Senegal is a beautiful country with year-round sunshine, gorgeous near-empty beaches and several game reserves. Dakar fills the Cap-Vert peninsular on the coastline and it’s a mix of old and new, amalgamated from fishing villages and former colonial towns. The streets are hot and dusty and filled with sharply dressed Senegalese in multi-coloured dresses or snappy suits. The markets and medina are abuzz with noise, activity and smells and the endless beat of Senegal’s famous pop music.
To orientate yourself visit Les Mamelles (French for breasts) – two hills overlooking the Atlantic and the flat peninsula, so you can see the city laid out in front of you. Even Dakar’s most popular beaches are never crowded, and once they start, they continue for 5 664km of coastline. N’Gor, Yoff and Plage Bel-Air are walking distance apart and are flanked by fresh seafood restaurants and vendors selling tasty snacks.
French is widely spoken. For safety, stick to the official taxis.
Senegal is in line with GMT with no Daylight Saving Time.
The currency is the West African Franc (CFA), pegged to the Euro. Commissions are added on purchases by credit card and many businesses do not accept foreign cards, so carry cash. ATMs are widespread in Dakar, but not all of them accept foreign cards.
The city has a semi-arid climate and constant high temperatures. The rainy season lasts from July to October, while the dry season covers the remaining eight months. Between December and May the temperature is around 24°C to 27°C and from May and November it heats up to around 29°C–31°C .
Senegal uses a variety of plug types. The two round-pinned European type is quite common. The standard voltage is 230V.
Mobile phone coverage is pretty good across the city. A few hotels have free Wifi and there are internet cafes.
Taxis are common and it’s normal to haggle over the fare. The Dakar Demm Dikk (Dakar coming and going) bus system is fairly dependable, cheap and only packed during rush hour.