We decided to go to Senegal based on a DNA test. Earlier last year Tim and I did the ancestry DNA test. Surprise surprise I am like 98% European (mostly Germany). Tim found out that he had matches in Western Africa. One of the areas being Senegal. So we decided to visit Dakar, Senegal for our last stop in Africa. This was a much different stop than our previous countries in Africa.
We took an extremely long flight from Vic Falls to Johannesburg to Dakar and got in really late. The hustle was strong as soon as we stepped out of the airport. I learned quickly to research estimated cab/bus prices from airports/train stations to our accommodations. There are hustlers everywhere preying on tourists. Dakar was no exception. After a bit of an argument and price changes we finally had a driver.
Our first day we spent exploring the city with a stop in the large market. This market was blocks long and wide. This was by far one of the worst market experiences we have had. I understand everyone wants to make a buck but these guys were relentless. At one point we were being followed by two or three men trying to sell us something in each stall we passed. I don’t know how many times we told them to leave us alone or back up. We finally just left the market. It was the most unpleasant experience ever.
When we arrived back at the hotel we were in the lobby making a game plan for the next few days and met Papa who had his own tour company. He catered to our needs and created a two day tour for us. The next day him and the driver picked us up at the hotel and we took off to Lake Retba or the Pink Lake.
The Lake Retba has a higher salt content than the Dead Sea. When the sun shines the salt/iron in the water makes a pink reflection on the water. The pictures I have seen on the internet were pepto pink. I was excited to see it in person. Sadly, it was raining and cloudy all day. No pink lake for us. It did have a slight orange tint to it when you were up close to it. I’m not so sure the lake is ever a pepto pink color even if the sun is shining. I call shenanigans and photo editing on those pictures I have seen.
Anyhow, we had a local take us out in boat to where the men collect the salt. The men take their boat out to the middle and shovel the salt into the boat and bring it to shore for the women to unload it for sale. These men fill their boats up till the weight makes the lake almost comes over the side of the boat. We were told about one ton worth. It was interesting to watch this process.
Back at shore we headed off to the beach area of the lake. I am sure you have seen pictures of videos of people floating in the Dead Sea. With a salt content higher then the Dead Sea we should have the same results here.
We entered the water and it felt like a silicon gel. As we got deeper you could feel yourself getting buoyant. As soon as you picked your feet up off the ground your feet popped right up to the surface and you were flat on our back. You weren’t floating at the top of the water like in a pool. You were almost floating ON TOP of the water. As you tried to stand back up you had to fight with the water to get your legs underneath you.
I’m so glad we decided to get into the water even if it meant you were going to have to take a “shower” where a man threw buckets of cold fresh water at you as you tried to get the “gel” off of you.
After lunch we headed back to Dakar for a trip to Goree Island. Goree Island was used as a slave trading center for men, women and children who were to be shipped off to Europe and the Americas. The slave house is still there today. We toured the island and the house and saw where they were held against their will.
The slave ship would pull into the back of the house were it would be filled with people that were sold to other countries. As you exit the door you could get on the boat or jump to your fate in the ocean pulling anyone that was chained to you down with you. Such a sad and horrible experience they went through.
One of the other stops on Goree Island was a sand art studio. Here we were given a demonstration of how the sand paintings are made. The artist would paint on the glue, add the colored sand, wait for it to dry, add more glue and different colored sand. The paintings were beautiful.
The next day we spent it with Papa driving around the city of Dakar. Our first stop was the Grand Mosque. There is a school attached to it as well. We were visiting at the end of Ramadan and they were getting ready for the celebration.
We stopped at the African Renaissance Monument. The bronze statue sits on top of a hill overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. It is said that the child is reaching for the bright future while the women is pointing behind to remind them of their past. This statue was much bigger than I had imagined.
Since we had a horrible market experience the day we arrived Papa told as he would take us and we would be left alone. Sure enough no one bothered us. We had a great time exploring the market and his cousins fabric shop. The clothes they were making for the Ramadan celebration were amazing.
Senegal was a an interesting and an eye opening experience. To see more of our time in Senegal check out the Galleries page!