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Impressions of Senegal

In general reasonably good roads, tasty local kitchen, especially for those who appreciate fish and seafood, and above all proud but friendly, smiling people. That is what Senegal has on offer beyond its natural beauty of landscapes, dotted with villages, large and small ones, differing in aspect from tribe to tribe. Animism is still the rule in many of these, although Islam came to this part of the world around 1040 and Christianity some 400 years later with the first Portuguese coastal trade factories. 18th and 19th century Brotherhoods, such as Muridiyyah and Tijaniyyah, made Senegal's religious balance tilt heavily towards Islam, particularly in the larger cities, but the world can learn something here when it comes to peaceful and tolerant coexistence. A refreshing thought, an extra boost to a travel experience which is at any rate enriching and fascinating for its variety: rivers and estuaries with magnificent bird life, dusty villages of pure authenticity and colourful markets, incredible landscapes dominated by giant kapok and baobab trees, a couple of game parks, although admittedly of modest importance compared to those in East Africa. And through it all, the lines of history of local kingdoms and traditions and of colonial realisations and tragedy. For, after all, this part of West Africa has always been in the eye of the slave trade storm, be it for local rival tribes routinely selling one another into Arab slavery across the Sahara, or for the Portuguese, French, Dutch and British who 'industrialised' the abominable practice with their transatlantic slave ships. The traces of the latter are still distinctly visible, on the island of Gorée, a pilgrimage any visitor to Senegal should make.

And as Senegal is a large country and we tried to cover most of it, we split up the report in five headings:

1- Dakar and Gorée

2- North of Dakar

3- Eastern Senegal

4- Casamance

5- Petite Côte (South of Dakar)

Casamance mangroves – birds & dolphins

Before visiting the place of your choice:

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