Surfing Dakar

Instead of going up to St.Louis where I had been just a few months earlier, I decided to spend five days in the Senegalese capital of Dakar. From what I had heard the city had good nightlife and great waves for surfing, but when you spend hours in the water surfing in the day you are usually to tired to go out at night. My days in Dakar were therefore mainly spent surfing at Secret surfspot, right next to Club Med. I had really hopes to surf the famous Ngor Right from the surfing movie “the endress summer”, but when I went out there I could see that waves were messy and decided to stick to the shallow, clean waves at Secret.
A map of Dakars many surfing spots
When the rest of the group arrived just a couple of days later it was time to check out the more cultural attractions of the city. The streets and markets were quiet as everyone were in Touba for the pilgrimage, but then it was even better relaxing in the parks and visiting Gorée Island without too many people around.
Gorée Island which was the last stop for African slaves beofore being shipped off to the Americas
I had heard mixed reviews about the slave island of Gorée. Some saying it was too busy, too touristy etc but I really enjoyed it! All the info in the museums was in French, but the old colonial streets and buildings were well kept and stolling around made me really think back at all the horrible things that had happened there in the past. Being the last stop on the trip, and the third last country remaining to be visited on the West African Coast made me a bit sad as West Africa has truly showed me some genuine places not spoilt by tourism. Although it will probably be long before Ibret return, my heart will never stop beating for West-Africa.

Pilgrimage to the Touba Mosqué

For one week every year in november about 3 million Soufi muslims visit the mosque in the middle of Touba city, making it the second biggest muslim pilgrimage in the World, after Mecca. Touba is the holy City of Mouridism as its founder, Shaikh Aamadu Bambà Mbàkke was buried there. Today it is forbidden to consume alcohol and tobacco in the city and everywhere you turn you see his face plastered on every wall, car and window.
Getting there was a nightmare. Never have I ever seen so many people going in one direction, other than the refugees in the news channels. We picked up out local guide who got us through the crowded city and into the mosque and explained us all we wanted to know about the town, the pilgrimage and soufism. At the end of our tour he also took us to a outdoor TV studio where we were interviewed by the local news channel. At the end of the day I caught a taxi to Dakar and stayed a night with Muhammed and his friends who I met on the bus from Touba.

Muhammed and his brothers

The Sine Saloum Delta

Shell Island- a big island completely made up of seashells

Even though it was not quite an Okawanga experience, the Sine Saloum Delta in Senegal was worth a visit. There was no animals to see and the landscape was much like elsewhere but it was the interactions with the locals that made our stay there.

One of the days we took a pirogue trip out to a village to meet the chief of a nearby village, which was a woman claiming to be 98 years old. She seemed to quite like foreigners, especially the ones of us who had a beard, as she kissed us on our cheeks multiple times. On the island we also visited a school in the middle of a drawing lessons. The kids were eager to show us their chalkboard drawings and asked us to take pictures of them. Clearly they knew what we were, so it is probably a place where more tourists come by. Our guide was good at explaining and showed us what daily life there was like, from everything to people cooking and making new beds and houses.

On our second day we did another trip on the delta. This time to see some birdtime life and to visit the Shell Island, an island made of shells. This island had a top with a good view of the delta and a huge Beobab tree they were circumcising young boys in. We drove back in the pirogue around sunset through the still waters which made us all quite ready for bed..

Celebrations in Cap Skirring

Since roads had been improved greatly since Dragoman was last running tours in West Africa the Chinese had come and roads had improved greatly. Instead of driving for three days from Fouta Djallon to Bissau City we used three, which meant that we could spend four days in Cap Skirring instead of three. I would spend my birthday there and the tour leader would spend her birthday so we were all happy and ready for some celebrarion. 

Even though Senegal is one of the more touristy countries in West Africa there were not as many around. My guess is that the country is still suffering from the impact of the ebola crisis that was going on two years ago. Even though they did not have any cases of it. Maybe thats why the locals were so friendly and welcoming to us there.
Even though I had rented a surfboard for the stay I did not catch any waves. The usual surfing spots were quiet so the days were just spent relaxing and enjoying restaurant meals instead of camping and cooking like we did on the road.