Wondering which are the top winter holiday travel destinations?
Today we have prepared something really original for your winter. Discover with us the the fascinating Sine Saloum Region, in Senegal
Imagine being waked up slowly by a peaceful silence broken only by a delicate water sloshing, an harmonious birds chirping and other wildlife’s calls. Imagine peeking out on a labyrinth expanse of waterways, swampy islands and thick mangroves; all around you, as an idyllic framework, majestic baobabs and tall palms trees. The sky is clear and the temperature is perfectly mild; a soft breeze gently caresses you.
Magic, isn’t it? Well, you would be happy to know that this dream place really exists. It is located in Senegal, south east of Dakar, between the Petite Côte and the north of the Gambia. In fact, it is actually a huge flat and verdant area mainly characterized by a spectacular Delta, with plenty of stunning and breathtaking landscapes.
Keep reading to discover the many beauties of the Sine Saloum region, one of the most popular and fascinating destination of the whole country. In case you are planning an escape from the cold this winter, get inspired to organize here your next exotic trip!
Cover_Credits: Alice Dottori
There is nothing quite like waking up in such a dream landscape (Credits: Alice Dottori)
Winter holiday travel destinations in Africa / The Delta, a unique corner of paradise
Originated by the merging of the Siné and Saloum rivers with the tidal waters of the Atlantic Ocean, the Sine Saloum Delta is an impressive vast wetland. Extending for approximately 180 square km, the area is disseminated with picturesque villages, water ways, salt flats and lush vegetation. The entire site is under the patronage of UNESCO and a Natural Park has been established in 1976 to protect the rich biodiversity.
In addition to the diverse flora and fauna, the area is also known for its historical and cultural importance. In fact, the many burial grounds found have provided an important insight into the history of human occupation in the area. Also, the Serer people, who have long inhabited the region, are still well known for their traditional arts and wrestling rituals.
The whole Delta is a region of great biodiversity characterized by mangrove swamps and sand islands ( Credits )
A paradise for birdwatchers and wildlife enthusiasts
Besides the mentioned UNESCO Natural Park, a real sanctuary for ornithologists and bird watchers, the Sine Saloum area is also home to several species of mammals; the renowned Fathala Wildlife Reserve, with its 6000 hectares of original and protected forest, offers the unique possibility to see from a little bit closer big animals like lions, giraffes, elands, rhinos and zebras.
Winter holiday travel destinations in Africa / Charming local villages
Short tours around local villages are also a must do: most of them are simple fishing communities and still preserve their original charm and character. You will love places like Djifer, Ndangane, Mar Lodj and Toubacouta and even though there is not that much to do around, except admiring the incredible landscapes or binge eating local seafood and oysters, their remote simplicity and rustic charm will totally fascinate you.
Coming from Dakar, plan a stop to visit the village of Joal- Fadiuth and its annex cemetery, whose peculiarity is to be islands entirely built on white shells.
Local communities rely mostly on fishing which is amazingly rich and abundant ( Credits )
The cemetery of Joal- Fadiuth, among baobabs and white shellfish, a fairly unique place.
Daily boat trips
To fully enjoy the Sine Saloum, get out on the water on the local colorful pirogues. Short trips can be easily arranged in any of the local villages and they will give you a totally different perspective of the area; following slowly the streams, you can either stay on the main channels or moving between sandy spits and mangroves’ labyrinths to get enchanted by the surrounding nature and spot large groups of waterfowls.
Let your self gently floating in this paradise of water and mangroves ( Credits )
Local wrestling (La Lutte)
And If you want to go deeper in local traditions, do not miss out a match of local wrestling on the occasion of the several tournaments organized among villages, a very interesting mixture of fighting, mysticism and spiritualism. While the real physical engagement might last only a few minutes, what is worth watching is all the preparatory phase which includes unusual propitiatory rituals and a crescendo of loud musics and drums will that will gradually captivate the crowd and almost dizzy you; a truly unforgettable experience!
Born originally as a set of preparatory exercises for war among the Serer warriors, today La Lutte has outgrown its ethnic origin to become a very popular national sport played in big stadiums for huge prizes.
Watching a match of “La Lutte “ will definitely impress (and dizz) you ( Credits )
The best time to visit the Sine Saloum is from November to June, when the temperatures are perfectly mild the rainy season has not started yet.
Curious about Senegal and its other main attractions?