One wonderful thing about this program is the spring break. After our week of spring break, we had the Monday after Easter and Wednesday (Independence Day) off from school. Some classes were cancelled on Tuesday and Thursday. So, roughly we had a week and a half to two weeks of vacation depending on the schedule. Because of this, many people traveled to different countries, different parts of Senegal, or discovered new parts of Dakar. My boyfriend came to visit. When I was looking at different places to take him or show him, I found it was challenging finding detailed information about tourist locations. While things may change, here are prices, transportation, and fun things to do around Dakar for the next group of CIEE students coming to Dakar.
How to get to the airport:
First things first, if you are traveling or picking up a visitor that speaks no French, it is important to know how to get to the airport. The new airport, Aéroport international Blaise-Diagne, is about 35 miles outside of Dakar. You can opt for a taxi at 18,000 CFA ($50). There is a nice air-conditioned bus, called Express AIBD, which goes directly to and from the airport to the stadium at Grand Yoff (le stade à Grand Yoff) for 6000 CFA ($12). There is also a Dakar Dem Dikk, the 405, that goes to the airport from the terminus at Liberté 5 for 1000 CFA ($2). This bus makes stops along the way, but will drop you off at the doors of the airport. However, it stops running at 8:30 pm while the other forms of transportation run 24 hours.
Iles des Madeleines:
This small island is one of the smallest national parks in the world. It is absolutely beautiful. In order to get there, we told the taxi man to take us to “Iles des Madeleines presque Magic Land.” Of course bargaining is involved, but a good price from Sacre Coeur area is 1000 to 1500 CFA. It is past Sea Plaza and just to the left of the theme park, Magic Land. There is a large sign showing the entrance to the park. The lobby area is nice with different informational posters about the park. You have to take a colorful motorized canoe, called a pirogue, costing 5000 CFA per person, to get to the island. A guide comes with you to give a tour of the island. The guide costs 5000 CFA per group, so the more people you have, the less you will pay individually. The guide does a good job of telling interesting information about the island. The views are beautiful. It would be easy to take a picnic and make it a day event.
While CIEE takes you to this beautiful town and the artists’ colony, it is definitely worth going back to on your own time. There are lots of fairly cheap guest houses and AirBnBs. A taxi, which would take about an hour from Dakar to Toubab Dialaw, costs around 25,000 CFA ($50). Another option to get there is to go to Liberte 5 and take the Dakar Dem Dikk 213 to Rufisque and then another Dakar Dem Dikk 228 to Yenne. The first bus costs 250 CFA per person. The second bus goes all the way to Toubab Dialaw and costs 300 CFA per person. In total, the trip with the bus took 3 hours, but the ride was interesting.
Ile de Goree:
CIEE also takes the entire program to this historical island during orientation week. It was a slave trade center where millions of slaves were sent directly to America. It is a complicated and conflicting island with the large contrasts between the island’s beauty and its horrific history. I recommend going again with a smaller group of people. It was a very different experience with not as many people coming up to you asking you to buy goods. In order to get there, you can take a taxi to “le port.” You have to show your passport in order to get in. There is a small window after entering the main gate where you can purchase your ferry ticket for 5000 CFA per person. After entering the building, you wait until the ferry times that are located at www.portdakar.sn/en/nos-services/trafic-passager/dakar-goree. Once reaching the island, you can either hire a guide or adventure on your own. After walking about 5 minutes to the left of the island, you will find La Maison des Esclaves or the House of Slavec. It costs 250 CFA to 500 CFA to enter. I would recommend either having a guide or researching information beforehand so the history is better understood. The whole island has lots of stories and is interesting to walk around and discover. There are restaurants next to the water. When you are ready to leave, just look at the different available times and hop on the ferry. I believe this is a necessary place to go, atleast once.
While I haven’t made it to Lac Rose yet, it is most definitely on my bucket list of things to do in my last six weeks in Senegal. While it is more vibrantly pink when during the hot season, it is a popular destination. You can take the Tata 44, 67, or 61 from Les Voies de l’Alternance, the road that connects the VDN and Cheikh Anta Diop, to go to Post Thiaroye. Walk up a little northwest to get the Tata 73 from Thiaroye Gare. The 73 goes all the way to Lac Rose and it is the very last stop.
Concerts and other events:
Over spring break, Davido had a concert in Dakar at the Renaissance Monument. It was a little bit confusing figuring out how to buy tickets. The answers were at www.expat-dakar.com. Listed are lots of different events, concerts, festivals, and other things going on in Dakar. I was able to buy the tickets online and then went early to pick them up.
There are so many things to do in Dakar, lots of restaurants, markets, and other things to see. While these are just some suggestions, it is always fun discovering places on your own. Bon voyage!