Culture Rich Destinations
Gambia & Senegal

Heritage & Culture Travel Themes

Heritage and culture plays an important role in Africa. Each country have a unique culture that is rich and diverse and varies not only from one country to another, but within each country itself. The culture of each ethnic group centers on family and can be found in each group’s art, music and oral literature. From storytelling through oral literature to traditions, dialects, arts and music, indigenous culture persist. And we couldn’t agree more when Victoria falls guide describe the unification of communities. “In African culture, the “self” is not separate from the world, it is united and intermingled with the natural and social environment. It is through relations with one’s community and surroundings that an individual becomes a person of volition, whose actions and decisions affect the entire group rather than just oneself. There is a Xhosa proverb that is common to all African cultures and languages, “Umuntu ngumuntu ngabantu,” (“A person is a person through persons”).” Or as the saying goes, it takes a village to raise a child. We hope to take you on this journey to understand and appreciate African culture by highlighting cultural nuances, heritage and traditions of each country that seem to have tremendous influence in the world.

Heritage & Culture Travel Themes

Heritage and culture plays an important role in Africa. Each country have a unique culture that is rich and diverse and varies not only from one country to another, but within each country itself. The culture of each ethnic group centers on family and can be found in each group’s art, music and oral literature. From storytelling through oral literature to traditions, dialects, arts and music, indigenous culture persist. And we couldn’t agree more when Victoria falls guide describe the unification of communities. “In African culture, the “self” is not separate from the world, it is united and intermingled with the natural and social environment. It is through relations with one’s community and surroundings that an individual becomes a person of volition, whose actions and decisions affect the entire group rather than just oneself. There is a Xhosa proverb that is common to all African cultures and languages, “Umuntu ngumuntu ngabantu,” (“A person is a person through persons”).” Or as the saying goes, it takes a village to raise a child. We hope to take you on this journey to understand and appreciate African culture by highlighting cultural nuances, heritage and traditions of each country that seem to have tremendous influence in the world.

Stone Circles of Senegambia (Senegal and Gambia)

The Senegambian stone circles lie in The Gambia north of Janjanbureh and in central Senegal. Approximate area: 30,000 km². They are sometimes divided into the Wassu and Sine-Saloum circles, but this is purely a national division. The four groups, Sine Ngayène, Wanar, Wassu and Kerbatch, cover 93 stone circles and numerous tumuli, burial mounds, some of which have been excavated to reveal material that suggest dates between 3rd century BC and 16th century AD. Together the stone circles of laterite pillars and their associated burial mounds present a vast sacred landscape created over more than 1,500 years. It reflects a prosperous, highly organized and lasting society.

Traditional Landscapes - Saloum Delta (Senegal)

It is an extensive area of mudflats, mangrove swamp and channels, with about 200 small islands, some of which are forested.  It has been settled by fishermen for centuries, and a rich cultural history is being pieced together from archaeological evidence in the delta.  In particular, 218 man-made mounds, some several hundred meters long and made of shells have been discovered.  Some 28 of these mounds have been found to include burial tumuli containing some remarkable artifacts. They are important for our understanding of cultures from the various periods of the delta’s occupation and testify to the history of human settlement along the coast of West Africa.

Traditional Landscapes - Janjanbureh Island or McCarthy Island (Gambia)

Colonial Architecture
There are a few historic buildings in the town that tell of the settlement’s colonial past. On the riverbank 19th century warehouses stand neglected and crumbling, aided by the relentless encroachment of vegetation. There is the Maurel and Prom Building, a former French trading house from Bordeaux, on the slipway to the ferry terminal. To its right are the roofless ruins of the CFAO Building. These structures are sometimes erroneously called ‘slave houses’ or ‘slave market’, they are not, as both were built long after Britain abolished slavery in 1807.

Jinack Island (Gambia)

Jinack Island (also spelt Jinak or Ginak) is in the North Bank Region of the Lower Niumi District of The Gambia, in West Africa. It is located on the north western edge of the River Gambia estuary, and is separated from the mainland delta of the Niumi National Park by the Niji Bolon creek. The isle, often referred to by tour operators as ‘Paradise Island’ or ‘Treasure Island’, is a slightly curved and tapering strip of low-lying land about 10km long; with an interior of dry woodland and grassland, with vegetation such as Tamarisk scrub, baobab trees and acacia. It is fringed with mangrove creeks,  tidal sand flats, saltwater marsh, low coastal dunes and a coastal lagoon, at Buniadu Point, in the northern section. In the winter season the isle is often visited by dolphins.

Cape Point (Gambia)

The Cape Point beach resort makes up the north-eastern part of the town of Bakau, in the Kombo St Mary District, in the West Coast Region of The Gambia, and is 12km to the west of Banjul capital. The district is a promontory and its beach area is where the River Gambia and the Atlantic Ocean merge at the estuary. To Cape Point’s eastern coastline is a wide seafront of fine, golden sand, while much of its north-western coastline starts at sea level, then, as you head south west it rises up to over 15 metres, and is mostly characterised by laterite cliffs dotted with palms along a narrow strand. Further to its southeast are the brackish mangrove swamps of Cape Creek, frequented by wetland birds.

European Colonial Influences - Island of Goree (Senegal)

The Island of Goree is located about 3 km off-shore, close to Senegal’s capital city, Dakar. It is a small island, approximately 600 m x 250 m, that was possibly Africa’s biggest slave trading center from the 15th to 19th centuries. It was first colonized by the Portuguese, followed by the Dutch, British and French.  Gorée Island’s Maison des esclaves (House of Slaves), with its famous Door of No Return. Over a period of several hundred years, an estimated 500,000 Africans are thought to have been traded through the island, en route to the New World.  The island has now come to symbolize the slave trade, and has become something of a pilgrimage site for the African diaspora.

European Colonial Influences - Island of Saint-Louis or Ndar (Senegal)

The island of Saint-Louis is located in the mouth of the Senegal River, a little north of the continent’s westernmost point. After more than three centuries, Ndar enjoys a history and cultural background, visible through its architecture and other characteristics. the island was developed as a French colonial town in the 17th century, and became the capital of French West Africa from 1895 to 1902. The city serves as a bridge between savanna and desertocean and river, tradition and modernity, Islam and Christianity, Europe and Africa. Its distinctive colonial architecture is among the features that put the island on the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in 2000. Tourism makes up an important and integral part of Ndar’s economy.

European Colonial Influences - Juffrey Village/Kunta Kinteh Island (Gambia)

Kunta Kinteh Island is located in the middle of the Gambia River estuary, about 30 km from its mouth, in the heart of Gambia, West Africa.  It has the ruins of a fort, slave house, governor’s kitchen and other buildings associated with the development of the Gambia River as the first European trade route into the African interior.  There are six other components of the world heritage site, five of them located in the villages of Albreda, Juffureh and San Domingo on the north bank of the river opposite the island.  The other component, Fort Bullen and the Six Gun Battery, is located near the mouth of the river.  Together, these seven components demonstrate different aspects of the European experience in West Africa from the time of the first arrival of Portuguese sailors around 1446.  In particular, the site bears testimony to the various stages of the slave trade from its early beginnings to abolition.

Senegal Arts, Dress, & other Cultural Significance

Gambia Arts, Dress, & other Cultural Significance

Batiks, Jewelry, Waxes, Damask Cloths, Food

Fishing

Accommodations

This casual beachfront resort overlooks the Atlantic Ocean and is 7 minutes’ walk from Gambia National Museum, an 11-minute walk from Albert Market and 19 km from Abuko National Reserve.
Set along the Atlantic Ocean, this chic resort on lush tropical grounds is next to Bijilo Forest Park, a rainforest nature reserve. It’s 18 km from Banjul International Airport.
Just thirty minutes from Banjul International Airport (BJL), the Coral Beach Hotel & Spa Gambia is a genuine paradise: a spectacularly beautiful hotel inspired by local traditions on an unspoiled beach on the Atlantic Ocean.
The Holiday Beach Club hotel is located on the beautiful beach of Kololi, The Gambia. The Holiday Beach Club is adjacent to the main tourist strip in The Gambia, with great shopping facilities, a wide variety of bars, restaurants, night clubs and casinos.
Situated on the magnificent golden beach of Kololi, The Kairaba Hotel offers a unique ambiance of relaxation and tranquility in which to rest and unwind in complete comfort.
All rooms have twin beds (some have extra beds if required), suite bathrooms, air conditioning or wall fans, satellite TV. Ground floor rooms have a private balcony, while upper floors boast private staircases ascending to individual balconies.
A 13-minute walk from Pointe des Almadies Beach on the Atlantic Ocean, this straightforward guesthouse is 6 km from Aéroport international Léopold-Sédar-Senghor.
Featuring warm, simple decor and tile floors, the airy suites feature TVs, and living areas with sofabeds and minibars. Some suites have separate living rooms, while bi-level villas (some 2-bedroom) add kitchenettes and furnished terraces.
Overlooking the North Atlantic Ocean, this laid-back, beachside hotel is 1 km from Lagune de la Somone national park and 9 km from Golf de Saly.
This colourful, beachfront hotel overlooking Ile De Ngor is 3 km from Léopold Sédar Senghor International Airport and 6 km from the Mosque of the Divinity.
Set along the Atlantic shore, this laid-back hotel with private bungalows is 5 km from Le Monument de la Renaissance Africaine and 6 km from the Mosque of the Divinity.
Set among gardens and mangroves by the Saloum River, this relaxed hotel spans a series of thatched-roof buildings and is 1 km from the N5 highway and 18 km from the Fathala Wildlife Reserve.
Palm Beach is located on the edge of a large sandy beach, on the Petite Côte, in the heart of Saly Portudal, a seaside resort located 80 km south of Dakar.
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This casual beachfront resort overlooks the Atlantic Ocean and is 7 minutes’ walk from Gambia National Museum, an 11-minute walk from Albert Market and 19 km from Abuko National Reserve.
Set along the Atlantic Ocean, this chic resort on lush tropical grounds is next to Bijilo Forest Park, a rainforest nature reserve. It’s 18 km from Banjul International Airport.
Just thirty minutes from Banjul International Airport (BJL), the Coral Beach Hotel & Spa Gambia is a genuine paradise: a spectacularly beautiful hotel inspired by local traditions on an unspoiled beach on the Atlantic Ocean.
The Holiday Beach Club hotel is located on the beautiful beach of Kololi, The Gambia. The Holiday Beach Club is adjacent to the main tourist strip in The Gambia, with great shopping facilities, a wide variety of bars, restaurants, night clubs and casinos.
Situated on the magnificent golden beach of Kololi, The Kairaba Hotel offers a unique ambiance of relaxation and tranquility in which to rest and unwind in complete comfort.
All rooms have twin beds (some have extra beds if required), suite bathrooms, air conditioning or wall fans, satellite TV. Ground floor rooms have a private balcony, while upper floors boast private staircases ascending to individual balconies.
A 13-minute walk from Pointe des Almadies Beach on the Atlantic Ocean, this straightforward guesthouse is 6 km from Aéroport international Léopold-Sédar-Senghor.
Featuring warm, simple decor and tile floors, the airy suites feature TVs, and living areas with sofabeds and minibars. Some suites have separate living rooms, while bi-level villas (some 2-bedroom) add kitchenettes and furnished terraces.
Overlooking the North Atlantic Ocean, this laid-back, beachside hotel is 1 km from Lagune de la Somone national park and 9 km from Golf de Saly.
This colourful, beachfront hotel overlooking Ile De Ngor is 3 km from Léopold Sédar Senghor International Airport and 6 km from the Mosque of the Divinity.
Set along the Atlantic shore, this laid-back hotel with private bungalows is 5 km from Le Monument de la Renaissance Africaine and 6 km from the Mosque of the Divinity.
Set among gardens and mangroves by the Saloum River, this relaxed hotel spans a series of thatched-roof buildings and is 1 km from the N5 highway and 18 km from the Fathala Wildlife Reserve.
Palm Beach is located on the edge of a large sandy beach, on the Petite Côte, in the heart of Saly Portudal, a seaside resort located 80 km south of Dakar.
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FAQ on Senegal

Frequently Asked Questions

For US citizens a passport is required. For U.S. passport holders, a visa is not required for stays of less than 90 days. Current yellow fever vaccination is mandatory to enter Senegal and meningitis vaccination is highly recommended if the traveler is arriving from or has recently traveled to an endemic area. US Embassy Dakar processes immigrant and non-immigrant visas. US Embassy Dakar also processes immigrant visas for The Gambia, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Mali, and Mauritania.

In general, the water is not safe to drink in Senegal. All local water should be considered contaminated. Bring all tap water to a good rolling boil if you want to drink, brush your teeth or make ice cubes. Otherwise, buy capped bottled water from reputable brands.

You can choose from different service providers, namely Orange, Tigo, IT Arc, Expresso, etc. Note that Senegal is one of the African countries having the best Internet coverage. Thus, you can choose between ADSL, 3G broadband connections, as well as mobile Internet packages. You can have more information on the conditions and services provided on their respective websites. 

To obtain an Internet connection, visit any branch of your favorite Internet service provider along with your passport or foreigner identity card if you are a resident. In case you want a typical Internet connection, you must have a land line beforehand.

Absolutely. All passengers traveling with Trailblazer Travelz are highly recommended to purchase travel insurance before the start of their trip. Due to the varying nature, availability and cost of health care around the world, travel insurance is very much an essential and necessary part of every journey.

American Express is the most commonly accepted credit card in Senegal, but Visa, MasterCard, and Diner’s Club cards are also sometimes accepted. Many ATMs do not accept foreign cards, and ATMs are generally hard to find outside of Dakar.

French is the official language of Senegal. Senegal is a multilingual country: Ethnologue lists 36 languages, Wolof being the most widely spoken language. 

You will definitely have access to telecommunication services in the country although these are not as developed as you could expect in many other countries. In fact, the country hosts only two major telephone service providers which have monopolized the telecommunications market. But these provide land line, mobile phone lines as well as Internet connection in most of the country.

​To obtain your mobile phone, visit any branch of your favorite service provider with a copy of your passport or your consular card. You then have to duly fill and sign the subscription form. Note that you can choose between a monthly subscription or a prepaid package whereby no contract is involved. However, conditions may vary from one service provider to another. The same applies to services and packages provided.

The country uses the West African CFA franc as the legal tender. Senegal depends on economic aid from developed nations. The West African colonies of France used the French West African franc as their currency. The currency was introduced in the colonies in 1903 and used until 1945 when CFA franc was introduced. 

The CFA franc is the currency used by a group of 14 countries within Central and West Africa. Those in central Africa use the Central African CFA franc while those in West Africa use the West African CFA franc. In theory, the two currencies are the same and have an equal value with the difference being in their geographical regions of use.

All the banks in Senegal now have ATM machines. Many ATMs do not accept foreign cards, and ATMs are generally hard to find outside of Dakar.

Tipping is not expected at budget eateries. At pricier restaurants, a 10% tip is customary, though this is sometimes included in the bill. It’s uncommon to tip taxi drivers. If you hire a guide or a driver for the day, however, you should plan on tipping.