The Beauty in West Africa- Celebrating Senegal at 57

So today happens to be Senegal’s independence day. The French speaking country West of Africa gained independence on April 4, 1960. Senegal is bordered by Mauritania in the north, Mali to the east, Guinea to the southeast, and Guinea-Bissau to the southwest. Senegal covers a land area of almost 197,000 square kilometres (76,000 sq mi) and has an estimated population of about 15 million. The climate is Sahelian, but there is a rainy season.

Senegal, the origin of former Liverpool winger El Hadji Diouf and Konvict Muzik boss, Akon,  is one of the easiest countries to visit in West Africa. While many tourists will be heading for cultural immersion in cities like Dakar and Saint Louis, the country is also blessed with plenty of natural attractions worth discovering.

To celebrate Senegal’s independence, NigeriaTravelsMart presents a collection of the beautiful sceneries from this country and some of her major delicacies. The sights- stunning beaches, incredible islands and unique wildlife is what you’d most definitely love. Senegal has not always been the top tourist destinations in Western Africa, but it absolutely should be.  The following are some of the top attractions that Senegal has to offer, and prove that you should absolutely visit Senegal as soon as earthly possible.

Niokolo Koba National Park

While Senegal isn’t known as a safari destination on the level of, say, Tanzania, you can still spot some beautiful wild creatures while in the country. Niokolo Koba National Park is one of those places and is filled with a variety of landscapes, crossed by the Gambia River. Inside the park, you’ll be able to spot hippo, antelope, crocodile and even a lion if you’re lucky.

      

Petite-Côte

This splendid stretch of beach is one of the most popular places in the country to visit. Tradewinds keep the dazzling white beaches cooler than spots farther inland, and the peaceful surrounds make a great side trip from Dakar. The area stretches for nearly 100 miles (160 kilometers) south from Dakar and is dotted with fishing villages, nature preserves, and pristine beaches.

                   

Bandia Reserve

If you head inland from the Petite-Côte, you’ll find the Bandia Reserve, a natural park with over 3,500 hectares of savannah. The reserve was established in 1990 and is the first working and enclosed breeding site for large animals in the country. Inside, you’ll be able to spot ostrich, monkeys, warthog, zebra, hippo and crocodile.

   

Djoudj National Bird Sanctuary

Located about 60km north of Saint-Louis, this park is the third largest ornithological park in the world. The site is also on the UNESCO World Heritage list and is a sanctuary for 1.5 million birds (including 400 species). The park’s most famous birds are the pelicans and flamingos, both of which are easy to spot.

                      

Lompoul Desert

You need not go all the way to Dubai to have a feel of the desert. Senegal isn’t all about mangroves and lagoons. If you venture south of St. Louis, waiting to welcome you is the Lompoul Desert. The orange-tinted dunes in the area are similar to what you’d fine in the Sahara. While there, you can take a hike over the dunes on foot or take it easy with the help of a camel, just like you would have it in Dubai.

                     

Lac Rose

Also known has Lake Retba or the Pink Lake of Senegal, Lac Rose is separated by some narrow dunes from the Atlantic Ocean and, as expected its salt content is very high. Its salinity content compares to that of the Dead Sea and during the dry season it exceeds it. Its distinct pink colour is caused by the Dunaliella salina bacteria, which is attracted by the lake’s salt content. The bacteria produces a red pigment in order to absorb the sunlight, thus giving the lake its unique colour. Its colour is especially visible during the dry season (which lasts from November to June) and less during the rainy season (July-October).  It’s a popular spot for swimming or boating through the other-worldly waters. The lake is currently under consideration to become a UNESCO World Heritage site.

      

Langue de Barbarie National Park

Home to ruins, pelicans, and sea turtles, this national park on an island is a fantastic place to see birds if you can’t make it all the way to Djoudj National Bird Sanctuary. The best time to visit is in February when many of the birds begin their nesting. The park is only 18km south of Saint-Louis so makes for an easy excursion.

             

Sine-Saloum Delta

For any lover of geography and landscape, you’d definitely appreciate this scenery. The Sine Saloum Delta is a UNESCO World Heritage site located a few hours south of Dakar and is without a doubt one of the best parks in Senegal. Covering 180,000 hectares, the delta contains hundreds of tributaries, islands, mangrove forests, and dry forest. Dozens of bird species inhabit these wetlands and close to 30 burial grounds have been excavated showing the rich history of human habitation as well.

                            

Your visit will be incomplete without feasting on any of the best dishes Senegal has to offer. We present to you;

Mafe  

Also known as groundnut stew is a stew or sauce of chicken, fish, or lamb simmered in peanut butter sauce with vegetables such as yuca, yams, potatoes, carrots, or turnips. This dish is also common to much of West Africa. It originates from the Mandinka and Bambara people of Mali. Variants of the dish appear in the cuisine of nations throughout West Africa and Central Africa. Main ingredients Meat (Lamb, beef, or chicken), tomatoes, onions, garlic, cabbage, leaf or root vegetables, peanuts

                               

Thiebou jen

 The traditional dish from Senegal is a spicy stuffed fish simmered with vegetables in tomato paste, tamarind, and habanero pepper, and served over broken rice.Other ingredients often include onions, carrots, cabbage, cassava and peanut oil. These ingredients are common in the country. The name of the dish comes from Wolof words meaning “rice” (ceeb) and “fish” (jën).

                                    

Yassa

A spicy dish of chicken or fish is prepared by marinating the chicken or fish in lemon/lime juice and onion and then grilled and caramelized. Originally from Senegal, yassa has become popular throughout West Africa. Chicken Yassa (known as yassa au poulet), prepared with onions and lemon, is a specialty from the Casamance region south of Senegal, and is one of the most popular recipes in West Africa.

                  

Banana fritters

A dessert of banana batter fried and sprinkled with sugar. This banana fritters are very light and yummy. It’s quite easy to make and I could see so many possibilities to make different variations like maybe dipping part of the fritter in chocolate or using very ripe plantains. I think you can get really creative with this recipe.

       

Salatu niebe

A colorful salad with black-eyed peas, which are native to Africa, tomatoes, cucumbers, and parsley.

      

 

 

With love from Nigeria, we say ,”Bonne indépendance Sénégal”.

 

Credits:

Dishes- Chef Pierre Thiam (Yolele)| Atmedia

Featured Images- AfkTravel| Whats4eats|Dakar-ca-bouge

Categories Tourism