Senegal Holidays, Events, Climate and Sightseeing

Senegal: holidays, events, climate

Public holidays

Date Holiday
January 1 New Year
January February Tabaski (Festival of Sacrifice)
February Tamkarit (Islamic New Year)
March April Easter
4. April National holiday/independence day
April May Birthday of the Prophet Mohammed
1st of May Labor Day
May Ascension of Christ
May June Pentecost
15th of August Assumption Day
August 23 Senegalese Riflemen Day
November 1 All Saints Day
November December Korité (end of Ramadan)
25 December Christmas

Source: Countryaah – Senegal Holidays

Senegalese Rifle Day The Senegalese Rifle

Day has been celebrated since 2004 and is intended to commemorate the contribution of the Senegalese soldiers in 1944 on the side of the Allies.


The dates for the Islamic holidays are calculated according to the lunar calendar and therefore shift every year. During the fasting month of Ramadan, which precedes the Korité festival, Muslims do not eat during the day, but only after sunset. Many restaurants are therefore closed during the day. The Tabaski and Korité festivals last 2-10 days, depending on the region.


In addition, there are several major pilgrimages in Senegal each year. The most important are the Magal after Touba, in which at least a million Mourids take part, and the Maouloud or Gamou on the birthday of the Prophet Mohammed, on which the followers of the Tidjaniya travel to Tivaouane.

Cultural events

Saint-Louis Jazz Festival

The Saint-Louis Jazz Festival is held annually in April/May.

A national arts and culture festival is held in Dakar towards the end of the year.

Sporting events

Dakar Rally The Dakar

Rally (formerly Paris-Dakar Rally) is probably the most famous desert rally in the world. The off-road motorsport race has been held annually since 1979 and was mainly held on the African continent, although the route as well as the start and destination have now varied.


Since 2009 the rally has taken place on the South American continent for safety reasons.


Senegal has two different temperature zones, the southern part of the country and the northeast.

Southern Region

The south of the country has a tropical climate, which means that it is very warm and humid. The hottest time is between March and April, during this time the daytime temperatures can rise to 40 °C. Towards July and August they drop to 31-32 °C and rise again to 33-35 °C from December to January. At night the temperatures fluctuate between 24-26 °C in the hot season and around 17-19 °C in the cooler season. During the rainy season from the beginning of June to the beginning of November, the southwest to westerly monsoon wind blows, which brings heavy rains with it. Every year around 1,500 mm of precipitation falls here. The humidity during this time is around 95%.


The northern part of the country has a rather dry climate. It is cooler on the coast than inland. The average daytime temperatures in Dakar (capital) in the hottest period from August to October are around 30 °C. At night they drop to around 25 °C. From January to April the temperature is around 25 °C during the day and 17-18 °C at night. The northeast trade wind, which is also called Harmattan in West Africa, blows during the dry season from November to March. It brings hot and dry winds from the Sahara and causes periods of drought in some parts. There is also a rainy season in the north, but it is not as pronounced as in the south. About 500 mm of precipitation falls here every year.

National customs

The Islam and is the dominant religion in Senegal, most Senegalese are extremely devout Muslims. These circumstances should be respected. Because religion is very important in the country. But one should not approach people anxiously or tense, but ask them calmly about their religion, because most Senegalese love to talk about it.

The usual way of greeting each other in Senegal is “Asalam Aleikum”, which means “Peace be with you”. The answer to the Muslim greeting is “Waleikum asalam” – “And peace be with you.” This greeting is not expected from strangers and non-Muslims. Men shake hands as they greet. They also exchange courtesies about family, health and news. Women should dress modestly and keep their arms, legs and shoulders covered. In general, it is important to show as little skin as possible. But you don’t have to veil yourself. But shorts or the like are also taboo for men.

Female travelers shouldn’t be surprised if they get countless marriage proposals from Senegalese men every day in the country. The best answer to that is humor – and caution.

You should always take off your shoes when visiting mosques. The consumption of alcohol in public is prohibited. Since the left hand is reserved for the toilet and is considered unclean, the right hand is always used to eat. Likewise, you should never give someone anything with your left hand. Photographing locals without their permission must be avoided at all costs, as the image of people is traditionally a taboo in Islamic countries.

Senegal: sightseeing

UNESCO World Heritage Sites

Senegal has a total of six national parks, of which the Djoudj National Park and the Niokolo-Koba National Park have been a national bird sanctuary since 1981 and are also one of the country’s seven UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

Gorée Island

This island of volcanic origin has an area of only 0.3 km² – it is about 1 km long and 300 m wide. It is located on the opposite side of the Atlantic Ocean, which is the westernmost tip of Africa, and was known as the slave island until the slave trade there was banned in 1848. The island had changed hands a total of 17 times by 2019. There are no cobbled streets in Gorée and the island is car-free.

Numerous colonial buildings from the 18th and 19th centuries have been preserved to this day. Approximately 20 million African slaves are said to have been trafficked from the island between the 15th and 17th centuries. The former slave house has been preserved and has tiny cells in which the slaves were kept naked and chained until they were shipped. In the meantime, however, it has been proven that probably only a few slaves were transported away from here. Not least because no larger ships could anchor here at the time. The island has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1978.

Saint Louis Island

In 1659 the French occupied the island of Saint Louis. It lies in the mouth of the Senegal River.

The French colonial quarter was laid out on the two kilometers long and 350 meters wide island. The fishermen’s quarter lies on the narrow headland next to it. Two bridges connect the districts.

The island became the anchorage of ships for trade with India and South America. The island’s climate is sandstorms, humid weather, harsh winds. In addition, malaria and yellow fever made life difficult for the French.

The island is connected to the mainland by the 507 m long “Pont Faidherbe” bridge. However, many of the elegant buildings from the 18th century would have to be restored. The old colonial buildings of the former capital on the island are particularly worth seeing.

The island has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2000

Megalithic stone circles of Senegambia

The Senegambian stone circles are located on the banks of the Gambia River in the West African states of Senegal and cross-border in the Gambia.

There are more than 1,000 monuments, mainly grouped into 4 groups: Sine Ngayène, Wanar, Wassu and Kerr Batch. The stones were erected on former graves around the 8th century and form the oldest megalithic (megaliths are mostly uncut, large stone blocks) buildings. A stone weighs up to 10 tons and is up to 2.5 m high. Almost all of them consist of iron-rich rock. Since weapons were found, archaeologists suspected that they were rulers’ graves. These stone circles have been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2006. The world cultural heritage crosses borders and is located in both Senegal and Gambia.

Djoudj National Bird Sanctuary

The Djoudj National Park in northern Senegal – about 60 km northeast of the mouth of the Senegal River – is a large bird sanctuary. The area of the park is about 160 km².

The park is home to around 400 different species of birds and in the European winter there are also migratory birds that find fresh water here after crossing the Sahara.

A detailed description of this UNESCO world natural heritage can be found under the heading National parks.

Niokolo-Koba National Park

The Niokolo-Koba National Park is located in southeastern Senegal on the border with Guinea and covers an area of around 8,000 km². The park has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1981.

A detailed description of this UNESCO world natural heritage can be found under the heading National parks.

Delta du Saloum National Park

The 5,000 km² Saloum Delta is located in northern Senegal. It is a floodplain of the Sine and Saloum rivers, which flow into the Atlantic Ocean here.

The Saloum Delta was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List in 2011.

A detailed description of this UNESCO world natural heritage can be found under the heading National parks.

Cultural landscapes of the Bassari, Fula and Bedik

The Bedik, Fula and Bassari peoples live at the foot of the Futa Djalon Mountains.

The protected areas of the peoples are difficult to reach as the area is quite inaccessible, but precisely because of this they have been able to maintain their own culture.

They have remained true to their animistic beliefs to this day. Animistic means that man is in harmony with nature. Nature expresses itself through natural events and thus addresses people directly.

The Bassari are usually farmers who could neither read nor write.

They still live mostly in thatched huts. Their fields are often laid out in terraces. Their main focus is on growing rice and cotton.

The thatched-roof huts in the Bedik villages are close together. The thatched roofs are very steep and reach almost to the ground. There are beehives in every village. Bees – so the Bedik believe – have special gifts and can protect people from evil.

It should be mentioned that the people of the Fulbe (English: Fula) founded cities in the year 1,000 and carried on lively trade through the Sahara desert. The Fulbe followed and follow very strict rules that have a regulation for every situation in life and that must be observed. Anyone who does not follow these rules will be expelled.

These cultural landscapes were inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List in 2012

Larger cities or towns


The Senegalese capital Dakar spreads on the Atlantic coast on a peninsula on which the city was once founded. Today it is not only the largest city in the country, but also the most westerly city in all of Africa, and now extends over the entire Cape Verde peninsula. Around 1,030,000 people live there, in this most important port and economic center in Senegal, whose metropolitan region is home to 2.45 million people. Dakar is the seat of an archbishop of the Catholic Church and has had a gigantic landmark with the 50 meter high African Renaissance statue made of bronze for several years.


The city of Diourbel in the west of Senegal has around 100,500 residents. Most of the people, whose lives are made difficult by extreme poverty and desertification, live from the local cultivation of peanuts. Numerous parties and political institutions are also based there.


About 200,000 people live in Kaolack, an important center of the Tijaniyyah order and, because of the large port, also the center of the Senegalese peanut industry. Visitors to the city will quickly notice why Kaolack is one of the dirtiest cities in Africa; you can only live in the western parts of the city. The rest of the city is sinking into dirt, chaos, poverty and disease.


In the city of M’bour in the west of Senegal, where around 180,000 people live, one lives mainly from the titanium industry and from fishing. The city maintains the country’s second largest port after Dakar. But M’bour is also interesting for tourists, which is due to the fine sandy beach of the Petite-Côte and the Experimental Ecological Reserve of M’bour, which has existed since 1987.


The city with 170,000 residents on the north-west coast of Senegal served as the capital of French West Africa until 1902, but was then replaced by Dakar in this role. The city’s significant past can still be read in the cityscape, because Saint-Louis, the cultural center of the country, which is often referred to as the “Venice of Africa” because of its geographical location, has a colonial center, above all with the Place de Faidherbe where the Rognard barracks and the imposing governance rise. The bitterly poor district of Guet N’Dar contrasts with the first cathedral in West Africa with its splendor and dominance, in which the daily struggle for survival takes place against the backdrop of corrugated iron huts. Saint-Louis,


Senegal’s fifth largest city with almost 240,000 residents is the center of the carpet industry, but also the center of cattle trade and meat processing. The city, founded by the French in 1863, also has a university, a museum and the oldest cinema in Senegal that is still in operation.


More than half a million people live in Touba, the center of the Sufi brotherhood Muridiyya, whose followers are called Mourids. The movement was founded in 1887 by the religious leader Amadou Bamba, who is also buried in Touba. The city’s Great Mosque, one of the largest Islamic places of worship south of the Sahara, has stood on the site of his death since 1963.

Special buildings and structures

Lighthouse of Dakar (also Phare des Mamelles)

If you leave the city center of Dakar for ten kilometers, you inevitably come to the westernmost point of Africa, where two volcanic hills protrude over the sea, the so-called Mamelles. The lighthouse, established in 1864 and rebuilt in 1911, is a 16-meter-high structure with a beacon 55 kilometers wide. You can visit the lighthouse for free.

Monument de la Renaissance africaine in Dakar

In Dakar, the bronze African Renaissance Statue was inaugurated on April 4, 2010, a gigantic structure that towers over the Statue of Liberty in New York with its dimensions of over 50 meters. The monument was erected in memory of the 50 years of independence of the state of Senegal. The statue is one of the city’s most famous tourist attractions and was designed by the Senegalese architect Pierre Goudiaby, who drew on designs by President Abdoulaye Wade. The statue, criticized for its enormous construction costs of 27 million dollars and the shape that takes getting used to, is considered by President Wade as intellectual property, so that he claims 35% of the profit generated by tourism.

Léopold Sédar Senghor Stadium in Dakar

The multi-purpose stadium in Dakar, named after the poet and politician Léopold Sédar Senghor, has existed since 1985; but initially it was called the Stade de l’Amitié, or Stadium of Friendship. The stadium, which is home to the ASC Jeanne d’Arc football club, can accommodate a total of 60,000 spectators. In 1992, a total of 14 African Football Championship matches were played there.


Grande Mosquée de Dakar

One of the most important religious buildings in Dakar is in the Allée Pape Gueye Fall. We are talking about the Great Mosque of the Senegalese capital, designed by French and Moroccan architects. It was opened in 1964 by Hassan II, King of Morocco, and the Senegalese President Léopold Sédar Senghor. With its rich interior and exterior decoration and the 67 meter high minaret, the mosque is a symbol of Dakar.

Grande Mosquée de Touba

The Great Mosque, one of the largest Islamic places of worship in Africa, rises in the heart of the city of Touba, which is holy for the Mourids. Completed in 1963 and impressive with its five minarets and three large domes, the mosque was built on the site where Amadou Bamba, the founder of the Mouriden Brotherhood, is buried. The mosque is characterized by its 87 meter high main minaret, one of the most famous monuments in Senegal.

Medina Baay Mosque in Kaolack

The Medina Baay Mosque is located in Kaolack, the capital of the region of the same name. It is the largest and most famous in the whole country.

Museums, cultural assets, theaters

Antenna Gallery in Dakar

The Antenna Gallery in Dakar is dedicated to African art. Senegalese statues, masks, jewelry and fabrics are exhibited.

House of the Slaves (Maison des Esclaves) in Dakar

The Maison des Esclaves, the house of the slaves, is located on the island of Gorée. It was housed in a building that dates back to 1784.

Gorée Historical Museum (Musée Historique de Gorée) in Dakar

The Musée Historique, which focuses on the history of Senegal, was set up in an old fortress on the island of Gorée and shows exhibits that may provide information about the past of the West African country.

Marine Museum (Musée de la Mer) in Dakar

The Marine Museum of Dakar is affiliated with the university. It belongs to the former slave island Gorée and focuses on marine life.

Musée de l’Institut Fondamental d’Afrique Noire (IFAN) in Dakar

Located in the Senegalese capital, IFAN is one of the oldest museums in West Africa. It was sponsored by President Léopold Senghor and is part of the Institut Fondamental d’Afrique Noire, which has existed since 1936. Nowadays the museum is one of the most important institutions for the study of African culture.

Stone circles, menhirs and burial mounds near Kaffrine and along the river Bao Bôlon

In the 7th century countless stone circles made of Latherite stones (ferrous megaliths), menhirs (long rows of stones facing east) and burial mounds (tumuli) were built in this region. To the northwest of Sine Ngayène, in Dialloumbere, are the so-called royal tombs. They each consist of 52 double, concentric stone circles with a total of 1,100 megaliths.

Théâtre National Daniel Sorano in Dakar

The National Theater in Dakar, named after the actor Daniel Sorano from Saint-Louis, shows dances, concerts and plays.


Gaston Berger University in Saint-Louis

In 1990 the Gaston Berger University was launched. It is located in Saint-Louis.

Université Cheikh Anta Diop in Dakar

UCAD, a renowned university in Dakar, was named after the Senegalese scholar Cheikh Anta Diop. The Université was founded in 1957 as the first French-speaking university in sub-Saharan Africa. Approximately 40,000 students currently study in one of its five faculties. Attached to the university is the Museum of Marine Biology, which is located on the former slave island of Gorée.

Noteworthy natural beauties

Fauna Reserve de Guembeul near Saint-Louis

If you leave Saint-Louis for about 15 km in a southerly direction, you will reach the 7 km² plant reserve, which also offers refuge for a number of bird and endangered animal species.

Guiers Lake

Lac Guiers is the largest lake in Senegal. It spreads in the north of the country and ensures an adequate water supply for the capital Dakar. The Guiers lake has very fertile banks, on which in particular extensive sugar cane fields lie.

Islands of Saloum

About 200 km south of Dakar, the islands of Saloum spread out, a wonderful natural paradise that is made up of mangrove forests. You can go on these with motorized pirogues and get to know their almost endless tributaries. A pleasant break from discovering the impressive wealth of flora and fauna should be taken with grilled oysters in the region.

Salt lake Lac Retba (Lac Rose)

The approx. 3 km² large lake, which is only separated from the sea by a dune, is located northeast of Dakar and contains a lot of salt – about 38% to almost 50% (380 to 500 g/liter), so you can like like swimming in the Dead Sea. Real mountains of salt have formed on the shores of the lake. The cyanobacteria living in the lake give it its unique and very noticeable pink color, especially in the dry season. It should be noted that the lake was once the destination of the Dakar Rally.

Vélingara crater in the south of the country

The almost circular structure with a diameter of 48 km is possibly the impact crater of a meteorite, overlaid by sediments and altered by erosion. The Anambé Basin lake has formed in the middle.

Senegal: national parks

Basse-Casamance National Park

The Basse-Casamance National Park, founded in 1970, covers an area of 35 km² = 3,500 ha. It is located near the border with Guinea-Bissau. The park consists of wet savannahs and dense forests, which are crossed by waterways. A nice tour is from Oussouye to Elinkine – a small fishing village on a tributary of the Casamance, which flows into the Atlantic after 350 km. You will pass cassava plantations, bisap trees or meter-high termite mounds. Weaver birds live in the tops of the Borassus palms. Around 50 different species of mammals live in the park, including monkeys, African forest buffalo, hyenas, Cape buffalo, leopards, western red colobus and dwarf crocodiles. In addition, around 200 different bird species live here.

Delta du Saloum National Park

The Delta du Saloum National Park, founded in 1976, covers an area of around 760 km² = 76,000 ha. The park is located within the delta mouths of the Saloum and Sine rivers. The national park includes significant mangrove patches.

Since sea water mixes with river water in the delta, a special habitat for animals and plants has been created here. Many migratory birds such as flamingos, cormorants, cranes, pelicans, herons, storks and many other birds spend the winter in the Sine Saloum Delta. The delta is surrounded by dense forests, in which various species of monkeys – such as hussar monkeys and West African colobus monkeys – continue to be at home with antelopes, bushbucks, deer boars from the real pigs, crown duikers, spotted hyenas and warthogs, among others. Endangered turtles also live here.

The shell island group of Fadiouth is worth seeing. These islands were created from shell limestone. There is a residential island, a storage island for storing agricultural products such as millet and peanuts and a cemetery island that can be reached via a bridge.

Mammals such as dolphins and manatees live in the sea. The park has been on the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites since 2011.

Djoudj National Park

The Djoudj National Park was founded in 1971 and covers an area of 160 km² = 16,000 ha. The park is located in the delta of the Senegal River in a wetland area and includes a large lake and is surrounded by streams, ponds and oxbow lakes. With around 1.5 million birds from around 330 bird species, the park is one of the largest bird reserves in West Africa, including African spoonbills, ospreys, flamingos, cormorants, crowned cranes, purple herons and white pelicans. In addition, 10,000 pelicans cavort here. From November to April the park is also the habitat of migratory birds from Europe. As the National Bird Sanctuary Djoudj, the national park has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1981.

Iles de la Madeleine National Park

The Iles de la Madeleine National Park, founded in 1976, covers an area of 0.5 km² = 50 ha while the uninhabited island group Îles de la Madeleine has an area of only 0.15 km² = 15 ha. The archipelago is about four kilometers from the coast of the capital Dakar near Cap Vert. The national park is the smallest in Senegal. Because of the constant strong winds, the trees on the island only grow close to the ground. B. dwarf baobabs.

Lizards, geckos, crested larks, cormorants, red-billed tropical birds, turtles, black kites and weaver birds live on the islands.

Barracudas, epinephelus – a group of groupers – and tuna swim in the Atlantic off Senegal. The local specialty lobster (lobster) can also be found in the sea. Various shark species populate the local Atlantic. There are also the following marine mammals in the wider area:

– Blue whales

– Bryde’s

whales – Humpback whales

– Clymene dolphins

– Bottlenose dolphins

– Slender dolphins –

Striped dolphins –

Killer whales

Chinstrap dolphins It is possible all year round to visit the national park administration on Soumbedioune beach in Dakar for about four hours to register a paid visit to the island.

Langue de Barbarie National Park

The Langue de Barbarie National Park, founded in 1976, is a bird sanctuary and covers an area of 20 km² = 2,000 ha. It is located around 20 km south of the city of Saint-Louis on a headland that separates the estuary of the Senegal River from the Atlantic. Flamingos, cormorants and pelicans as well as numerous water birds live in the national park. Various migratory birds come here, especially in the European winter.

Niokolo-Koba National Park

The Niokolo National Park is located in southeastern Senegal on the border with Guinea and covers an area of around 8,000 km². Lions, leopards, chimpanzees, baboons, hippos and crocodiles, hyena dogs, buffaloes and the rare giant eland live in the park. It is estimated that the park is home to around 80 species of mammals and over 300 species of birds.

There are gallery forests, bamboo forests and savannahs on the river bank of the Gambia. Numerous species of birds nest in the nature reserves of Senegal, especially in winter. The park has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1981.

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