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  • Overview

    Situated on the tip of the Cape Verde Peninsula in western Senegal, Dakar is a surprisingly lively and bustling capital. It boasts luxurious hotels, beaches and watersports, as well as casinos, a wide range of restaurants and an active nightlife scene. This modern metro is also one of the busiest ports for cruise ships in Africa.

    Dakar has always been the capital city of the country, including during the three centuries of French colonialism and also since independence in 1960. The country has retained strong ties with France, with strong French influence still visible in the architecture of the city, where well-preserved colonial buildings, the monumental government house and café terraces stand testimony to its past.

    For history enthusiasts, Gorée Island, a UNESCO Historical Monument, is a must-see. Here, the painful and violent truths of Senegal's slave trade past comes alive in 'La Maison des Enclaves' with its cells, shackles and slave dealers' apartments. There are also the many museums housed in former slave houses, and the forts built to protect the lucrative business.

    The architecture in central Dakar is an attraction in itself; there are some beautiful buildings in and around the city, including the city's cathedral and grand mosque. However, the most famous site in Dakar is the controversial African Renaissance Monument, a massive sculpture representing Africa's emergence from slavery and colonialism.

    Another great way to enjoy an afternoon in Dakar is by browsing the busy markets or having a picnic in one of the beautiful parks. Hann Park and Zoo is a great place to take the kids, and the astonishing colours of Lake Retba make for a beautiful and intriguing sight for visitors of all ages.

    Dakar is a mixture of the old and the new, retaining its traditional values while also developing into the country's main economic hub. Those interested in the history of the region will not be disappointed, as it actively engages and explores its history under slavery and colonial oppression.

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    Dakar is in a tropical climate situation, but the characteristic heat and humidity are moderated in the city by cool breezes. The rainy season, between July and October, brings heavy downpours along with strong south-easterly winds. The dry season, from December to May, is exacerbated by the hot, dry harmattan winds.

    Dakar-Yoff-Léopold Sédar Senghor International Airport
    Location: The airport is situated six miles (9km) from Dakar.
    Time: GMT.
    Getting to the city: Line 8 public transport buses Dakar Dem Dikk takes passengers from the airport to downtown Dakar with various stops including Yoff, Patte d'Oie, Grand Yoff, or University Cheikh Anta Diop. Buses depart every 10 minutes from 6am to 8.30pm. Taxis are available outside the departures hall, however passengers are advised get a taxi on the road outside the airport as these charge much lower rates. Hotels often arrange transport for their guests.
    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 do not have a meter and must be negotiated with the driver before entering the vehicle.
    Facilities: Facilities at the airport include currency exchange, left luggage facilities, restaurants, duty-free shopping, a tourist help desk, baggage trolleys, and an airport hotel.
    Parking Two car parks are available. One is free located 200 meters from the airport entrance. The second park is located in front of the airport terminal. It costs $1 for the first hour and increases 50 cents every hour.

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

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