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KOIBIRD Visits Dakar


24 hours in Dakar: the art-loving capital of West Africa with a surf scene to match.

Formerly part of the West African French colony, Senegal declared its independence in 1960. Today there’s a burgeoning art and culture movement, vibrant street fashion and even a pink lake - making it the perfect KOI destination.

Words by Jane McFarland

Images via @iddavanmunster and David Crookes

9am: Break Bread

Join the snake-like line of locals at Graine d’Or, a bustling bakery lined with buttery pastries, including raisin rolls and fluffy beignets. Don’t miss their signature pain de mie - the best bread in Dakar. Follow with espresso at Lulu’s, a coffee cum interiors shop.

11am: Swim in a Pink Lake

In Senegal's naturally fuchsia Lake Retba, or what locals call Lac Rose, you can cruise the dunes or just float in the salt-heavy water. Less than an hour’s drive north of Dakar, it’s not only good #content, but great for your skin too. Definitely consider coordinating swimwear.

11am: Swim in a Pink Lake

In Senegal's naturally fuchsia Lake Retba, or what locals call Lac Rose, you can cruise the dunes or just float in the salt-heavy water. Less than an hour’s drive north of Dakar, it’s not only good #content, but great for your skin too. Definitely consider coordinating swimwear.

1pm: Enjoy an Art Education

Host to the longest-running arts show in Africa, Dakar has galleries and museums befitting a world capital - it was an exhibition by Senegalese artist Babacar Mbodj Niang, held in an abandoned Dakar restaurant, that inspired our latest KOIBIRD store interiors. Don't miss the Museum of Black Civilizations; the building itself is an architectural feat, while its extensive historical collection, including artefacts recovered from around the world, celebrates African heritage and culture. For an inside tip, follow Senegalese creative Papi - a name-to-know on the urban art scene. Some more museum tips below.

2pm: Market Day

You can’t miss West African markets - among Dakar's finest are Marché Kermel and Marché des HLM, which specialises in West African fabrics. A riot of colour and expert haggling, expect to increase your baggage allowance - at least once. Among the eclectic local shops, Lakkar House, a mixed-label store showcasing African contemporary fashion and objets d’art, is worth a pitstop.

KOIBIRD visits Dakar

3pm: Island Life

No trip to Dakar is complete without a 20-minute ferry crossing to the tropical Île de Gorée, where the pastel-hued homes and car-free, sandy tracks are a tranquil respite to the buzz of Dakar. It’s soberingly symbolic too; widely considered the largest slave-trading centre on the African coast, the UNESCO-listed island is also home to the House of Slaves- the last remaining slave house, which was reconstructed and re-opened as a museum in 1962.


9pm: Supper with a sea view

Local is best, with Senegal’s national dish, Thieboudienne - seasoned fish served with rice in a tomatoey sauce with cabbage, eggplant and carrots - a must. Enjoy on the rooftop terrace at La Calebasse, an art gallery and restaurant, which offers a polished take on West African dishes. Don’t miss the shrimp with Casamance honey.

12am: The Late Late show

Dakar’s legendary music scene doesn’t kick off till late - prop the bar at Just 4 U, a much-loved spot for Cuban-tinged, Senegalese classics.

2am: Time to hit snooze

Seku Bi’s seven-room boutique hotel is tucked at the end of a small street, just beyond the bustling Independence Square. Set within a French colonial villa, the property’s features are locally sourced from the woven rugs (courtesy of Senegalese artist Ousame M’Baye) to the staff uniforms. Meaning parrot in Wolof, it’s KOIBIRD’s spiritual home.

Bookmark Journeys By Design

The Brighton-based African luxury-travel specialist will put together a tailor-made trip, from an off-the-beaten safari to West African cultural guide.

Bookmark It

Follow @dakarlives

This social media account operates like a highly-curated country guide, promoting Senegal culture and tourism, with vibrant snaps of the idyllic beaches, buzzing street scenes and rich cuisine. Perfect for avoiding the typical tourist traps, it’ll help with the holiday blues too.

Follow

Anything Else?

TAP Air Portugal flies to Dakar from London City, Heathrow, Gatwick and Manchester via Lisbon

Delta is already flying direct from New York to Dakar twice a week.

Packing Guide

Dakar, Senegal

Now that you’ve booked your flight, shop our edit of travel essentials for Dakar.

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