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Why Senegal Should be on Your 2020 Travel Goals

Teetering at the tip of Africa’s westernmost peninsula, Dakar thrums with the energy of a city that defies easy categorisation. The art-centric capital is slick yet frenetic, proudly West African but Francophone, and these contrasts show in its mish-mash of old and new architecture and lively cultural scene. It’s one of the region’s safest and most politically stable cities and also the most accessible. Drive along the seaside Corniche and you’ll spot wetsuit-free surfers (there are world-class waves right off Ngor Island), sun-worshippers and oil-slick bodybuilders. At night the city comes alive with a hypnotic blend of the local mbalax dance beats, reggae and Senegalese hip-hop. Dakar hosts an annual Fashion Week in June and its Biennale is also back in 2020 (28 May – 28 June), marking the 30th anniversary of the event. The exhibition will showcase diverse forms of contemporary art, from sculptural to digital, under the title theme Ĩ’Ndaffa, or ‘out of the fire’. There are some sound business hotels in the area, such as the water-facing Terrou Bi and the Radisson Blu on the popular Sea Plaza. But Seku Bi, from surf brand Bantu Wax, is Dakar’s first design hotel. Divided between two French colonial villas within walking distance of Independence Square and the city centre, it’s the slickest place to stop while in town.