Dakar: the Senegalese capital at the westernmost tip of Africa
Not many destinations offer their own unique version of paradise; and while Dakar may not be one of the most famous, it is certainly among the most original.
Dakar is a city full of bright colours and markets, rustic 'art brut', sunny beaches, and modern restaurants serving world cuisine. It will surprise you with its varied storefronts and vibrant clothing styles, its large markets of fresh local fish and produce, the intense red earth that can rise up with the wind, and the lively street scenes in diverse neighbourhoods. This capital city is full of strong sensations and unusual encounters, bright-coloured spices and hard-working artisans. Stroll the streets of the centre of town, where there are new scents down every alley and hairdressers on every corner. Try the traditional spiced coffee, the'Café Touba', grab a sandwich at a street shop,or duck inside a restaurant for the most delicious European and Asian dishes. There is an honest hospitality here and many broad smiles. Life pulsates visibly around you in this feverish drama that is Dakar.
Dakar is on the westernmost tip of the African continent on the Cap-Vert peninsula jutting into the Atlantic and surrounded by the sea. Ride a wooden canoe over to the Island of Ngor, where you can admire the view from the hammocks that await you there. Visit the craft village of Soumbédioune on the shore, where you'll find sculptures made of recycled materials in a place crowded with the wooden canoes of local fishermen. Float down the Senegal River aboard one of these vessels and your whole vacation will have the accents of a trip back in time to the origins of the earth.
Just north of the city, less than an hour away, explore the pink waters of a lake where salt is collected or navigate the humid mangroves in search of rare birds performing legendary ballets. Take in the multi-coloured buses loaded with Senegalese travelling outside of the city on a pilgrimage or returning home after a day of work. And make the most of a tour of sleepy Saint-Louis with broad streets amid 19th-century buildings painted in all colours. Or travel south to the broad white sand beaches in laid-back Casamance.
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