Tour to Senegal: Ethnic groups between the savannah and forests
We will travel in eight different means of transportation, each chosen to discover different natural environments: from comfortable air-conditioned minibus to rustic 4WD vehicles and the traditional calash, from the ferry-boat to the liner-ship, local boats and the local bush taxi, to end up with a domestic flight flying over large estuaries and the Atlantic coast.
A comfortable expedition from North to South in a crescendo of changing landscapes:
from the dunes of the southern edge of Sahara to the arid savannahs of Ferlo discovering one of the most important ornithological reserves in the world and large rivers and forests.
Crossing these very different ecosystems we will get to know the principal religions and cultures of the African continent.
Infinite horizons of the savannas of the north with enormous herds of zebu and the fascinating Peul nomads.
Saint Louis, a small colonial city built on islands in the estuary of the Senegal river,
Fishing villages that daily challenge the ocean on large pirogues full of colours.
The Mouride Sufi brotherhood, with a sacred and theocratic city.
In the South, the “sacred forests” where the animist initiations, the priest-kings, the mask dancing, take place.
- Duration: 9 days
- Guide: english speaking
Dakar, the capital
Arrival in Dakar, assistance and transfer to the hotel. Free time to relax.
Dunes of the southern edge of Sahara
In the morning, visit to the centre of Dakar, large and vibrant African metropolis that was the cultural and intellectual capital of West French Africa
After lunch, we drive by minibus to the Lampoul Desert.
Saint Louis, a charming town
We continue to Saint Louis, an old charming town that as for its history and its colonial and vibrant atmosphere deserves a separate chapter. Saint Louis, on the banks of the estuary of the river Senegal, was an outpost of the French colonial penetration. From the river arrived spices, slaves, gold, gum arabic. The city is built on two large islands between the river and the ocean. Thanks to this ventilated climatic and advantageous situation, the presence of European merchants was constant, even before the colonial period.
Between ornithology and the nomad universe
Morning departure to discover a humid and isolated ecosystem: the Djoudj National Park, a natural oasis formed by hundreds of miles of partially flooded lands, is the best habitat and nesting site of over a million migratory and sedentary birds, has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
After having lunch in a local restaurant we will head towards the Ferlo Desert. We will leave the asphalt road to discover the arid region where nomadic Fulani tribes herds large droves of zebu.
Touba and the Mouride Brotherhood
The arrival of a group of western travellers is an unusual event in the sacred town of Touba: this is the right place to appreciate the hospitality of an African brotherhood. During the annual festival the town is visited by four million pilgrims. Continuation to Lac Rose, a shallow saltwater lake surrounded by dunes, also known as Lac Retba. The water is ten times saltier than in the ocean and because of the high concentration of minerals the lake often shimmers into pink. More than 600 workers here collect salt in the traditional way. For the more adventurous, possibility to go for a “swim”, or rather a float, in the lake waters.
Morning: spectacular 4WD excursion driving on the beach between waves and sand for miles to discover the largest fisherman village in Senegal: more than 4500 wooden pirogues bring every day to the shore the catch of the day.
Then, we will reach Dakar. Upon arrival in town we will visit the “Village des Arts” composed by fifty-two artist studios (ateliers). etc.). The Village is “the place” to meet the best artist and young talents of the Senegalese vibrant artistic scene.
Arrival at the port of Dakar to board the liner-ship “Aline Sitoe Diatta” that links in one night the capital of Senegal to Casamance, the southerner region of the country.
Casamance, off the beaten track
Once we leave the ocean, we will go up a water course, the Casamance River. Immersed in the pink dawn light, the fishermen in pirogues will remove the nets to let us pass. The dolphins will joyfully follow us. Around us, on the banks of the river we will discover a new landscape: an exuberant environment of large African trees, of sacred forests where animism persists along with native and original forms of religious beliefs … A “Taxi Brousse” after a short ride, will take us to Cap Skirring.
A night of strolling in Cap Skirring, in search of music of local “colour”, between mbalax and salsa.
The Sacred King
The clay architecture of the Diojlas of the Casamance reflects the typical defence of the egalitarian and acephalous tribal societies, often victims of the expansionism of ethnic groups that showed more hierarchical forms of organisation. The “impluvium houses” are authentic “fortified” constructions where the harmony of shape and the fusion of traditional materials (wood and clay) are a beautiful and clear example of “sculptural architecture”. During our visit, we will also be received by the king of one of the oldest kingdoms of the Casamance. At the end of the afternoon, we will go down a small path until we reach a small town and … the masks emerge from the sacred forest. The mask is feared and respected by the local population and has a regulating role in the personal conflicts.
Transfer to the airport and assistance in board in order to enjoy a spectacular flight that flies over estuaries and the Atlantic coast, and will take us to Dakar. Transfer to the Port of Dakar to board the ferry which will take us to the island of Goré. Facing Dakar, Goré, was the point where the slaves were crammed into, waiting to be shipped to the Americas. Today the island has taken a new dimension: its breezy climate, history and well maintained colonial architecture, together with nice restaurants and boutiques, make Goré an interesting and attractive destination for local and foreign visitors.
Return to Dakar and assistance until the final transfer to the airport.