Travel Postcard: 48 hours in Dakar, Senegal

Fri Jul 2, 2010 6:01am EDT
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By Daniel Magnowski

DAKAR (Reuters Life!) - Africa's most westerly point, Senegalese capital Dakar jams 2.5 million people onto a peninsula that spikes out into the Atlantic. Its heart is a ball of noise and pent-up energy fed by the sun, but the city breathes on its beaches.

Reuters correspondents with local knowledge help visitors get the most out of a 48-hour visit.


4:00 pm - The moment you cross the exit of the airport, don your shades and the mien of a seasoned, unflappable traveler as you cut through the crowd of hawkers, scammers and money-changers, somewhere among whom are taxi drivers. Once downtown in Plateau, close to the presidential palace and main square, take a walk and absorb Dakar at its most colorful. The largely Muslim city likes to dress up for Friday prayers, men and women dressed in the 'boubou', a traditional Senegalese robe worn in iridescent blues, pristine whites, and bold patterns adorned with sparkling trim.

6.00 pm - While it's still light, make it to the Almadies district and Le N'Gor Tapas, a peaceful seafront bar that sits above the breakers. Cool off with a bottle of chilled Gazelle, the better of the two local beers, or a nicely built mojito as the sun sets over the Atlantic.

9:00 pm - Not far away is Le Mogador (, one of a handful of restaurants which serve top-quality French cooking. There is little if any fusion between European and Senegalese cuisine, but the cultural influence of former colonial power France lingers in Dakar's best kitchens as much as in its language.

Dakar's dining scene, far superior to many other African capitals, grows more cosmopolitan every month. Take a look at, a popular local guide which keeps on top of new openings.

While eating, take advantage of what is practically year-round warmth well into the night to sit outdoors. Visitors in the June-September rainy season may find their balmy evening interrupted by apocalyptically violent rainstorms illuminated by lightning, an amazing sight to view from behind plate glass, but less fun to be caught in. 12:00 am - Traveling around, especially at night, can be an adventure. Most of the city's taxi drivers know only a few major landmarks from which everything else has to be triangulated, and street names beyond a couple of main roads are generally meaningless. Passengers should always agree on a fare in advance, a good-natured barter that routinely begins with an attempt to hugely overcharge Western visitors.   Continued...