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TOP DESTINATIONS IN SENEGAL

One of West Africa‘s most stable countries is definitely not dull: The capital, Dakar, is a dizzying, street-hustler rich introduction to the country. Perched on the tip of a peninsula, elegance meets chaos, noise, vibrant markets and glittering nightlife while nearby Île de Gorée and the beaches of Yoff and N'Gor tap to slow, lazy beats. In northern Senegal, the enigmatic capital of Saint-Louis, a Unesco World Heritage Site, tempts with colonial architecture and proximity to luscious national parks. Along the Petite Côte and Cap Skiring, wide strips of beaches beckon and the wide deltas of the Casamance River reveals hundreds of bird species, from the gleaming wings of tiny kingfishers to the proud poise of pink flamingos. Whether you want to mingle with the trendsetters of urban Africa or be alone with your thoughts and the sounds of nature, you'll find your place in Senegal.

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Dakar

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Once a tiny settlement in the south of the Cap Vert peninsula, Dakar now spreads almost across its entire triangle, and keeps growing. This is a city of contrasts, where horse-cart drivers chug over swish highways and gleaming SUVs squeeze through tiny sand roads, where elegant ladies dig skinny heels into dusty walkways and suit-clad businessmen kneel down for prayer in the middle of the street. A fascinating place – once you've learned how to beat its scamsters, hustlers and traders at their own game.

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Mbour & Saly

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Eighty kilometres south of Dakar. Mbour is the main town on the Petite Côte and the region's most vibrant and important fishing centre. Nearby Saly, with its strip of big ocean-front hotels, is the heavier weight when it comes to tourism. Mbour's busy, slightly nauseating fish market on the beach, where the catch is immediately gutted and dispatched, is a sight to behold. If it's a beach holiday you're after, then Saly is the perfect corner for soaking up the sun and sipping cocktails.

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Petite Côte & Siné-Saloum Delta

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The 150km Petite Côte stretches south from Dakar and is one of Senegal's best beach areas. Where the Siné and Saloum Rivers meet the tidal waters of the Atlantic Ocean, the coast is broken into a stunning area of mangrove swamps, lagoons, forests and sand islands. It forms part of the magnificent 180-sq-km Siné-Saloum Delta.

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The Djoudj National Bird Sanctuary

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The Djoudj National Bird Sanctuary lies on the southeast bank of the Senegal River in Senegal, in northern Biffeche, north east of St-Louis. It provides a range of wetland habitats which prove very popular with migrating birds, many of which have just crossed the Sahara. Of almost 400 species of birds, the most visible are pelicans and flamingos. Less conspicuous are the aquatic warblers migrating here from Europe; for these, the park is the single most important wintering site yet discovered. A wide range of wildlife also inhabits the park, which is designated a World Heritage Site. The site was added to the list of World Heritage in Danger in 2000 due to the introduction of the invasive giant salvinia plant, which threatens to choke out the park's native vegetation. However it was removed from the list in 2006.

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Saint-Louis

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Saint-Louis, or Ndar as it is called in Wolof, is the capital of Senegal's Saint-Louis Region. Located in the northwest of Senegal, near the mouth of the Senegal River, and 320 km north of Senegal's capital city Dakar, it has a population officially estimated at 176,000 in 2005. Saint-Louis was the capital of the French colony of Senegal from 1673 until 1902 and French West Africa from 1895 until 1902, when the capital was moved to Dakar. From 1920 to 1957 it also served as the capital of the neighboring colony of Mauritania.

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The Niokolo-Koba National Park

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The Niokolo-Koba National Park is a World Heritage Site and natural protected area in south eastern Senegal near the Guinea-Bissau border. It is served by Niokolo-Koba Airport, an unpaved airstrip.

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Lake Retba

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Lake Retba or Lac Rose lies north of the Cap Vert peninsula of Senegal, some 30 km north-east of the capital, Dakar. It is named for its pink waters caused by Dunaliella salina algae and is known for its high salt content, up to 40% in some areas.

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Joal-Fadiouth

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Joal-Fadiouth is a village at the end of the Petite Côte of Senegal, south-east of Dakar. Joal lies on the mainland, while Fadiouth, linked by a bridge, lies on an island of clam shells, which are also used in local architecture and crafts. The village has no motorised transport evidenced by the sign on entering. It has large Christian and Muslim populations with cemeteries on another shell island. Another attraction is granaries on stilts in the water.

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Touba

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Touba is a city in central Senegal, part of Diourbel Region and Mbacké district. With a population of 529,176 in 2010, it is the second most populated Senegalese city after Dakar. It is the holy city of Mouridism and the burial place of its founder, Shaikh Aamadu Bàmba Mbàkke. Next to his tomb lies a large mosque, completed in 1963.

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Kaolack

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Kaolack is a town of 172,305 people on the north bank of the Saloum River and the N1 road in Senegal. It is the capital of the Kaolack Region, which borders The Gambia to the south. Kaolack is an important regional market town and is Senegal's main peanut trading and processing center. As the center of Ibrahimiyya branch of the Tijaniyyah Sufi order founded by Ibrayima Ñas, it is also a major center of Islamic education. The Medina Baay mosque in Kaolack is one of the largest and best known in Senegal. Kaolack is situated on the Saloum River about 100 kilometers from its mouth. It is the successor city to Kahone, historic capital of the kingdom of Saloum. Kahone, originally a place marked by a sacred tree on the right bank of the Saloum River facing the island of Kouyong, became capital of the mostly Sereer kingdom of Saloum in the early 16th century. In the 17th and 18th centuries it consisted of a number of distinct neighborhoods separated by open fields, each of which was under the jurisdiction of a different dignitary or official. One of these wards, Kaolack, was founded by two Sereer princesses from Baol.

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The Lompoul desert

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The Lompoul desert is a small desert located 145 km south of Saint-Louis, Senegal. It is characterized by orange sand dunes forming a landscape that is more akin to those of the Sahara and Mauritania than those of the surrounding area of Senegal, and is a popular tourist attraction of Senegal. The desert is named after the closest settlement, i.e., the village of Lompoul.

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Dindéfelo

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Dindéfelo is a village near Segou in southeast Senegal. It is home to the tourist attraction and park at Dindefelo Falls which can be reached by following a creek-side trail to the south. The town is 38 km southeast of Kedougou, 6 km from the town of Segou Senegal, and was historically a part of Kedougou kingdom in the Senegalese foothills of the Fouta Djallon mountains. The region is traditionally home to the Bassari people.

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The Ferlo Nord Wildlife Reserve

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The Ferlo Nord Wildlife Reserve (French: Réserve de Faune du Ferlo-Nord), established in 1971, is a 6,000 square kilometres (2,300 sq mi) IUCN habitat and species protected nature reserve located in Senegal. The nature reserve is bordered by the Ferlo Sud Wildlife Reserve to the south.