If you’ve been following along, you know this girl is a big fan of the Western countries on the Motherland. Two of the lesser traveled countries, but two of my absolute favorites, are Senegal and Sierra Leone. With beautiful coastlines, fabulous food, and vibes for days, these West African nations are worthy additions to your list of vacations to take! Here’s a list of 15 things to do in Senegal and Sierra Leone.
1. Phare des Mamelles - This place is an experience. Featuring a restaurant on top of a hill by the lighthouse with views over the ocean, Phare des Mamelles has the atmosphere, views, and delicious food. Not hungry? Try the museum, souvenir shop, or a live music event instead!
2. African Renaissance Monument - one of the highest monuments in Africa - huge at 160 feet! This monument, commissioned for the 50 years of Senegal independence celebrations, features 208 stairs of pain just to get to the bottom, but they’re worth it! It has a museum inside, and you can climb more stairs to the top for a view of Dakar like nowhere else.
3. Mosquée de la Divinité - located in a fishing village by the beach, this mosque issurrounded by fishing boats. Not open to non-Muslim guests, the exterior is worth a trip anyway - it is breathtaking! Over 96 percent of the Senegalese population are Muslim, and in picturesque surroundings overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, this mosque is just one of the many places of worship to be found here.
4. The Jungle @thejungle_dkr - This place features cute decor, good vibes, great views, and delicious drinks, and the grilled fish was perfection! A great place to start your evening off right.
5. Le Carre - This is a great place to move the night along. Drinks flowing and DJ jamming - this place was on fire - literally! Their shots on fire were fun but a little out of control for this girl!
6. Seven Seven Dakar - is one of the Sankofa sisters' faves, the bartender @fabi._ink is incredible, and his drinks are amazing.
7. Cosmo beach club - this place is poppin at 2am… but earlier in the night, it’s empty. Great place to finish off your Senegalese night out!
8. Boma - live music and vibes alllll day. People don’t dance in Senegal, though. Locals tend to sit around smoking hookah and chillin…. But you know your girl is always lit when the beats drop! If you like to get your groove on, be prepared to hit the town in the early hours, or go it alone on the dancefloor earlier in the night.
Senegal hot travel tip - the airport is ~1hr drive from central Dakar, and there are several security checks to go through if flying internationally, so plan accordingly!
Arrive - catch a 20-minute bus to the ferry, then ferry to Freetown… or drive 200km. The Seacoach Express does it in 30 minutes, the regular ferry takes an hour or so. Currency exchange is better through locals than the airport, but be warned - everything takes time, so plan for a long day getting to your accommodation.
9. Empire - good music, and people dance! They even played one of my favorite songs as we walked in the door.
10. Tacugama Chimpanzee Sanctuary - a 45-minute drive up the mountain, with gorgeous views all the way, this place is amazing. Costs about $10 USD to enter, and while a few international organizations sponsor it, it is money well spent for the conservation work they do. The Chimpanzee is the national animal of Sierra Leone. Wear closed-toe, comfy shoes because you will walllllk. And the ground is mostly uneven.
11. Leicester Peak - beautiful views in every direction had us stopping for photo ops… a great place to pause and take in the sights and sounds of Salone.
12. St John’s Maroon Church - built by former Jamaican slaves, this Methodist church is one of the oldest in the country. Built of clay, shell, and white lime, with boards and metal from slave ships, the church is 214 years old.
13. Big market, Freetown - This market is reason enough to head to Salone - just make sure to go with empty suitcases cos you will for sure need the space on your way home! I
ain’t mad, though - the bags, fabrics, jewelry, and clothing you will find here are worth it!
14. Toma Resort, Aberdeen - this place is a whole vibe! With a drummer on site, this is the place to go if you want to get your body moving.
15. Hawawa boutique - Owned by Miss Universe 2016 @hawawa_hawa_turay, this boutique is something special. With gorgeous clothing and some of the most spectacular jewelry I’ve seen, not only is this boutique a feast for your eyes, but the hospitality cannot be beaten.
West Africa is always a great trip, with incredible history, amazing hospitality, great food, drinks, beats, scenery, and shopping to be had. No matter what you are looking for on your vacation, Sierra Leone and Senegal are bound to deliver. What gets you excited about traveling to these gorgeous nations?