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Senegal – From a Traditional African Perspective

I know many will agree when I say that sometimes, it is the lesser known countries that hold the greatest wonders.Have you ever wondered where some of your clothes and food came from? Look no further than Senegal. This country in West Africa is not only an incredibly successful centre for worldwide trade but also boasts some elegant topography that will have you dancing and singing to the beat of the Sabar drum. There is so much to do and see in this country; UNESCO world heritage sites to learn about, national parks to discover, islands to explore, statues to marvel at and so much more - make sure you bring your camera to capture some unforgettable experiences!

Experience the history of the Isle of Gorée

Senegal is undoubtedly a country that holds a lot of dark, however, intriguing history. The Isle of Gorée is a UNESCO listed world heritage site; situated just off the coast of Senegal, this solitary island was once the largest slave-trading centre on the African coast. Separation of the slave traders and slaves is very distinct- this becomes apparent upon arriving on the island and seeing the perfectly preserved architecture, you immediately see the state of the dilapidated slave quarters as compared to the wonderfully crafted houses that belonged to the slave traders. The Island of Gorée was listed on the World Heritage List in 1978 and is now considered a pilgrimage for those who wish to see the reminder that it holds for the exploitation of humans, not to mention the cultural history that is prevalent.

Run with the wildlife at Niokola-Koba National Park

If you ever visit, you must be sure to plan a trip to a national park to feel the topography of the country up close. Spanning an astronomical 913,000 hectares, the Niokola-Koba National Park runs alongside the banks of the Gambia River and is almost like a natural city of its own. Here you can find a rich array of gallant wildlife such as elephants, birds, antelopes, lions, leopards, amphibians- the list goes on. 

If plant life is more suited to you – then Niokola-Koba is also home to some of the most incredible ecosystems. Habited by major rivers such as the Gambia River, Koulontou River, Niokolo River and the Sereko River, those who visit will find themselves wandering amongst the diversity of plant life such as grass floodplains, rocky slopes, dry forests and ponds. When visiting Senegal, visiting this phenomenal national park is a must; you will be entranced by the beauty it has to offer- it is no wonder that the Niokola-Koba National Park is a listed UNESCO world heritage site.

See the African Renaissance Monument

Towering at 160 feet, the African Renaissance Monument is a monumental representation of Senegal emerging from years of slavery and independence from France. After 4 years of construction, the statue was inaugurated in 2010, depicting a man holding a baby in one arm whilst guiding his woman with the other. You can take an elevator inside of the statue that travels to the top of the man’s head, providing an unparalleled view across Dakar.

Go bird spotting at Djoudj Bird Sanctuary

Be sure to take a trip to the Senegal River delta and cast your eyes upon the staggering scope of birdlife that dwell within the Djoudj Bird Sanctuary. Many species of birds from all over the world migrate here for the winter, amongst those that do include waterfowl. With the introduction of dams in the sanctuary, saltwater flooding no longer occurs. Water birds are often seen, with species ranging from 222,000 garganeys, 120,000 pintails, 120,000 ruffs and 36,000 white-faced tree duck.

Why not see another outstanding national park? 

Another fine example of a great national park in Senegal would be the Saloum Delta National Park. Situated in the delta of the Sine and Saloum rivers, the park spans 76,000 hectares and lies within an 180,000 hectare reserve. Birds flock here for the winter include the Eurasian Spoonbill, Curlew Sandpiper, Ruddy Turnstone and Royal Tern. Sand dunes, open forests, coastal waters and sand islands also characterize the area, providing some of the most stunning views imaginable.

Dance to the beat of the Sabar Drum

Immerse yourself in the liveliness of the traditional music that Senegal has to offer. Known as the Sabar drum, it is played with one hand and one stick and was traditionally used to communicate with other villages and could be heard for over 15 kilometers. Sabar dancing is based around femininity that expresses flirtatiousness; every part of the body is used. It is usually performed at celebrations and is highly energetic.

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