If you have been to Senegal before, you know why it makes sense to go there again. The country has a vibrant, unique culture. This is the birthplace of the religious Mouridism movement, Mbalax music and the Teranga tradition of hospitality. Colourful urban exhibitionism and traditional African conformism live side by side. Elegance and beauty are highly valued, as is eloquence and negotiation skills – as each street vendor will prove to you.

The Senegalese were thoroughly influenced by their French colonial masters, and through education, the tradition lives on. You are likely to get baguettes for breakfast, and your level of civilisation is measured according to how well you master the language of Molière. At the same time, the population take great pride in the distinct Senegalese cultural heritage: you won't find the national dish ceebu jen, café Touba or ditax juice anywhere else in the world. The singularly Senegalese Lamb wrestling is as much about rituals and magic as sport. Sabar dancing is becoming a successful export product, alongside with Senegalese drum teachers.

In Senegal you will not, however, find animist peoples producing "African" masks or statuettes. Most parts of the country embraced Islam 1 000 years ago, so there is simply no tradition. What you will see in the way of primary arts are goods made for the tourist market, often imported from far away. Are you looking for that "raw and natural", minimalist beauty of the black continent? Sorry - esthetic concepts in Senegal are rather more sophisticated, influenced by trips to Paris and Mecca. Be prepared to rethink your ideas of Africa!

Instead, Senegal has a flourishing arts scene that most African countries can only dream of, including visual arts, film, music and dance, and the country is host to a number of cultural festivals, e.g. the musical Festival du Sahel in November and the biennale of contemporary art in Dakar in May.

In comparison with other West African destinations, the costs for travel to Senegal are moderate. From most European countries, you can get a flight ticket to Dakar for approx.
€ 600/£ 500/$ 800.