Senegal is in the extreme west of the African continent, at the edge of the Atlantic Ocean. It is a sahelian country, primarily flat, bordered on the north by Mauritania, the east by Mali, the south by Guinea-Bissau, and crossed in the center by Gambia. Consult the maps of the different regions of the country.
During the dry season, from November to February, the temperature remains rather fresh, and the ocean's too! Between March and May, the climate remains dry, but the temperatures climb, especially in the interior of the country. The raining season which stretches out from June to October, can cause some problems with the transportation in certain regions, but this is also when the vegetation relives. The rain only lasts a few hours per day in general.
All the major airlines (in particular Air France, Iberia, Alitalia, and South African Airways) and several charters ensure regular connections with Dakar. Count between five and six hours of flight time with a price roaming around 400 euros for a round trip Paris Dakar.
By road, it is possible, by crossing Morocco and Mauritania. First get information on what forms are required to cross both countries. In Mauritania, you must have a guide and a good vehicle to follow the coast between Nouhadibou and Nouakchott.
Sunshine guaranteed! Senegal is one of the sunniest countries in the world (more than 3.000 hours of sun per year). Two seasons can be distinguished:
- The rainy season, that goes from June to October, with an important amount of precipitation from the south to the north;
- The dry season, from November to May, with temperatures ranging from 22°C to 30°C, with a significant variation between the littoral and the interior of the country.
On the littoral, especially between Saint-Louis and Dakar, the trade winds that blow along the coast cause a drop in temperature.
In Dakar, the maximum average temperature is 24°C from January to March. During the months of April, May and December they stay between 25 to 27°C. From June to October, the temperatures can reach 30°C.
The Djoudj National Bird Sanctuary (French: Parc national des oiseaux du Djoudj) lies on the southeast bank of the River Senegal in Senegal, north east of St-Louis. It provides a range of wetland habitats which prove very popular with migrating birds, many of which have just crossed the Sahara. Of almost 400 species of birds, the most visible are pelicans and flamingos. Less conspicuous are the Aquatic Warblers migrating here from Europe; for these, the park is the single most important wintering site yet discovered. A wide range of wildlife also inhabits the park, which is designated a World Heritage Site. The site was added to the list of World Heritage Sites in Danger in 2000 due to the introduction of the invasive giant salvinia plant, which threatens to choke out the park's native vegetation. However it was removed from the list in 2006
The Niokolo-Koba National Park lies in south eastern Senegal against the Guinean border. It was inscribed as a World Heritage Site in 1981. Inscription on the List of World Heritage in Danger: 2007
The Gambia River flows through the national park, which is known for its wildlife, including elephants, lions, leopards, chimpanzees, baboons, hippopotomii and the Western giant eland.
Vegetation varies from a southern Sudanian type Guineano with savannah predominant, more luxuriant vegetation along the course of the rivers and a varying cover of trees and bushes. This vegetation changes its character according to topography and soils.In the valleys and plains there are vast areas of Vetiveria and herbaceous savannas dominated by Andropogon gayanus, occasionally associated with Panicum anabaptistum. Seasonally-flooded grassland is typically composed of Paspalum arbiculare and Echinochloa. Dry forest is made up of Sudanian species, such as Piliostigma thonningii, Pterocarpus erinaceus, Pericopsis africana, Bombax costatum, Burkea africana, Prosopis africana, Sterculia setigera, Ficus ingens and Anogeissus leiocarpus. There are also areas of bamboo Oxytenanthera abyssinica. In ravines and gallery forests species indicative of a south Guinean climate are present, with lianes very abundant, and species such as Raphia sudanica, Baissea multiflora, Nauclea latifolia, Dalbergia saxatilis, and Landolphia dulcis. On slopes and hills, rock outcrops, alluvial sands and iron pans, the vegetation is different. On the edges of rivers semi-aquatic species, such as Rotula aquatica, Hygrophila odora, Cyperus baikiei, occur and annuals, which disappear when the water level rises, are found in the periodically-flooded sands. In and around the marshes, most of which are situated in abandoned riverbeds or behind the levees, the vegetation is very variable, depending on the height of the depression, water level, origins, soil structure and sub-soil. Certain ponds are bordered by dry forests, or herbaceous savannas, with species such as Arundinella ecklonii, Eriochrysis brachypogon, Hemarthria altissima, Hyparrhenia amaena, Vetiveria nigritana, and Andropogon gayanus depending on dampness and soil compaction. Occasionally, the center of a marsh is occupied by thick thorn bushes of Mimosa pigra. Marshes on higher ground have a reduced surface area and scanty soil, very acid and peaty, and vegetation includes Oryza brachiyantha (a wild rice), Bryaspis lupulina, Adelostemma senegalense, Berchemia discolor, and Genlisea africana. On high banks Acacia nilotica, Crateva religiosa, Diospyros mespiliformis and Ziziphus mucronata are dominant, and localized species, such as Christiana africa, Cola laurifolia, Croton scarciessii, Cynometra vogelii, Diospyros elliotii, Syzygium guineense, Symmeria paniculata, and Ziziphus amphibia occur on constantly humid low banks. River bank species also include Khaya senegalensis, Erythrophleum suaveoleus, Ceiba pentandra, Detarium senegalense, Syzygium guineense, Afzelia africana, and Borassus. Some 1,500 plant species have been recorded and the listing continues.
There are abot 80 species of mammal, 330 species of bird, 36 reptiles, 20 amphibians, and 60 species of fish recorded, as well as numerous invertebrates. Carnivores include leopard Panthera pardus, lion P. leo, and wild dog Lycaon pictus (V). There are also buffalo Syncerus caffer, roan Hippotragus equinus, giant eland Taurotragus derbianus (about 1,000), Guinea baboon Papio papio, green monkey Cercopithecus aethiops sabaeus, patas monkey Erythrocebus patas, bay colobus Colobus badius temmincki, all three African crocodiles: Nile Crocodylus niloticus, slender-snouted C. cataphractus (V) and dwarf Osteolaemus tetraspis, four tortoise species, and hippopotamus Hippopotamus amphibius, which is present in all three large watercourses in the park. The park is the last refuge in Senegal for giraffe Giraffa camelopardalis and elephant Loxodonta africana (V). About 150 chimpanzee Pan troglodytes (V) live in the gallery forest of the park and on Mont Assirik (the north-western limit of their distribution). Birds include Denham's bustard Neotis cafra denhami, ground hornbill Bucorvus abyssinicus, violet turaco Musophaga violacea, spur-winged goose Plectropterus gambensis, white-faced tree duck Dendrocygna viduata, martial eagle Polemaetus bellicosus and bateleur Terathopius ecaudatus.
COUNTRY UNWRITTEN RULES
Each country has its code of conduct, its form of politeness, its practices, often quite different from ours. Here is a small memo to help you in understanding...
The greetings are very important: in Senegal people say "hello" all the time, to everyone, even with someone they have never seen before and may never see again. The "Salamaleikum" (reply "Aleikum Salam") is a good form. Do not hesitate to inquire about the family, even if you do not know them. One finishes by a "Alhamdoulilahi".
The behaviors: to show your legs (for girls, but also for boys) is badly viewed by Muslims. So avoid wearing shorts and miniskirts. On the other hand you can openly breastfeed your baby, this will not shock anyone.
The meals: the meal is normally ate while squatting or sitting on a small stool, in a family dish, often using your hands. Take off your shoes before you walk on the mat, wash your hands and only use your right hand, the left hand is reserved for another usage. Before you start eating, wait until the head (male or female) of the house has pronounced the "Bismilahi". Drink only once the main dish is finished. For the guest, the mistress of the house will remove the fish bones or give the guest the best pieces : do not be embarrassed.
The tea : the tea ceremony is very significant : if you except the first cup, you must go to the third one, which is the sweetest. Count an hour or two.
The first objective of bargaining is not to reduce the price. It acts above all to create an exchange. Take your time, talk of other things, clearly express yourself. The longer will be the discussion, and the more esteem you will have for your interlocutor.
Calling out: to call someone on the street, hail a taxi, are call out with a "PSSST". This is not impolite, as opposed to what some could believe, … and is very efficient (in general everyone on the street will turn!).
Islam and the prayers: Islam requires five daily prayers, at precise hours after the ritual ablutions. Do not be surprised if you see certain persons washing their feet, heads, and hands on the curbs, or that a shopkeeper leaves its customer without warning to pray behind the counter. Be patient, all this is normal.
Begging and alms: you will undoubtedly be surprised by the number of beggars, many are handicapped by the polio or leprosy. Give them some change if you can, and especially a big smile. Give to someone at least once a day is the Islam recommendation. Once you have given the first alms of the day, you can tell all other beggars that : "egg na" that means "it has arrived" (the alms has arrived in the sky).
Thing you should never do
• Step over someone that is laying down.
• Put your bag directly on the ground
• Buy charcoal, salt, pepper, spices, needles, razor blades after night has fallen (this can attract bad spirits).
• For a man to sit on a mortar.
• To eat with your left hand.
• Walk on a mat with your shoes.
What you should always do
• Say hello before all things.
• Ask whats new with the family.
• Greet elders with respect.
• Give a coin to a beggar at least once during the day.
• Drink your tea without making a "slurp".
• Escort your visitor at least a few steps when they leave.
Check the frequently questions