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Senegal is a Francophone country in West Africa.



  • 1 Dakar : Capital city
  • 2 Saint-Louis : Former capital of Senegal and French West Africa
  • 3 Thiès :
  • 4 Kaolack :
  • 5 Ziguinchor :
  • 6 Tambacounda :
  • 7 Touba : Center of Mouride religious brotherhood
  • 8 Kafountine :
  • 9 Kedougou :

Other destinations

Ports and harbors Matam, PodorRichard TollDakar, Palmarin Places of religion and contemplation Keur Moussa, Touba, Tivaouane Interesting Islands Fadiout + Joal, Ile de Gorée, Karabane Nature reserves Niokolo-Koba, Delta du Saloum, Parc National des oiseaux du Djoudj, Reserve de Palmarin Stone circles Nioro du Rip, Keur Ali Lobé, Sali, Kau-Ur to Wassau, Ker Batch



Senegal has a tropical climate that is both hot and humid for much of the year. The rainy season, from May to November, has strong southeast winds while the dry season from December to April is dominated by the hot, but dry, harmattan wind. Lowlands are seasonally flooded and there are periodic droughts.


Generally low, rolling, plains rising to foothills in the southeast with the highest point only 581 m near Nepen Diakha.


Prehistory and Ancient Kingdoms

The earliest known human settlement in Senegal existed over 350,000 years ago. The Stone Circles of Senegambia (now World Heritage Sites) may date back as far as the 3rd century BC. Not a lot is known about the earliest civilizations, but there were many paleolithic and neolithic civilizations around the Senegal River.

The Tekrur Kingdom (Tekrour), formed around the Senegal River in Futa Toro (Fouta Toro), is one of the earliest recorded Sub-Saharan kingdoms. Although the exact formation date is unknown, historians believe it began in the early 9th century, around the same time as the Ghana Empire formed in the east. Parts of eastern Senegal were ruled by the Ghana Empire as it expanded but Tekrur was more concentrated in Senegal (although the southern regions were inhabited by ancestors of the Wolof). It was during Tekrur rule that Islam came to Senegal in the 11th century from the Almoravids in the north. The Tekrur rulers first converted to Islam and most of the kingdom soon followed. After the Almoravids attacked the Ghanaian Empire, it slowly lost power and influence, giving rise to the Mali Empire in 1235.

The Wolof Empire (Djolof) was formed in the 13th century from many smaller states to the south of Tekrur as a tributary state of the Mali Empire. Unlike their northern neighbors, they were not converted to Islam; they were animists. The Tekrur Kingdom was weak by this time, so the rising Wolof and Mali Empires exercised heavy influence over them (the Mali Empire also considered Tekrur to be a tributary state). The Wolof Empire obtained full independence from Mali in 1360 with its capital at Linguère and overtook territories to the south around the Gambia and established many groups as vassals, such as the Sine Kingdom in 1400. The Wolof Empire became quite powerful and at the height of its rule saw the arrival of the Portuguese.

Portuguese arrival and the fall of the Wolof Empire

The Portuguese were the first Europeans to arrive in Senegal at Goree Island in 1444. They were searching for a new spice route to India but soon established ports in Goree and on the Cap-Vert Peninsula (present-day Dakar). The Wolof and Portuguese established trade relations, providing wealth to the empire. Europeans paid good money for war captives (which they sent off as slaves), and the natives were able to bring the slaves to them so that they didn't have to go inland. Senegal was one of the most profitable ports early on in the slave trading business and the strong Wolof were able to sell many captives from weaker regions. Their tributary, the Sine Kingdom, was also quite actively involved in selling captives to the Portuguese. Members of the Waalo Kingdom (a Wolof vassal state) were commonly the victims of captive raids. Sometimes the Europeans incited wars in order to ensure more captives while in other cases, the money they paid was enough incentive for natives to start conflicts just to produce slaves.

While profits were great in the beginning, the Atlantic slave trade soon crippled the empire as the Cayor Kingdom separated from the Wolof in 1549 and the Sine Kingdom became independent in 1550, cutting the Wolof off from the coast and from trade and business with the Portuguese. Along with internal problems, the Wolof were also plagued by outside problems. As a former tributary state of the Mali Empire, the Wolof maintained strong ties with Mali through trade with the empire, but as the Songhai grew stronger, they seized much of Mali's territory, further isolating the Wolof. Furthermore, the Denianke Kingdom (Denanke) had taken over territories to the north, including Takrur, and had attacked the Wolof's northern territories, which they struggled to maintain. By 1600, the Wolof Empire had completely disbanded, although one of the territories remained a Wolof state.

French conquest

The location and success of trade in Senegal made it a hot commodity among Europeans. The Portuguese, British, French, and Dutch all wanted the territory, particularly Goree Island. In 1588 the Dutch were able to successfully overtake the Portuguese and expanded trade. France established its first post in Saint-Louis. The Dutch and French were both keen to take control of the other's territory and fears of the growing powers of the Dutch Republic came to a head in the Franco-Dutch War. The war actually took place in Europe, but while the Dutch defended their homeland, the French attacked Goree Island and ousted the Dutch from Senegal, claiming it for France in 1677.

When the British took the territory during the Napoleonic War, they abolished slavery in 1807. Upon its return to France, the French agreed not to reinstate slavery, so slave trade in Senegal fell sharply during the 19th century but its rich resources were still in demand, and the French soon went inland to claim the territory.

During the time Europe was fighting over the coastal settlements, the Senegalese still had control of the land. The Waalo Kingdom existed around the Saint-Louis trading post, so they had a treaty with the French in which the French would pay them for goods and they would provide protection for the traders. When French ambitions turned to colonisation, they started by conquering their Waalo allies in 1855. Around the same time, the Toucouleur Empire had conquered the Futa Toro, which formed out of an Islamic revolution among citizens in the Denianke Kingdom in 1776 who were tired of being persecuted. The Toucouleur unsuccessfully tried to drive out the French in 1857, and the Trarza from Mauritania who supported the Senegalese kingdoms were also threatening French advancement.

The French built a series of forts along the coast and river. The Trarza were told they would not be attacked as long as they stayed north of the Senegal River and they did, thereby allowing France to establish greater control over northern Senegal. The construction of the Dakar-Niger Railway made it much easier to maintain control of the region; Senegal was in French control by 1895 and officially became part of French West Africa in 1904.

French Senegal to independence

The French created the Grand Council of French West Africa to oversee the territories and only French citizens and citizens of the Four Communes in Senegal were able to become members. The colonized people were only considered to be French subjects, so they were prevented from gaining power. However, in 1914 Blaise Diagne was able to prove he was born in one of the communes (Saint-Louis) and became the first black man elected to oversee the colonies. He then passed a law to allow citizens of Dakar, Saint-Louis, Rufisque, and Goree to vote in French elections and he sent many West Africans to aid France in World War I.

Senegal and French Sudan (modern Mali) joined to form the Mali Federation in 1959. The following year, France agreed to give them independence and on June 20, 1960, it gained independence from France. Senegal soon defected from the Mali Federation and became an independent state in August 1960. Senegal briefly joined the Gambia to form the nation of Senegambia in 1982 but they separated before the year ended. Issues with separatists in the southern Casamance region of Senegal have occurred since the 1980s, but a treaty was signed in 2004 that has been upheld to this day.

Senegal is often praised for its incorporation of all its ethnic and religious groups into a peaceful society.


The Wolof are the largest ethnic group in Senegal forming 43% of the population. The Fula and Toucouler are the second biggest ethnic group forming 24% of the population. The Bassari and Bedick make up 9% of the population.

Senegal is officially secular but is a very largely Muslim country (92% of the population). The 7% of the population who are Christians included Léopold Senghor, Senegal's very influential and long-ruling first president. Quite a few other religions are represented among the remaining 1% of the population, including traditional African religions.


See also: Wolof phrasebook, French phrasebook

Wolof is the native language of some Senegalese people, but you will find that almost everyone speaks it. Knowing the basic Wolof greetings and phrases will go a long way in getting you better service and prices.

French is the official language and learnt by all Senegalese in school, so it is a very useful language for travellers to know. While some Senegalese merchants speak English, most business is conducted in French or Wolof. Other languages used in Senegal include Sereer, Soninke, Pulaar, Jola, and Mandinka.

The basic Muslim greeting is often used: Salaam Aleikum - Peace to you. The response is Waleikum Salaam - And unto you peace.

Get in

Entry requirements

Citizens of the following countries can enter Senegal without a visa: All EU citizens, Benin, Brazil, Burkina Faso, Canada, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, China, Republic of the Congo, Côte d'Ivoire, Djibouti, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, India, Japan, Kenya, Liberia, Malaysia, Mali, Mauritania, Mauritius, Morocco, Niger, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Singapore, South Korea, Togo, Tunisia, United States. Citizens of other countries must obtain an advance visa from their local Senegalese mission.

By plane

Blaise Diagne International Airport in Dakar opened in late 2017. The old Léopold Sédar Senghor International Airport that became too small for the increasing number of passengers still handles some international flights to nearby countries.

Delta Air Lines flies to Dakar on most of their US-Africa services, and service from JFK airport takes roughly 8 hours. South African Airways flies direct from New York and Washington-Dulles in just about 7 hours (8½ on the return trip). Other airlines route through Europe such as Brussels Airlines (Brussels), Air Senegal International (Paris-Orly), Air France (Paris-CDG), Alitalia (Milan), Royal Air Maroc (Casablanca), Iberia (Madrid, Gran Canaria), TAP (Lisbon) and others (5½ to 6 hours). There are flights from various parts of Africa operated by Kenya Airways (Nairobi), Air Ivoire (Abidjan) and others.

By car

It is possible but a little bit difficult to get into Senegal by car. Senegal prohibits the import of cars that are more than eight years old, but if you are only staying for a short while, and agree to take your car out of the country, you should (eventually) be allowed through, but this cannot be guaranteed.

Senegal allows the import of cars older than five years.

By train

A railway between Dakar and Bamako, Mali has fallen into disrepair and no longer runs. The line was fixed (although much of it remained original track from around 1918) in the 2000s and run with used carriages/locomotives from India, but operation became sporadic by the end of the decade and the operator went bankrupt. The trains only run within Dakar to the suburbs.

Get around

Taxi, taxi-brousse, taxi-clando, car-charette, and transport commun (cars rapides) Buslines in Dakar and around Dakar are maintained by SOTRAC (Société des Transports en commun de Cap Vert), now managed by a private company and called Dakar Demm Dikk. Car hire is available in Dakar (city and airport) and sometimes in MBour and Saly Portudal.

The main method of travel around the country is by sept places (from the French for "seven seats," literally questionable station wagons in which they will pack seven people so that you are basically sitting on the next person's lap throughout the journey). You can also come with a group and rent out an entire sept place, but this will be expensive. If you are obviously a tourist, they will try to rip you off, so make sure to set a price before you agree to a driver. If you want to travel more comfortably, buy 2 seats. There are set prices to often-travelled locations. The price per seat from Dakar to Ziguinchor, for example, is CFA9,500.

Keep in mind that if you wish to drive your own car, there are few street signs (mostly speed limits) and almost all of them are disregarded. Many streets are considered one way, but are never marked as such, and there are almost no stop signs. Heavy traffic areas such as Dakar are best left to experienced drivers and the bold. To get around, one must be willing to dart into traffic, or else, stay stuck at an intersection for a while.

A tollway near Dakar allows you to drive around Rufisque. Especially during peak hours, this is worth the CFA400 (for a regular car), as traffic jams in Rufisque can easily take up to 2 hours.


With arid desert and lush rainforests, Senegal boasts a stunning array of sights, sounds and flavours.

  • Lac Rose owes its name to its pink colouring for swimming and is also the terminus of the Dakar rally.
  • Parc National du Niokolo-Noba is one of Senegal's major national parks and an international biosphere reserve.


  • Fathala Reserve (at Karang just north of the border to Gambia), ? +221 776379455, ? sarra@orange.sn. open all year. Go on a 3-hour mini-safari in your own car or hire an off-road car at the reserve. You will see giraffes, rhinos, elands, antelopes, many birds CFA10,000. 



The currency of the country is the West African CFA franc, denoted CFA (ISO currency code: XOF). It's also used by seven other West African countries. It is interchangeable at par with the Central African CFA franc (XAF), which is used by six countries. Both currencies are fixed at a rate of 1 euro = 655.957 CFA francs.

The West African CFA franc is to be renamed the "eco" by the end of 2020. It would continue to be fixed to the euro.


Ecobank take Master Card and Visa card at their ATMs in Senegal. Outside major cities, ATMs are non-existent, and credit card transactions unheard of.


Tourist maps are available at the tourist offices.

International Driving Permit (IDP)

If you want to explore the country by car, you need one.


A yellow fever vaccine is required, together with the vaccination certificate, to enter Senegal. It is, however, not checked on a regular basis.

Mosquito repellents

Buy at least a mosquito net (preferably permethrin-impregnated) and a good repellent (preferably DEET-based). Permethrin can be washed into clothing and will remain in the garment for a month before the effectiveness of the product wears off and should be reapplied.


Be careful with food prepared by the road, as it could be cooked in unsanitary conditions. Western-style meals are available and can be found at restaurants in various parts of DakarThies, Saint Louis and other towns and near the big hotels in the Petite Côte and in some other touristic regions of the country, too.

If you want to try genuine Senegalese food, you can buy it at restaurants serving Senegalese dishes; or alternatively, you can make it yourself with the food gathered fresh from the markets or supermarkets.

The official dish of Senegal is ceebu jen (or thebou diene) -- rice and fish. It comes in two varieties (red and white -- named for the different sauces). The Senegalese love ceebu jen and will often ask if you've ever tried it, and it is definitely part of the experience. Even better if you get the chance to eat with your hands around the bowl with a Senegalese family! Keep your eyes out for the delicious, but elusive ceebu jen "diagga", which is served with extra sauce and fish balls.

Other common dishes are maafe, which is a rich, oily peanut-based sauce with meat that is served over white rice. Yassa is a delicious onion sauce that is often served over rice and chicken, yassa poulet or with deep fried fish yassa jen.


If you intend to explore the arid area of Senegal (Saint-Louis & Ferlo), you need to drink several liters of water a day. Even in Dakar, dehydration is possible during warmer months if you do not drink enough water each day.


There are many opportunities for people to make a difference in Senegal. Projects Abroad is a volunteer organisation based in St Louis with opportunities to help out teaching English, caring for underprivileged children, teaching sport or being a human rights advocate amongst other things. Volunteers get to stay with local host families, which is a huge honour.


It might also be a good idea to learn some basic Wolof, since not everybody can speak French. In addition there are many other languages such as Toucouleur, Serere, and Peul. However, almost everyone can speak Wolof. Therefore knowing Wolof would be a big help.

Stay safe

Although highly exaggerated, there is still fighting going on in the Casamance region of Senegal.

The "struggle" goes on between the government and the Mouvement des forces démocratiques de la Casamance (MFDC). It would be wise to avoid travel to this area. If this is not possible, at least first check with the embassy for the latest situation. To find out how much the situation has improved look at this IRIN News report: [1]

In Dakar, take care when walking the streets: petty theft and scams are abundant. You will be approached by aggressive street vendors who will follow you for several blocks. If refused, often accusations of 'racism" will be leveled at white non-local non-buyers. Also, pickpockets use the following two-person tactic: one (the distraction) will grab one of your legs while the other (the thief) goes into your pocket. If someone grabs your clothing, beware the person on the other side more. Wear pants/shorts with secure (buttons or snaps) pockets and leave your shirt untucked to cover your pockets.

Be cautious of people claiming to have met you before or offering to guide you. Oftentimes, you will be led to a remote location and robbed. Women need to be particularly alert as they are frequently targeted at beaches or markets.

Finally, there have been instances of street stall vendors grabbing cash out of non-local shoppers' hands and quickly stuffing the money into their own pocket. After the money is in their pocket, they claim it is theirs and the victim is not in a position to prove otherwise or protest effectively. Be careful with your cash: do not hold it in your hand while bargaining.

Be sure to carry some sort of identification on you. Police pull over vehicles and check for proper papers occasionally. If caught without your passport (a copy of a passport is recommended), the police may try to solicit a bribe from you; they may even go as far as to take you to the station. While most of the time, they are bluffing and one should not give into such corruption, some officials may be wicked enough to do so. Use this advice with caution. The simplest way to prevent this is just to carry identification.

Homosexuality is a big taboo in Senegal and punishable with 1 to 5 years imprisonment. LGBT travellers should be extremely cautious. Do not tell anyone about your sexual orientation!

Stay healthy

Get necessary vaccines before arrival. Officially, certification of yellow fever vaccine is required upon arrival if coming from a country in a yellow fever zone, but it is not commonly checked.

Take anti-malarials.

Avoid tap water and all dishes prepared with it. Bottled water, such as Kirene which is most common and bottled in Senegal, is widely available and inexpensive.

To prevent serious effects of dehydration, it is wise to carry around packets of rehydration salts to mix with water, should you become dehydrated. These are widely available at pharmacies and are inexpensive. Alternatively, a proper mix of table salt and sugar can replace these.


The primary religion in Senegal is Islam, and most Senegalese are extremely devout Muslims. It's important to be respectful of this because religion is very important in Senegalese life. However, don't be afraid to ask questions about Islam -- for the most part, Senegalese people love to talk about it!

Greet everyone when entering a room with "Salaam Aleikum." Always shake hands with everyone. Do not enter mosques and other religious places wearing shoes.

Foreign women can expect to get many marriage proposals from Senegalese men. Handle this with a sense of humour - and caution.

As far as dress goes, be aware that anything shorter than knee length is inappropriate. Tank tops are generally accepted in larger towns, but should be avoided as much as possible.

The Senegalese are a very friendly and hospitable group of people. In order to ensure receiving their friendliness, please follow the steps below.

Always greet and ask how their day is going.

Shake hands as a greeting. Warning – there are some men and women from a specific Muslim sect (hibadou) that do not touch members of the opposite sex. Do not be offended if a member of the opposite sex does not shake your hand, it is their culture. Instead clasp your hands together and clutch them to your heart in greeting.

Never use your left hand to shake hands or give something to someone. It is not respectful. If you have gotten close to a person it is custom to shake their left hand when parting for long periods of time.It is a wrong that must be corrected at some point in the future, so it is a way of saying that you will see each other again someday.

Never tell a Senegalese that he/she is lying, even if you know they are. It is considered very rude.

As a tourist, you will be asked by many people to give money or gifts. Even if you want to, please do not give out money, candy, pens, etc. By giving local people items you could be making them dependent on foreigners and their aid. This also encourages the harassment of tourists and hurts tourism in the region.This can cause an already fragile economy to falter even more. If you really want to give something to the community, please go to the local schools, the écogardes at the park, or ask the campement owners where you are staying if they can help you. The principal can distribute school supplies to children most in need.

School supplies needed by children:

Notebooks Pens (blue, red, green) Folders Binders Protractor Compass (for drawing circles) Triangle Ruler Colored pencils Pencil sharpener Pencils Erasers Books in French (If you have any that you are no longer want please bring them along and donate them to a local school. Books in Senegal are very expensive! Even books in English or other languages are welcome as students may be studying a foreign language.)

It costs CFA 4,500 plus school supplies to send a child to school for one year. That is a very small price to pay but when you have 10 - 20 kids that are dependent on one provider it is impossible to send them all to school.

People from developed countries in general carry a lot of guilt because of the income gap. Please don’t let that guilt continue to hold Africa back. Because of donations that were made on the street, tourists have be swarmed by people asking for things. These people may not leave the refuge of the campement again, therefore spend no money in town. These practices can harm the local economy.

Candy is a treat that parents can easily afford. Kids eat a lot of candy the way it is. Dental hygiene is not the same in Africa as it is in developed countries. Most people never go to a dentist and many children and adults have rotting teeth early in life. If you do choose to give a treat give fruit! And please remember, the greatest gift you can give is an education.

When it is OK to give to beggars:

  • Talibè - these are the small beggar boys on the street. They are Quranic students (studying the Quran - Islam). They are sent to live with marabouts (religious leaders), sometimes far from their homes. They are very young ranging in age from 4 years old to the early teens. They are supposed to be begging for food (not money) but times have changed. Some marabouts exploit the kids and they spend more time begging out on the street than they do studying the Quran. Most do not go to regular school and this may be the only education they receive. If you feel the need to give something to a talebè, please consider donating a piece of fruit or some food they do not have to cook, like a piece of bread. If you donate money you could be contributing to the further exploitation of children.
  • Disabled and elderly people - These people are common beggars and do need your help. Even Senegalese people give to these beggars. If you feel like contributing money to someone these people can use your assistance. They are usually found in the larger cities - not towns. They have obvious disabilities or are old, they are not usually young, healthy individuals.
  • Baye Falls - These young men dress very unusually. They carry gourdes or small, plastic dishes, have dreadlocks that are usually under a large stocking cap, wear clothing that is either tie-dyed or are patches or strips of fabric sown together. They are asking for money to help build a mosque or other causes for their religion.

Beware: In some cities and towns there are scam artists who ask tourists to take them to the store and purchase large amounts of groceries. In general, do not trust these people as they are usually working aged and in good health. They may just want a free ride. Use your best judgment, but many of them will say they have a sick child or other problems to make you feel bad and want to help them. Some may even appear well dressed and educated - just be wary.


Exercise a high degree of caution; see also regional advisories.

The decision to travel is your responsibility. You are also responsible for your personal safety abroad. The Government of Canada takes the safety and security of Canadians abroad very seriously and provides credible and timely information in its Travel Advice. In the event of a crisis situation that requires evacuation, the Government of Canada’s policy is to provide safe transportation to the closest safe location. The Government of Canada will assist you in leaving a country or a region as a last resort, when all means of commercial or personal transportation have been exhausted. This service is provided on a cost-recovery basis. Onward travel is at your personal expense. Situations vary from one location to another, and there may be constraints on government resources that will limit the ability of the Government of Canada to provide assistance, particularly in countries or regions where the potential for violent conflict or political instability is high.

Casamance (see Advisory)

The current security situation in the Casamance region is highly unstable due to the threat of armed attacks and highway robbery. The situation is exacerbated by the persistent risk of clashes between Senegalese forces and rebels of the MFDC (Mouvement des Forces Démocratiques de Casamance). Anti-personnel mines remain a danger in Basse-Casamance, where incidents are regularly reported. South of Ziguinchor, near the border with Guinea-Bissau, demining zones have been identified and demining operations are under way. The entire region remains affected by incidents involving presumed separatist groups and armed gangs.
In general, travel on all roads in the region west of the city of Kolda is not recommended, with the exception of the road between Ziguinchor and Cap Skirring. Travel to the north around the Gambian border and to the south around the Guinea-Bissau border is very dangerous and is not recommended. DFAIT advises maintaining a high level of vigilance and personal security awareness when travelling by road east of Kolda. Any overland travel within or to these exceptional areas should be undertaken strictly on main roads during daylight hours only, ideally in convoy and with reputable carriers or tour operators.

Guinean border area

Exercise caution in the Guinean border area as the Senegalese authorities may at any time implement stricter controls in this area, including roadblocks at which travellers will be required to identify themselves.

Border areas with The Gambia and Guinea-Bissau

Roads near the border with The Gambia are not safe. Armed attacks on travellers have been reported recently, including in the Sedoba region. There is also tension near the border with Guinea-Bissau, in the areas of Ziguinchor, Nyassia and Niagha.

Increased threat of attacks and kidnappings

In 2013, the French military assisted the Malian government in efforts to repel armed rebels. Terrorist groups in the region declared their intention to increase attacks and kidnappings targeting Westerners. While the United Nations peacekeeping mission in Mali has been supporting the transitional authorities in stabilizing the region since July 2013, citizens of countries supporting the intervention are still at particular risk, but all travellers should exercise increased vigilance in the region.


Violent robberies may occur in the main cities, particularly Dakar. Remain vigilant when travelling, protect travel documents, avoid displays of affluence, and stay away from isolated places, particularly at night.

Exercise caution in the arrivals and departures areas at the airport, especially after dark. These areas are often crowded, and travellers are regularly approached or get rushed by strangers. Many hotels offer a free shuttle service. Ensure that you confirm the identity of the person welcoming you at the airport to confirm that he or she was sent by the hotel.

The Gorée pier is a favourite spot for pickpockets. Avoid displaying valuable items on your person. Keep your bags close to you, remain vigilant and do not stop to talk with people who call out to you.

In Dakar, armed robberies are becoming more frequent in homes, on the Corniche road and at the beach. In general, assaults take place early in the morning and after dusk. Avoid walking on the Corniche road in the evening, especially on the eastern and western Corniche, between the Olympic Club and the Mosque of the Divinity. Also avoid strolling along the beach at the end of the day.

Demonstrations and strikes

Country-wide strikes and demonstrations are common and can suddenly turn violent. Avoid large public gatherings and demonstrations. Stay away from places where these could occur and follow the advice of local authorities at all times. Monitor the local media and other sources of information to keep abreast of any security threats, demonstrations, public gatherings or labour strikes.


You are advised always to carry photo identification, as well as a certified copy of your passport. The authorities may conduct checks at any time.

Road travel

Main roads are in good condition, but travel after dark can be difficult because of poor lighting. Most secondary roads require a four-wheel-drive vehicle, particularly in the rainy season.

The presence of pedestrians and animals, combined with bad driving habits and poorly maintained vehicles, makes local driving conditions difficult.

It is advisable to report a road accident as soon as possible to the nearest police station, in order to avoid any conflict between the parties involved. In the event of personal injury or death, drivers are detained until a judge determines responsibility. If you are driving a rental car, both you and the rental company will be held responsible.

Public transportation

Avoid using public transportation if the vehicle appears overcrowded or poorly maintained.

Taxis are often badly driven and can be poorly maintained. Use regulated taxis only, and agree on the fare beforehand.

Consult our Transportation FAQ in order to verify if national airlines meet safety standards.


Cases of attempted fraud are frequently reported in Senegal. See our Overseas Fraud page for more information on scams abroad.

General safety information

Use only reputable and professional guides or tour operators, and choose well-established accommodations. Visits to wildlife parks should also be arranged only through reputable tour operators. Ensure that you always follow park rules.


Related Travel Health Notices
Consult a health care provider or visit a travel health clinic preferably six weeks before you travel.

Routine Vaccines

Be sure that your routine vaccines are up-to-date regardless of your travel destination.

Vaccines to Consider

You may be at risk for these vaccine-preventable diseases while travelling in this country. Talk to your travel health provider about which ones are right for you.

Hepatitis A

Hepatitis A is a disease of the liver spread by contaminated food or water. All those travelling to regions with a risk of hepatitis A infection should get vaccinated.

Hepatitis B

Hepatitis B is a disease of the liver spread through blood or other bodily fluids. Travellers who may be exposed (e.g., through sexual contact, medical treatment or occupational exposure) should get vaccinated.


Seasonal influenza occurs worldwide. The flu season usually runs from November to April in the northern hemisphere, between April and October in the southern hemisphere and year round in the tropics. Influenza (flu) is caused by a virus spread from person to person when they cough or sneeze or through personal contact with unwashed hands. Get the flu shot.


Measles occurs worldwide but is a common disease in developing countries, particularly in parts of Africa and Asia. Measles is a highly contagious disease. Be sure your vaccination against measles is up-to-date regardless of the travel destination.


This country is in the African Meningitis Belt, an area where there are many cases of meningococcal disease. Meningococcal disease (meningitis) is a serious and sometimes fatal infection of the tissue around the brain and the spinal cord. Travellers who may be at high risk should consider getting vaccinated. High-risk travellers include those living or working with the local population (e.g., health care workers), those travelling to crowded areas or taking part in large gatherings, or those travelling for a longer period of time.


There is a risk of polio in this country. Be sure that your vaccination against polio is up-to-date.


Rabies is a disease that attacks the central nervous system spread to humans through a bite, scratch or lick from a rabid animal. Vaccination should be considered for travellers going to areas where rabies exists and who have a high risk of exposure (i.e., close contact with animals, occupational risk, and children).


Typhoid is a bacterial infection spread by contaminated food or water. Risk is higher among travellers going to rural areas, visiting friends and relatives, or with weakened immune systems. Travellers visiting regions with typhoid risk, especially those exposed to places with poor sanitation should consider getting vaccinated.

Yellow Fever Vaccination

Yellow fever is a disease caused by the bite of an infected mosquito.

Travellers get vaccinated either because it is required to enter a country or because it is recommended for their protection.

* It is important to note that country entry requirements may not reflect your risk of yellow fever at your destination. It is recommended that you contact the nearest diplomatic or consular office of the destination(s) you will be visiting to verify any additional entry requirements.
  • There is a risk of yellow fever in this country.
Country Entry Requirement*
  • Proof of vaccination is required if you are coming from a country where yellow fever occurs.
  • Vaccination is recommended.
  • Discuss travel plans, activities, and destinations with a health care provider.
  • Protect yourself from mosquito bites.

Food and Water-borne Diseases

Travellers to any destination in the world can develop travellers' diarrhea from consuming contaminated water or food.

In some areas in West Africa, food and water can also carry diseases like cholera, hepatitis A, schistosomiasis and typhoid. Practise safe food and water precautions while travelling in West Africa. Remember: Boil it, cook it, peel it, or leave it!


Schistosomiasis is caused by blood flukes (tiny worms) spread to humans through contaminated water. The eggs of the worms can cause stomach illnesses like diarrhea and cramps or urinary problems. Risk is generally low for most travellers. Avoid swimming in contaminated water. There is no vaccine available for schistosomiasis.

Travellers' diarrhea
  • Travellers' diarrhea is the most common illness affecting travellers. It is spread from eating or drinking contaminated food or water.
  • Risk of developing travellers’ diarrhea increases when travelling in regions with poor sanitation. Practise safe food and water precautions.
  • The most important treatment for travellers' diarrhea is rehydration (drinking lots of fluids). Carry oral rehydration salts when travelling.


Insects and Illness

In some areas in West Africa, certain insects carry and spread diseases like African trypanosomiasis (sleeping sickness), chikungunya, Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever, dengue fever, leishmaniasis, lymphatic filariasis, malaria, onchocerciasis, Rift Valley feverWest Nile virus and yellow fever.

Travellers are advised to take precautions against bites.

Dengue fever
  • Dengue fever occurs in this country. Dengue fever is a viral disease that can cause severe flu-like symptoms. In some cases it leads to dengue haemorrhagic fever, which can be fatal.  
  • Mosquitoes carrying dengue bite during the daytime. They breed in standing water and are often found in urban areas.
  • Protect yourself from mosquito bites. There is no vaccine available for dengue fever.



  • There is a risk of malaria throughout the year in the whole country.
  • Malaria is a serious and occasionally fatal disease that is spread by mosquitoes. There is no vaccine against malaria.
  • Protect yourself from mosquito bites. This includes covering up, using insect repellent and staying in well-screened air-conditioned accommodations. You may also consider sleeping under an insecticide-treated bednet or pre-treating travel gear with insecticides.
  • See a health care provider or visit a travel health clinic, preferably six weeks before you travel to discuss the benefits of taking antimalarial medication and to determine which one to take.


Animals and Illness

Travellers are cautioned to avoid contact with animals, including dogs, monkeys, snakes, rodents, birds, and bats. Certain infections found in some areas in West Africa, like avian influenza and rabies, can be shared between humans and animals.


Person-to-Person Infections

Crowded conditions can increase your risk of certain illnesses. Remember to wash your hands often and practice proper cough and sneeze etiquette to avoid colds, the flu and other illnesses.

Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and HIV are spread through blood and bodily fluids; practise safer sex.


HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) is a virus that attacks and impairs the immune system, resulting in a chronic, progressive illness known as AIDS (Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome). 

Practise safe sex while travelling, and don’t share needles, razors, or other objects which could transmit infection.

Remember that HIV can also be spread through the use of unsterile medical equipment during medical and dental procedures, tattooing, body piercing or acupuncture. Diseases can also be spread though blood transfusions and organ transplantation if the blood or organs are not screened for HIV or other blood-borne pathogens.


Tuberculosis is an infection caused by bacteria and usually affects the lungs.

For most travellers the risk of tuberculosis is low.

Travellers who may be at high risk while travelling in regions with risk of tuberculosis should discuss pre- and post-travel options with a health care provider.

High-risk travellers include those visiting or working in prisons, refugee camps, homeless shelters, or hospitals, or travellers visiting friends and relatives.

Medical services and facilities

Medical services and facilities

Medical facilities are adequate in the capital, Dakar, but are limited elsewhere.


Keep in Mind...

The decision to travel is the sole responsibility of the traveller. The traveller is also responsible for his or her own personal safety.

Be prepared. Do not expect medical services to be the same as in Canada. Pack a travel health kit, especially if you will be travelling away from major city centres.

You are subject to local laws. Consult our Arrest and Detention page for more information.

Laws and illegal activities

Driving under the influence of alcohol is illegal. Convicted offenders are subject to a jail sentence, a fine or both.

Possession, use or trafficking of illegal drugs may result in long jail sentences, heavy fines or both.

It is prohibited to photograph government buildings, airports or other official facilities.

Homosexual activity is a criminal offence and could result in a prison sentence of one to five years.

Dress and behaviour

Exercise common sense and discretion in dress and behaviour. Respect religious and social traditions to avoid offending local sensitivities.


During the lunar month of Ramadan (the ninth month of the Muslim calendar), use discretion when drinking, eating, and smoking in public between sunrise and sunset. This year, Ramadan is expected to begin on or around July 9, 2013. 

Border crossings

Bribe requests from border officials have sparked violent incidents at Diama, one of the official land border crossings into Mauritania. Do not cross the Senegal River by private pirogue; to do so is illegal and dangerous.

Customs formalities

Some items, including auto parts, computers and computer parts, stereo equipment, tape players, tools, and video cameras and players, are subject to strict customs regulations and cannot be brought into the country without clearance by Senegalese authorities. Contact the Embassy of the Republic of Senegal for further information on customs requirements.


The currency is the African Financial Community CFA franc (or XOF bank code).

Avoid exchanging large quantities of CFA francs for foreign currency from other than reputable exchange bureaus.

Automated banking machines are widespread and reliable in Dakar, although withdrawal limits may be quite low.

Credit cards are rarely accepted except by major hotels, travel agencies and airline companies. Credit card cash advances can be obtained, but are time-consuming to complete.


The rainy seasons extend from August to September in the western, northwestern and northern regions and from July to September in the central and eastern regions. Heavy rains and tropical storms during these periods can make roads impassable. Follow regional weather forecasts and plan accordingly.

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