When it comes to culture, Senegal is a very lively country, as proved by the two main events which have been taking place there for years; those are the Jazz Festival in Saint Louis and the Biennale of Art in Dakar. The Jazz Festival is such an important event in the international music scene that the main artists attend it every year. Artists like Archie Sheep, Randy Weston, Lucky Peterson, Jake DeJohnette, Mc Coy Tyner, Ali Farka Tourè, Abdoullah Ibrahim, and Joe Zawinul have walked the stages throughout the years. Artists who have changed Jazz’s history. When the sun goes down, the Jazz’s rhythms mix with the natural African ones. Liveliness, music, and theater performances are the background of the Biennale of Art in Dakar which aims at showing contemporary African art.
Arrival at the airport and transfer to the hotel.
Saint Louis, Jazz in a charming town
We continue to Saint Louis, a charming old town that was the first capital of all French colonies in West Africa. On the banks of the Senegal estuary, it first became an outpost of the French colonial penetration – spices, slaves, gold, and Arabic gum all arrived via the river. It was thanks to the ventilated climate and advantageous location, that the presence of European merchants had always been constant, even before the actual colonial period. The city itself was later built on two large islands, between the river and the ocean. Having been the former station of the “Aeropostale” airmail pioneer operation, Saint Exupéry himself – the famous aviator and author of “The Little Prince” – had a base here as well! The best way to visit the narrow lanes of Saint Louis is by calash, just as locals do! Time to enjoy the unique atmosphere of this old town. We will spend the nights in the town’s historic hotel – built in 1895 and now fully renovated, it was here that all Aeropostale pilots use to stay.
In the mornings: City tour of Saint Louis.
We will have one half-day excursion to Langue de Barberie to discover a unique humid and isolated ecosystem, limited to the north by the dunes of the Sahara and to the south by the dry Sahelian savannah. This “humid paradise” – the best habitat and nesting site for over a million migratory and resident birds – lies on the southeastern bank of the Senegal River and offers a range of wetland habitats that are very popular with migrating birds, many of which get here after crossing the Sahara. Out of over 400 species, pelicans and flamingos are the most common, whereas aquatic warblers are a bit less conspicuous – migrating here from Europe, this park is their single most important wintering site yet discovered. Apart from birds, a wide range of wildlife is also present.
During 5 days we will attend the main event of the Jazz festival, particularly the evening concerts. During the day, time to relax, time to enjoy jam sessions.
Drive to Dakar where we will stay for the next three days to enjoy the Biennale. In the mornings we will do a city tour of Dakar and Gorèè island. In the afternoon, we will enjoy the various shows which take place all over the city including the island of Goree and Ngor. Three days of visual art, music, and theater in a pure “African Style” in Dakar: the center of political, artistic, and intellectual “renouveau”. Artists and programs to be announced.
Optional: day excursion to Lac Rose, a shallow saltwater lake surrounded by dunes, also known as Lac Retba. The water is ten times saltier than in the ocean and thanks to the high concentration the lake often shimmers pink. More than 600 workers here collect salt in the traditional way. Along the coast, we discover the largest fisherman village in Senegal, more than 4500 wooden painted pirogues came to the shore with the catch of the day… We will live our vehicles for a less intrusive, but fun, donkey chariot to approach the fisherman selling to the local market women, to meet the artisans craving the large pirogues, the painters decorating them with bright colors, and if we are lucky the “local saint” for final blessing before sailing.
Morning and early afternoon are dedicated to the Biennale. In the late afternoon, transfer to the airport and end of services.