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  • Overview

    Located on the north-western bulge of Africa, thesmall Republic of Senegal sits on the Atlantic Ocean betweenGuinea-Bissau and Mauritania, almost entirely enclosed within itsneighbour, Gambia.

    The sun shines almost all year round on Senegal'shundreds of miles of beautiful beaches, estuaries, mangrove swamps,savannah, and a semi-desert in the north. The Casamance region, astrip of land stretching from east to west across the country belowThe Gambia, boasts some of the best beaches in West Africa, and isone of the most popular regions of Senegal. Here tourists canexperience a vision of tropical splendour with lush forests,coconut palm groves, brilliant flame trees, and bougainvillea, aswell as warm waters on the endless stretches of sandy beaches. Amultitude of hotels bordering the beaches make coastal Casamance aholiday paradise for visitors.

    In contrast, the modern capital city of Dakar,situated on the tip of the Cap Vert peninsula, is a vibrant hive oflocal and international activity. Here businessmen rub shoulderswith tourists, but visitors will also find traditionally dressedSenegalese amid the smorgasbord of gleaming hotels, cafes,colourful open-air markets, and the medina (old quarter). Just twomiles (3km) offshore lies Gorée, an island that was the mostimportant slave depot in West Africa between the 16th and 19thcenturies.

    Not only does Senegal offer seaside resorts, afascinating history, and a modern business infrastructure, butnational parks rich in flora and fauna, excellent scuba-diving andfishing opportunities, a diversity of cultures and customs, and awarm welcome by its people who adhere to the traditional values ofrespect for others, good manners, and hospitality.

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    English Pronounciation

    Dakar is in a tropical climate situation, but the characteristicheat and humidity are moderated in the city by cool breezes. Therainy season, between July and October, brings heavy downpoursalong with strong south-easterly winds. The dry season, fromDecember to May, is exacerbated by the hot, dry harmattanwinds.

    The weather is generally hot and humid all year. There are twoseasons: the rainy season from June to October and the dry seasonbetween November and May. Humidity is highest during the rainyseason and sea temperatures are warmer during this period. Rainfallvaries from 12 inches (300mm) in the extreme north to 59 inches(1,500mm) in the far south, and although showers don't last verylong they can cause disruption to transport. Dry seasontemperatures average between 72°F and 86°F (22°C and 30°C). Dakartemperatures average 75° F (24°C) from January to March, 77° F to81° F (25°C to 27°C) in April, May and December, and 86° F (30°C)between June and October.

    Dakar-Yoff-Léopold Sédar Senghor InternationalAirport
    Location: The airport is situated six miles (9km) fromDakar.
    Time: GMT.
    Getting to the city: Line 8 public transport buses Dakar Dem Dikk takes passengersfrom the airport to downtown Dakar with various stops includingYoff, Patte d'Oie, Grand Yoff, or University Cheikh Anta Diop.Buses depart every 10 minutes from 6am to 8.30pm. Taxis areavailable outside the departures hall, however passengers areadvised get a taxi on the road outside the airport as these chargemuch lower rates. Hotels often arrange transport for theirguests.
    Car Rental: Car rental agencies represented at the airport include Hertz,National, Avis and Senegal Auto.
    Airport Taxis: Taxis are available 24 hours a day outside the terminal. They donot have a meter and must be negotiated with the driver beforeentering the vehicle.
    Fascilities: Facilities at the airport include currency exchange, leftluggage facilities, restaurants, duty-free shopping, a tourist helpdesk, baggage trolleys, and an airport hotel.
    Parking Two car parks are available. One is free located 200 meters fromthe airport entrance. The second park is located in front of theairport terminal. It costs $1 for the first hour and increases 50cents every hour.
    Money:

    The official currency is the West African CFA Franc (XOF), whichis divided into 100 centimes. Only currency issued by the Bank ofWest African States (Banque des Etats de l'Afrique de l'Ouest) isconsidered valid. There are ATMs in Dakar, but banking facilitiesare limited in the rest of the country. Credit cards are onlyaccepted by major establishments catering to the tourist trade,with American Express being the most widely accepted; commission ischarged. Travellers cheques can be cashed in Dakar.

    Language:

    The official language is French, but there are six othernational languages spoken, including Wolof, which is the mostwidely used, as well as numerous other dialects.

    Electricity:

    Electrical current is 220 volts, 50Hz. Round two-pinattachment plugs are in use.

    Entry Requirements:

    US nationals must have a passport valid for a minimum of threemonths beyond the period of intended stay. No visa required for amaximum stay of up to 90 days.

    UK nationals must have a passport valid for a minimum of threemonths from the date of arrival. No visa required for a maximumstay of up to 90 days.

    Canadian nationals must have a passport valid for a minimum ofthree months from the date of arrival. No visa required for amaximum stay of up to 90 days.

    Australian nationals must have a passport valid for a minimum ofthree months from the date of arrival. A visa is required.

    South African nationals must have a passport valid for a minimumof three months from the date of arrival. A visa is required.

    Irish nationals must have a passport valid for a minimum ofthree months from the date of arrival. No visa required for amaximum stay of up to 90 days.

    US nationals must have a passport valid for a minimum of threemonths beyond the period of intended stay. No visa required for amaximum stay of up to 90 days.

    New Zealand nationals must have a passport valid for a minimumof three months from the date of arrival. A visa is required.

    Passport/Visa Note:Visa:

    All visitors must either hold a return or onward ticket and alldocuments for the next destination. Passports must be valid for atleast three months on entry; however, it is highly recommended thatpassports have at least six months validity remaining after theintended date of departure from Senegal. Immigration officialssometimes apply different rules to those stated by travel agentsand official sources.

    Travel Health:

    Stomach troubles are the most common health concerns fortravellers in Senegal. Visitors should watch what they eat anddrink: do not drink untreated tap water. Protection againstmosquito bites is essential as malaria, dengue fever, andchikungunya fever occur; malaria is prevalent throughout thecountry and prophylaxis is recommended for all travellers. A yellowfever vaccination is a requirement for entry to Senegal if comingfrom an infected area, but all travellers should be vaccinatedagainst yellow fever as a precaution. Other recommendedvaccinations include hepatitis A, polio, tetanus, and typhoid.Outbreaks of meningococcal infections occur and vaccination isrecommended for travel during the dry season (November to May).Outbreaks of cholera also occur. There is a risk of bilharzia, andvisitors should avoid contact with stagnant, fresh water.

    Medical facilities are good in Dakar, but are limited in therest of the country. Travellers should ensure they havecomprehensive health insurance.

    Tipping:

    Larger hotels and restaurants usually include a service chargeof 10 to 15 percent. Taxi drivers are not usually tipped.

    Safety Information:

    Most visits to Senegal are trouble-free, but street crime andpick-pocketing, especially in Dakar, are common. Visitors areadvised to conceal valuables from the public eye. Travel by road inthe Casamance region west of Kolda is unsafe due to the activitiesof separatist rebel groups and bandits, and should be avoided.

    Local Customs:

    The majority of the population is Muslim and it is generally aconservative society where dress and behaviour should be modest,especially outside the main tourist areas. Public displays ofaffection between men and women should be avoided, and acts ofhomosexuality are illegal. Drunkenness is offensive. Religiouscustoms should be respected, particularly during the holy month ofRamadan when eating, drinking, and smoking are prohibited by theMuslim faith; visitors should avoid eating and drinking in publicduring this time.

    Business:

    In Senegal, it is expected of the visitor to dress formally.Greetings are very important in Senegal and the visitor must ensurethat every member at the meeting is greeted and acknowledged atleast once. The shaking of hands is the standard greeting for menand women in business. It is a good idea to be punctual even if thehost is not. Meetings can often take longer than anticipated andpatience may prove a virtue. Business is usually conducted inFrench and a translator may be needed, although many Senegalesebusinessmen will know some English. It is important to find outbeforehand how the contacts are to be addressed. Business hours aregenerally 8am to 5pm Monday to Friday with an hour taken overlunch.

    Communications:

    The international dialling code for Senegal is +221. Theoutgoing code is 00 followed by the relevant country code (e.g.0027 for South Africa). No city/area codes are required. Senegal'stelephone system is one of the most developed in Africa, and thereare numerous telephone centres for making both local andinternational calls. Mobile phone operators provide GSM 900 cellphone coverage. Cybercafes offer Internet connections in the maincities.

    Duty Free:

    Travellers to Senegal over 18 years do not have to pay duty on200 cigarettes, 50 cigars or 250g tobacco or tobacco products; 1bottle of perfume for personal use; gifts to the value of CFA5,000; and one bottle of spirits.

    Useful Contacts:

    Ministry of Tourism, Dakar: Tel.: +221 (0)33 860 45 15 / 77 55252 44 or www.au-senegal.com

    Senegal Embassies:

    Embassy of Senegal, Washington DC: +1 202 234 0540.

    Embassy of Senegal, London (also responsible for Ireland): Tel:+(44) 20 7937 7237.

    Embassy of Senegal, Ottawa: +1 613 238 6392.

    Embassy of Senegal, Pretoria, South Africa: +27 (0)12 4605263.

    Consulate-General of Senegal, Melbourne: +61 (0)3 9348 0466.

    Foreign Embassies in Senegal :

    United States Embassy, Dakar: +221 (0)33 879 4000.

    British Embassy, Dakar: +221 (0)33 823 7392.

    Canadian Embassy, Dakar (also responsible for Australia): +221(0)33 889 4700.

    Senegal Emergency Numbers : 17 (Police); 15 (Ambulance); 18 (Fire)
    Senegal

    Buses and minibuses operate on the main routes linking Dakar toother principal cities and towns in Senegal. The most common formof transportation is the - colourfully painted vehicles that are often verycrowded and sometimes unsafe. The bus system is fairly reliable,however there are no system maps so travellers are left to figurethe routes out on their own. Taxis are also available and it isbest to negotiate the fare before leaving; foreigners are oftencharged exorbitant rates, so it is best to consult a local for anestimated fare. Car rental agencies operate from Dakar, but ratesare often very high.