Dakar – Africa’s liveliest city

Dakar is Africa’s most western capital city, and certainly one of its liveliest.    As soon as you step out into the city it’s a full on assault on all your senses.

Over 2 million inhabitants* make Dakar their home.  It’s a city of contrasts where big business lies uncomfortably alongside wretched poverty.  Sophisticated colonial buildings, a nod to the city’s past – the French ruled up until 1960*”-– are juxtaposed with the rough and ready of everyday street life.

One of the cheapest – and most entertaining ways! – to get around the city is to catch a car rapides (public minibuses).  The fare’s a bargain at 100CFA – that’s around just 40 cents – the only problem is it’s not easy to work out the route each one takes.

Sandaga is Dakar’s central market and a treasure trove of goods for sale.  Everything from fresh fruit and vegetables, meat and fish, to wood carvings and counterfeit goods are haggled over…

The  Senegalese pride themselves on their dress-sense and style…Friday – Holy Day – is the big day for putting your glad rags on.  The  boubous  (big billowing robes) are very popular, and it’s all about the colourful designs.

A  few  traveller’s ’ tips:

• The markets are great for getting a real flavour of the city.  Smile, use a bit of French, and haggle hard for a bargain!

• Dakar is expensive compared with other destinations in Africa and it can be difficult to find decent backpacker accommodation.  Splash out a bit more for a safe and undisturbed night’s sleep.

• Dakar can feel quite edgy.  Keep a close hold of your valuables, watch out for people trying to distract you and swipe your wallet at the same time.  And if you do get anything stolen, apparently the market in Colobane is the place to go and ask around and try to buy it back…!

Mbalax, reggae, hip hop, zouk, kora funk, afro…Music is HUGE in Senegal, it’s like the beating heart and soul of the country. Everywhere  you go there’s music pumping in the background,- a continual soundtrack to the main action.

The  unrivalled King of Mbalax, Youssou N’Dour has a club here and plays a set every Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

..Youssou is best known in the west for his collaborations with artists such as Nenah Cherry, Sting and Peter Gabriel, but here he’s much more,-  a cultural icon, a hero

Youssou started playing back in the ‘60s!. Mbalax is an intense mix of Cuban beats and traditional Sabar drumming* and you can’t help but shake your booty to it!