Dakar is home to a dozen or so markets, each with its own specific characteristics and atmosphere.
Before you go to the beaches of the Petite Cote or head to the bush in Casamance, travel to Dakar, the country's capital. Dakar is a very pleasant city to live in and to visit. Each district certainly has its own charm, its own atmosphere to discover on foot or by taking a taxi; both are a real pleasure. The nights in Dakar are often very animated until the early hours. The markets, the shopping streets and the neighbourhoods are lively and you will be surprised to discover the different treasures offered on every street. From the Colobane market to the quiet streets of Ouakam or of Casamance Grand Yoff in the crowded Pikine, knowing Dakar and its suburbs in detail takes a little curiosity and the gift of the gab.
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Located nearly 2 miles off the coast of Dakar, Goree is one of the historical heritage sites of Senegal. Some houses with an architectural style dating back to the colonial era have remained in their original state. Goree has experienced Portuguese, English, Dutch and French colonisation. Today the island is unfortunately notorious for having been for centuries the main shipping point of slaves to the Americas. Many visit the island for its house of slaves, for its museums and its architecture, marking the legacy of a turbulent history; it is classified as a World Heritage Site and located 20 minutes from Dakar. Swimming here is delightful and the island has plenty of restaurants, inns and rooms to lodge with inhabitants. Also, remember to go to different markets in the capital such as the fish market of Soumbedioune on the western cliff road of Dakar, or the covered central market where fruit, vegetables, meat, fish and crustaceans are sold.
Dakar is a very pleasant city to live in and to visit. Each district certainly has its own charm, its own atmosphere to discover on foot or by taking a taxi; both are a real pleasure. The nights in Dakar are often very animated until the early hours. The markets, the shopping streets and the neighbourhoods are lively and you will be surprised to discover the different treasures offered on every street. From the Colobane market to the quiet streets of Ouakam or of Casamance Grand Yoff in the crowded Pikine, knowing Dakar and its suburbs in detail takes a little curiosity and the gift of the gab.
In Dakar, beware of pickpockets. With regards to bargaining, discuss and spend some time with the vendor and then the prices will fall naturally. Some beaches are banned because of very violent currents. The authorised beaches on Gorée are Terrou Bayle Sogui, Bernard Bay, Kussum, Court of Cassation, Terrou Bi, Ouakam, Al Mahdi, Almadies I, Almadies Point, Ngor Village, Island of Ngor, Yoff, Camberene, as well as two privately owned beaches. The unauthorised beaches are Hann, Parcelles Assainies, Côte d'Azur, Virage, Mermoz, Soumbédioune, Almadies II (reserved for surfing), Institut Pasteur, Clinique Des Mamelles, University and Lat Dior.
Drink only bottled or sterilised water. As for shopping, do not buy bags, shoes and belts made of crocodile to discourage poaching. Avoid the flock of tourists on the island of Goree. Choose to visit Goree against the flow of the crowd by leaving early in the morning or in the middle of the afternoon to return in the evening.
The national dish is the tiep-bou-diene, rice made flavoursome with vegetables and fish. Meat (beef, lamb, chicken) is served in a peanut sauce (mafe) or in a marinade (yassa). By the seaside, try the delicious seafood like oysters, prawns and lobster. Out in the bush, taste the game, the warthog in particular. The exotic fruits are varied and excellent such as mango, pawpaw, soursop, guava and ditakh. As for drinks, have a taste of bissap, palm wine or millet beer. In addition to the restaurants in Dakar, remember to taste the dishes on the Senegalese island of Goree, which has plenty of locally-run restaurants, inns and guesthouses.
An excursion to the markets is a real pleasure and a real adventure. The typical market of Sandaga, also the largest, is constantly busy and very popular. You will find all kinds of smells, sounds and colours amongst the merchandise, from fabrics, to handicrafts and souvenirs. Around the market, you can find all kinds of knick-knacks, textiles, leather goods, sculptures and wicker baskets. The market HLM 5 is one of the city's most interesting, along with the Tilène market. They are almost completely unknown to tourists, yet they deserve a visit. You will find everything from ready to wear clothes to vegetables and even wooden spoons and camcorders! But definitely go there to get your hands on the fabrics that can be turned into outfits, made-to-measure! The best designers work at the HLM 5 market and the choice of fabrics is the largest in the capital. Formerly known as 'the Moorish courtyard', the courtyard of the goldsmiths or the jewellers is situated not far from the centre, on Blaise Diagne Avenue. Here you will be able to find gold jewellery, silver and copper at very low prices.
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