience night-life, this is the place to go to! Ask around for recommendations. We made some friends who took us out, and had a lot of fun!

10. Surf in Dakar

I was shocked when I learned that we can surf in Senegal, so I made it my mission to try it out. It was my first surfing experience, and it went pretty well. There are a lot of places that offer classes, you just need to ask around.

dakar surf - photo from

11. Check out the markets!

There is Kermel and HLM markets where you can find local products. Great way to find souvenirs to bring homes.

12. Visit Gorée Island

You cannot go to Senegal, and not go to Gorée Island.

I highly recommend going there with a guide as they will explain you into details history. It can get quite emotional to go there.

House of Slaves - photo from

13. Admiring the sunset at N'Gor Island

My favorite place and souvenir I had from my Senegal trip. Spending few hours at the beach alternating between transat and swims.

transat in N'Gor Island

Beware there are a lot of sea urchins, usually the people working there will tell you not to step. I stepped onto one, and we spend 45 minutes removing the little spades? not sure how we call it in English :)

15. Try Senegalese delicacies

Ditakh and Maad are 2 fruits you will only find there. You can drink Ditakh juice, and get some Maad by the streets.

Maad from street vendors in Dakar

16. Go to Radisson Blu pool for the day

One thing that I loved doing was spending some time just at the pool in a hotel, eating and enjoying the view. You will need to pay access which is around 5,000 FCFA ($7 USD) or 15,000 - 20,000 FCFA ($30 USD) with buffet included on week-ends.

photo from

I went to Pullman and Radisson Blu, the latest was my favorite with the view!

17. Dive in N'Gor Island

If you are a sea lover like me, there are some diving school in Dakar who can take you to some places to see underneath the water! It was a nice activity to do in Dakar!

one of the beaches at N'Gor Island

Places we did not visit intentionally/did not have time - Réserve de Bandia, Saint-Louis, Accrobaobab

My Must-Do - N'Gor Island, Lompoul Desert, Eat Senegalese Food

as seen on N'Gor island - to live is to learn to love

Restaurants - Jomo in Saly Portudal, Chez Bintou on N'Gor Island, Le Carré in Dakar (Almadies)

Cameroonian Food at Jomo Restaurant in Saly

For party people - we did not do that clubbing much, but there are few nice spots at the Débarcadère of N'Gor. There are a lots of options, it has been some time that I have been there. You just need to ask locals and they will take you to different spots.

Hope this was helpful to see what you can do in the land of Terranga!

You can check out my stories highlight on Instagram @micapeng for more ideas :)

Sending love,



Next to come

- Places to take the best pictures in Senegal (instagram worthy like copacabana)

- Contact for guide tour, taxi driver

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