Senegal: The Spirit of Hospitality

Day 1 Arrival in Senegal & Transfer to Thiès. We meet our fellow travelers and Where There Be Dragons instructors for a briefing about the journey ahead. We rest and explore the regional capital of Thiès (pronounced as “chess”), a vibrant metropolis that balances its proximity and economic ties to Dakar and its deep roots in the surrounding villages. This city with a small town feel reflects the play of contrasts that is characteristic of Senegal in the 21st century as new developments occur beside centuries-old traditions. Women adorned in brightly colored, elegant boubous walk down the street speaking Wolof on their cell phones while barefooted talibé children beg for change in busy markets. The Islamic call to prayer sounds five times a day, and on Fridays, hundreds of people stop to worship on the city’s sidewalks.
Day 2-3 Orientation & Adventure in Thiès During our time in Thiès, we engage with local people and explore topics around arts and music, religion, development, and gender issues. We visit an NGO working in the field of development, view an artists’ studio, learn from guest speakers, and enjoy lunch within the home of local hosts. We start to think critically about the meaning of service and how the global context connects to development issues in Senegal. For the particularly adventurous, there is the option for personalized cultural connection through a homestay.
Day 4-6 From Thiès, we drive 4 hours north to the region of St. Louis. The former colonial capital of West Africa and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, St. Louis is an idyllic town with brightly painted shops, sandy alleyways, and crumbling colonial architecture. We spend our first day in the region exploring the town, meeting with local artists, and learning about the impacts of climate change on the fishing industry. In the old town centre, we have time for solo exploration, perusing shops, or for people watching over a French coffee in a quaint outdoor venue. At night, we settle into a peaceful waterfront campement in the village of Mouit, along the Grande Côte just outside of Saint Louis. This stunning coastal haven is tucked in among mangroves and is just minutes from the Langue de Barbarie National Park, known for its colorful abundance of migratory bird species. On our second day, we take an intimate look at rural life, spending an afternoon in the homes of local families and enjoying the slow rhythm of daily life in the village.
Day 7-8 Dakar Expedition We transition from the quiet rhythm of rural life and travel 5 hours south to the bustling capital of Dakar. Staying in Yoff, we are situated adjacent to the Atlantic Ocean, approximately half an hour taxi ride from downtown. During our final two days, we explore the vast array of what West African urban culture has to offer. We take an excursion to the small island of Ile de Goree to learn about the history of the Atlantic slave trade. We have the option to visit the headquarters of an international NGO, providing a deeper understanding of global development agendas. There will also be time to leisurely explore the vibrant markets and listen to some of West Africa’s best music during engaging live performances at one of Dakar’s trendy urban establishments. For our final evening, we gather in an inspiring seaside location to come together as a group and celebrate our journey.