Senegal might not be atop your bucket list of countries to visit, but if you do end up planning a trip to this African gem on the Atlantic Ocean coastline, you’d better learn about the best time to visit Senegal.
In addition, we’ll tell you when to steer away from the peak season crowds and what amount of money to set aside to ensure a smooth stay. Stick with us to the end of this carefully crafted guide, as there’s a useful FAQ section too!
The Best Time to Visit Senegal
The best time to visit Senegal is during the dry season, which lasts from November through March. Travelers flock to Senegal at this time to take advantage of the pleasant weather — this means making reservations well in advance is a must.
Next, keep in mind that the Niokolo-Koba National Park is open from mid-December to the end of April, so if you visit Senegal during the dry season, pay the park a visit too.
Arguably the prime location to observe elephants, hippos, crocodiles, elephants, and antelopes, this park will make you fall in love with the African wilderness. The country’s dry season is ideal for bird watching, too!
We also advise you to make time for the Gorée Diaspora Festival (November). Promoting the connection between Senegal and the descendants of slaves from Gorée island, this festival aims at blending both traditional and contemporary music performances, debates, seminars, exhibitions, and dances.
Popular public holidays in November include All Saint’s Day, the Grand Magal of Touba, and Prophet Mohhammed’s birthday, so check out local celebrations.
Although Senegal is a Muslim country, Christmas is still celebrated. If you head to the capital, you’ll come across Christmas trees and plenty of lights.
That said, don’t expect the Western way of celebrating Christmas with myriads of festivities and endless fireworks. If you’re into fashion, make sure to attend Dakar Fashion Week in December.
Between Boxing Day and January 2, the Abéné Festivalo takes place. Hosted on a yearly basis, the Abéné Festivalo honors Casamance culture through djembe, wrestling, dancing recitals, and other performances.
Cheapest Time to Visit Senegal
The cheapest time to visit Senegal is in September. Being the least expensive month, September provides visitors with attractive airfare prices and affordable hotel rates.
There’s a caveat, though. The reason why Septembers are cheap in Senegal is thanks to the heavy rainfall accompanied by humidity and hot days.
The month sees an average relative humidity of 81% and temperatures around 80°F. Although not the ideal combination for most travelers, if you’re on a budget, taking advantage of this month’s offer may turn out to be just great.
First of all, fishing is top-notch at this time, but if that isn’t your thing, you can simply hit the waters — think jet skiing, scuba diving, and flyboarding.
Also, September visitors will be right on time for the yearly religious pilgrimage, the Grand Magal of Touba. Commemorating the exile of Ahmadou Bamba to Gabon, this event grows in popularity year after year.
Least Busy Time to Visit Senegal
The least busy time to visit Senegal is in September and October. And no wonder — with September’s humidity and October being the hottest month in the entire year, travelers should really think before undertaking any strenuous outdoor activities.
But if you wish to enjoy Senegal’s laid-back vibe and beach bars in greater solitude, this limbo period is absolutely ideal.
Those lucky enough to make it in time for La Fête du Roi, celebrating Senegal’s Southern King, will find their stay unforgettable. Be it wrestling competitions, spiritual rituals, or warrior dances, La Fête du Roi is always a fun event to attend.
Worst Time to Visit Senegal
The worst time to visit Senegal is in July or August. Being the rainiest months, July and August can easily make all your plans go out the window.
Smooth transportation used to be a big issue during the country’s wet season, and while that situation has improved, you can still stumble upon obstacles and roadblocks if you wander off the beaten path.
That said, traffic on the roads is slower at this time anyway, even without flooding. The rain also awakens some of the most annoying summer creatures — mosquitos.
Considering malaria is endemic in Senegal, these rainy months require you to take that much extra caution. The coastal cities are said to have a much lower risk for malaria, though, but still be extremely cautious.
With that said, not everything is bad during the wet season. For example, the lush landscape is a nice “side” effect of the intense rainfall.
Also, this period sees plenty of memorable national holidays, such as the Christian festival of Assumption (August), celebrating the assumption of Mary’s body and soul into heaven, and Tabaski, or Eid-al-Adha (August), a Muslim commemoration of Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his son for God.
Things to Consider
Knowing the best time to visit Senegal is just the beginning of your African adventure — here’s what else you need to ensure a memorable (and safe!) trip to Senegal:
- If you’re an American citizen, you don’t need a visa to enter Senegal if you’re staying for a maximum of 90 days.
- The CDC advises travelers to take prescription meds to prevent malaria. Also, check if your vaccinations are up to date.
- Taxis are widely available in most areas, and bargaining with the driver is common.
- Eat with your right hand only — it’s considered common dining etiquette. Also, if food is served on a mat, cross your legs, but keep your feet away from the food area.
- Swim only in designated areas. Avoid ponds, lakes, or rivers, as many parasitic infections are spread in fresh water.
- As Senegal’s majority are Muslims, visitors should be aware that visiting during Ramadan means most businesses won’t operate with regular work hours.
- Foreigners are expected to tip — more established venues have a 10-15% service charge already included as part of the bill; if that’s not the case, 10% is considered suitable. Rounding up your bill is also very much appreciated, considering locals’ low wages.
- Drinking tap water in Senegal isn’t safe — stick to filtered or bottled water. If you wish to avoid buying plastic bottles due to environmental reasons, you can bring water purification tablets.
- Credit cards are usually accepted at major hotels, certain restaurants, and very few shops, so make sure to bring enough cash. Also, note that while you can find ATMs in all cities, rural areas are tricky. Plus, not all ATMs accept foreign cards.
- While mobile phone coverage is solid in most cities, the same can’t be said for the less urban areas.
- Note that most beaches don’t have lifeguards, and the currents can be strong, so use common sense and take care while swimming.
Over to You — Book Your Trip Today!
|👍 Best Time to Visit||November-March|
|💲 Cheapest Time to Visit||September|
|🗓️ Least Busy Time to Visit||September-October|
|👎 Worst Time to Visit||July-August|
Senegal’s authenticity, hospitality, nature, and memorable points of interest will make even the most traveled of people look in awe and plan their return trip even before their holiday has actually ended. Happy travels!