Activities, Destinations January 14, 2020

Things to do in Dakar, Senegal

Dakar is the vibrant and bustling capital of Senegal, which is a country in West Africa. Here are 5 things to do in Dakar if you find yourself in this part of the world.

1. Gorée Island (Île de Gorée)

A stop on Gorée Island is a must no matter your reason for being in Senegal. The island is roughly a 20 minute boat ride from mainland Dakar. It is famous (or infamous) for being a stop along the slave trade. A must-see on the island is the House of Slaves (La Maison des Esclaves) in which can be seen the rooms where the slaves were kept. Men, women and children were kept separately and packed like sardines. The infant mortality rate was said to be very high as children were kept separately from their parents. Very sobering is the Door of No Return which was the final exit point of the slaves.

Door of no return
Door of No Return

2. African Renaissance Monument (Monument de la Renaissance Africaine)

Completed in 2010, this monument is roughly 160 ft tall and made of bronze. Interestingly, the African Renaissance Monument was built by a North Korean company in exchange for fishing licenses. This is apparently the tallest monument in Africa and is quite a sight to behold in person. It is taller than both the Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio and the Statue of Liberty in New York. It is possible to ride an internal elevator to the top of the monument and get a great view of the city. There is an entry fee for the elevator but it is free to walk around the base of the monument.

African Renaissance Monument
African Renaissance Monument

3. Pink Lake (Lac Rose)

Lac Rose is a lake roughly one hour outside Dakar. As its name suggests, the lake is pink and has high salinity of up to 40%. Its pink color is due to Dunaliella salina algae in the water which produce pink chlorophyll to protect them from the high salt content. The pink color is most intense in the dry season from November to June and between noon and 2 in the afternoon. Salt is mined here and exported throughout the region.

Pink Lake
Pink Lake

4. Westernmost point of Africa (Pointe des Almadies)

Of course, the Cape Verde islands are farther west than Dakar, but Dakar does have the westernmost point of mainland Africa called Pointe des Almadies. It is located on the Cap Vert peninsula of Senegal. The waves are excellent for surfing, if you’re into that. 

westernmost point of Africa
Signpost at the westernmost point of mainland Africa

5. Mamelles Lighthouse (Phares des Mamelles)

This lighthouse is located near the westernmost point of mainland Africa and has been operating since 1864. It is open to the public and guided tours are also available. It also has excellent panoramic views of the city including the nearby African Renaissance Monument.

Mamelles lighthouse
View from Mamelles Lighthouse

About the author

Dr Q: I am a traveler not a tourist. I have visited all 7 continents and over 60 countries.