Dakar

Bustling city markets 
IFAN Museum of African Arts
Gorée's House of Slaves

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Dakar

A city of contradictions

Arriving to Senegal with an MSC cruise, Dakar’s great restaurants, outstanding music scene and alluring beaches give other African capitals a real run for their money.

The architecture and leafy boulevards of the downtown “Plateau” area – a peninsula poking south into the Atlantic – are more evocative of southern France than Africa: to be reminded where you are, visit the IFAN Museum, with its large collections of crafts and ritual objects, or any of Dakar’s lively markets. Kermel has souvenirs, fish, flowers and fruit, Sandaga offers household goods, CDs and attaché cases made of beer cans, and the Cour des Orfèvres has Moorish silverware.

Youssou N’Dour’s home town of Dakar has been a musical hotbed ever since his career took off in the 1980s, with artists from the region flocking to the city’s clubs and studios. A twenty-minute voyage from frenetic Dakar, an highly recommended MSC excursion will allow you to visit the UNESCO-protected island of Gorée, sheltered from the Atlantic by the Dakar peninsula. Gorée’s notorious history as a slave depot and its sleepy, slightly scholarly present-day incarnation – pastel-coloured mansions and a clutch of museums above the shore – make it an excellent and instructive escape from the city.

The Maison des Esclaves (House of Slaves) was used to store “pieces of ebony” before they were shipped to the Americas, and the IFAN Historical Museum, housed in the Fort d’Estrées, takes you through the history of Dakar.

Must see places in Dakar

  • Dakar Grand Mosque

    Dakar Grand Mosque

  • Pink Lake

    Pink Lake

  • The Slave Trade Museum on Goree Island

    The Slave Trade Museum on Goree Island

Discover our excursions

5 results found

  • CIY TOUR (approx. 3 ½ hours)

    DAK01

    In this panoramic excursion through the main streets and squares of Dakar you will pass by Independence Square, the heart of the city, Leopold Senghor Avenue in the business district of Dakar and at the President's Palace you will have time to take a picture .You will pass by the "National Assembly”; (Senegalese House of Parliament), the Cathedral of Dakar, the Great Mosque, Fann residential district featuring the typical sudano - sahelian architectural style. The excursion also includes a visit to the handicraft market of Soumbedioune and to a Sand Painting gallery, which is a very popular Senegalese art, in various works and different facets of the country's daily life. Note: Limited seats. Foreign guides different from English are limited.
      • Duration
        3:30 h

      • Adults55Price per person

      • Children52Price per person

    • GOREE ISLAND (approx. 3 hours)

      DAK03

      We will sail by ferry to Gorée Island and visit the House of the Slaves, built as a memorial for the millions of victims to slavery. You will visit the historic museum and the fort; we will stop at the ancient governor's Palace and have free time for shopping at the small craft market of the island. Note: Limited seats. Foreign guides different from English are limited.
        • Duration
          3 h

        • Adults79Price per person

        • Children75Price per person

      • ROSE LAKE (approx. 4 ½ hours)

        DAK02

        We leave Dakar by coach the Pink Lake Retba, going through the Niayes green vegetation belt of Dakar. You will stop in a Wolof village on the way to the lake and you will meet the inhabitants. Once at Pink Lake you will leave the coach and continue the excursion by jeep for a pleasant ride across the desert dunes, we will stop at the Rose Lake, which name derives from the colour of the water. Time at your disposal for taking pictures. Note: Limited seats. Foreign guides different from English are limited.
          • Duration
            4:30 h

          • Adults82Price per person

          • Children75Price per person

        • THE MONASTERY OF KEUR MOUSSA approx. 4.5 hours

          CULTURE AND HISTORY

          DAK07

          The tour begins with an hour long bus transfer to reach the village of Sebikotane, known for its fruit and vegetable production. After a brief stop you will continue to the Monastery of Keur Moussa whose name in local language means the "House of Moses". Your guide will give you information around this monastery that was founded in 1961 by 9 monks of the Benedictine order of Solesmes in France. They have also adapted the Catholic mass by using traditional African musical instruments. You will also have the opportunity to admire the typical architecture of this building, where local musical instruments are produced and typical products such as melons, honey and mango. Please note: the number of guides for languages other than English is limited.
          • No guide available

          • Limited seats

          • May involve a limited quantity of steps, uneven surfaces and/or periods of standing

            Difficulty Level
            Easy

          • Duration
            4:30 h

          • Adults75Price per person

          • Children69Price per person

        • THE BANDIA RESERVE approx. 4.5 hours

          NATURAL WONDERS

          DAK09

          After an hour long bus transfer you will have the opportunity to visit the fascinating Bandia Reserve, situated 65km South-West of Dakar, in a dry forest dominated by acacias and very old baobab trees. Once you have reached the reserve you will climb on board of a jeep where a local guide will show you the places where the animals are: the giraffes, the birds, among the baobabs, in a protected natural zone of 3500 hectares. Some animals are from Senegal, others have been brought from East Africa, but they are well-suited for the climate. Return to the port. Please note: the number of guides for languages other than English is limited.
          • No guide available

          • Limited seats

          • May involve a limited quantity of steps, uneven surfaces and/or periods of standing

            Difficulty Level
            Easy

          • Duration
            4:30 h

          • Adults82Price per person

          • Children75Price per person

        The excursions in the programme above are intended to provide MSC Cruises guests with an idea of the different tours which can be arranged in each port of call; this programme is merely a guide and confirmation of each excursion and its description and prices will be made during your cruise. 
        Shore excursions programmes and itineraries may vary depending on local conditions and/or any unforeseen events in relation to the timing on the day of the tour.
         
        Some excursions are very popular and therefore availability cannot always be guaranteed, it is advisable to book in advance to avoid disappointment. The guides are guaranteed in English. Only for South America cruises, the guides are guaranteed in Brazilian Portuguese. Narration in other languages depends on the availability of guides. Please note that the final language of the tour will be confirmed on board during the cruise.

        Senegal

        Peanut fields and empty savannas
        Peanut fields and empty savannas

        Senegal is the biggest holiday destination in West Africa, with dozens of beach hotels, mostly catering to French visitors, to the north and south of the relatively handsome capital, Dakar, which a cruise to Senegal will show you.

        Head north towards the Mauritanian border, and you reach France’s first trading post in the country, the time-warped colonial capital of St-Louis. Turn south and the beaches splinter into sandbars and creeks in the delta of the Saloum River, a fine birdwatching area. Inland, much of the country is flat, baobab-specked savannah and peanut fields, but there are interesting areas, culturally, in the far southeast, where you also find one of West Africa’s best national parks, Niokolo-Koba, with significant big game. Senegal is a highly stratified society based on class and caste differences and dominated by its biggest tribe, the Wolof. They figure prominently in government and business and their kingdoms used to cover the heart of the country – an area now largely under fields of all-important peanuts.

        French style and Islamic convictions coexist with great success, though both elements are introductions of the last century and a half. In the far south of Senegal, on the other side of The Gambia, a completely different tribal and social structure prevails in the forests and creeks.