We said we’d do follow up posts on the Dakar trip, so here we go 🙂
If you’re thinking of adding Dakar, to your Africa to do list, here are 4 interesting things to note before embarking on your trip:
Got your visa? got your flight ticket? sorted accommodation? ready to go? what about vaccinations!!!????
Yeah, travelling Africa will require you to do certain vaccinations. These are for your benefit at the end of the day. So, although it may seem cumbersome to sort out, depending on where you live, it’s better to be safe than sorry.
One pre-requisite health wise for Dakar is a yellow fever vaccination. You will need an authentic yellow fever card (proof that you have been vaccinated against yellow fever). So, make sure you do the vaccination at least 2 weeks before travelling. The vaccination is valid for 10years and most African countries (if not all) may require you to have done this prior to arrival.
Mosquito nets should also become your bestfriends when you get there. Why? the mosquitos there are relentless! so check that your accommodation have some and cover up!
English is not widely (or narrowly spoken) in either urban or rural areas in Dakar. So, brush up on your conversational French 🙂 unless, you know “Wollof” – the local dialect.
Learn the basics like:
“how much?” for negotiating things from cabs to souvenirs! never accept the first or second price quoted lol! seriously though!! go lower!
“how do I get to..?” or “where is….?” for asking for directions
“can I have….? for ordering things at restaurants, shops, etc
Moving around Dakar, the perception we got from our trip was, “it’s pretty safe”. You’d typically find foreigners and locals strolling along streets, on the beaches, and even exercising. This was different compared to some other countries we’ve been to where foreigners are carted around with security escorts etc.
Travelling alone, especially as a female, opens you up to all kinds of attention from everyone! we don’t think it’s normal to have solo female travellers travelling around (at least West) Africa. We got asked if we were visiting for business, A LOT!
So, if you’re a female thinking to do Dakar, perhaps go with a friend or do your social research first. Find friends in your networks (check Facebook, linkedin etc) living or working in Dakar, or ones who might be interested in doing the trip with you.
If you have none, search expat communities for locals or other travel communities for other solo travellers and connect. Having a local resident will help in navigating the city and for authentic recommendations as well.
*we say this purely depending on your comfort level. a lot of people are very confident and very social and can get on in any environment. So, if that’s you ignore these bits about finding a travel companion and just take the leap.
EVERYTHING Starts Late!
There’s this sense of “que se ra se ra“! no one is particularly in a hurry …from the style of driving, the pace of walking, etc like you would typically find in big cities. This translates to other things including the social scene.
If you’ve travelled around Europe, you will be familiar with how late the social scene starts, and it’s the same in Dakar! The clubs don’t fill up till about 3am. Restaurants don’t fill up till about 8:30pm/9pm.
The good thing about this is you can do the touristy things in the day time, get back to your accommodation and rest up before heading back out for any evening festivities.
In the next post we’ll share our local recommendations for the social and tourist scenes.