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  • Overview

    Situated on the tip of the Cap Vert Peninsula in western Africa, Dakar teems with life and boasts luxurious hotels, a wide range of restaurants, beaches and water sports, a casino, and an active nightlife scene. This modern capital is also one of the busiest ports for cruise ships in Africa.

    After three centuries of French colonial rule, Senegal became independent in 1960. Before independence the city of Dakar was the capital of French West Africa, it has been the capital of the independent Republic since then. The country has retained strong ties with France and the French influence remains in the architecture of the city, where well preserved colonial buildings, the monumental government house and café terraces stand testimony to its history.

    For lovers of history, Gorée Island, a UNESCO Historical Monument, is a must-see. Here the painful history of Senegal's slave trade comes alive in 'La Maison des Enclaves' with its cells, shackles, and the slave dealer's apartments, as well as 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 and of 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 kids and Lake Retba is also an interesting sight for visitors of all ages, where tourists can watch the traditional salt harvesters at work.

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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.
    Fascilities: 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.

    Useful Contacts:

    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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