I decided to take a day trip to Ile de N’gor a tiny island just off of Dakar’s north coast. This trip can easily be done as a day trip or even a half day trip, but there are hotels on the island if you want to stay longer. I walked from my hostel to the Plage de N’Gor, which was about 1 mile. At this point, I was feeling much more comfortable getting around Dakar and felt that I had my bearings. Google maps has been a game changer traveling in this region. In other areas, it is easy to ask people on the street to get to a destination. But with everyone speaking French or Woloff, it was impossible to rely on this. I felt very comfortable walking around, and did not feel that I drew that much attention even as a solo female. Compared to other countries (India or Morocco) I have received very little to no hassling while on the street. No one is trying to get me to buy anything or take me to their shop, which makes walking around much more enjoyable. I was not exactly sure how to ultimately get to the island and ended up taking a detour (by accident) and walked through very narrow pathways to get to the beach.
Map location Ile de N’gor:
Pathway leading from street to the beach. There are several ways to get to Plage including going through a hotel that lines the beach area:
This was my first view of the beach in Senegal. The beaches are not the cleanest, with a decent amount of trash scattered around. You will also see many goats roaming around, which I thought was pretty funny and something I have never seen. The beaches are not what you are going to get in the Caribbean, or even Florida, and I would not rank them along with the other ‘alternative’ more exotic beach destinations such as Goa in India.
Plage de N’gor
Where goats run wild:
Building the pirogue:
I walked along the water until I spotted what seemed to be the area with the boats. I as immediately approached by someone who wanted to ‘help’ me. I am always very wary and cautious of any type of help when I’m traveling abroad. This usually winds up with someone asking for money once they have offered you help (this was especially true in Morocco and they are known as faux guides). However, the Senegalese man who ended up showing me where to buy the ferry ticket was very nice and not aggressive. I think he ultimately (maybe) wanted to be my guide once I got to the island, but once I told him I was meeting friends he backed off immediately. He did not even ask for money for the help he did provide.
With the Senegalese man who helped me figure out the ferry:
Getting a ferry ticket:
This has happened to me several times in Senegal, where people have come up to talk to me and genuinely just wanted to say hi and welcome me to their country. I have been caught off guard by the genuine hospitality of the people here. Many of them do not speak enough English where I can hold a full conversation with them, but we are generally able to have a half conversation for a few minutes. The people who have approached me on the street have been excited that an American was visiting their country and they have even seemed a little bit timid or nervous in approaching me. I really wish I knew more French because I do feel like I am missing out on conversations with local people as a result.
I headed over to the island on a pirogue boat which seem to leave ever 45 minutes or so. You will get wet getting on to the boat and getting off, and the entire time the boat feels like it’s about to go over. Compared to other water transportation in Senegal and W.Africa, everyone is given a life jacket, so that was comforting. The boat ride is only 5 minutes and cost 1000CFA or 1.66USD.
Boarding the boat:
Once I got over to the other side, I decided to walk around the island. It was very quiet and not many people were walking around, and you can walk from one end to the other in about 20 minutes. Along the way there were many cool doors and small houses. There was a really cool spot on the way northern side of the island where the waves crashed into a bunch of rocks.
Most northern side of the island:
The many cool doreways on the island:
The island had a peaceful feel to it, until I ran into someone trying to sell me bracelets/necklaces etc. I could not shake this person so I ended up buying something just so they would leave me alone. I initially thought this was a headband, but it is definitely just a necklace. I really do not like being haggled (I know no one likes this, but I really can’t stand it and wears me down fast) so I went and spent some time laying by the beach.
This is me minutes after the haggle:
There were a few restaurants lining the beach and a small beach front where you could swim. I was not approached at all after I sat down, which is pretty unheard of as beaches in touristy type areas are known for vendors and other people walking up and down trying to sell you stuff. So far, I would not label any area I have been to in Senegal as ‘touristy’ but there were more European travelers on this island that I have seen so far, but no where close to what you would see in other destinations. I ordered Sprite and read my current book “Building Social Business: The new kind of capitalism that serves humanity’s most pressing needs” by Muhammad Yunus – the founder of Microfinance and of Grameen Bank. I am really interested in Microfinance and lending to SME (small medium enterprises) in developing countries, but more on that in another post.
Beach front at N’gor:
Restaurant at the beach:
Looking out to Dakar:
I would definitely recommend checking out this small island if you are in Dakar and have some time. It was great to get out of the city and hang out for the day. Another interesting part of visiting this island is that many of the local people also make a day trip out of it. It’s always fun to explore a spot where locals consider a cool place to get away, instead of just being one of the many tourists visiting a very touristy place. It was a much different pace from the city and it was cool to see Dakar from a different viewpoint.
I was even lucky enough to catch some goats on my walk back: