I was in Mbour for 5 hours in October and had a great time.
As I shared previously, I visited Mbour during a short but much appreciated trip two months ago. The day before the trip, I contacted El Hadj, the taxi driver that a Senegalese family friend recommended when I needed a ride late at night.
I chose to travel with him instead of using public transport for the following reasons: (1) for more flexibility in terms of where I go and how long, (2) to avoid worrying about getting a new ride after every stop, (3) to avoid sharing confined spaces with strangers while it is hot and humid outside, (4) because I wanted to relax and enjoy air conditioning in a clean taxi. The fourth reason was a true selling point: ElHadj – who supposedly gets his car washed every evening – has the most comfortable taxi I have taken in Dakar so far.
In this post I share a recap of what I did in one of Senegal’s most visited departments to give you an idea of what you could do if you could spend a few hours in Mbour.
How to spend an afternoon in Mbour
Buy fruits near Sindia
El Hadj and I left Dakar for Mbour around 10am. The drive should have been about an hour since we traveled on a Sunday and the roads were mostly clear. We stopped a couple of times, however. The first time, I noticed women selling fruits on the side of the road. Though I can buy some in Dakar, I know from experience that goods sell cheaper outside large cities. Though I was initially interested in the fruits, I spent a couple of minutes trying to get the attention and affection of a little boy (because my love for little humans has no limits). Eventually I got lime, lemon and grapefruit to make fresh juices.
Take pictures in a field of baobabs (or on a truck) near Sindia
After that stop, I told ElHadj to park the car near the Bandia Reserve when I saw hundreds of baobab trees in an open field. It was the first time I saw so many in one place so I wanted to take some photos. As I was encouraging ElHadj to pose and live the model life, we spotted farmers and truck drivers. After a brief chat, I asked if I could take some photos of and with them. I liked the truck with “Merci Maman” (“thank you mom” in French) written in front of it.
Go to the beach in Saly
When we got to Saly, the resort area of Mbour, we headed straight for the beach to check it out. Although the beaches in Saly are not the most beautiful I’ve seen in my life, the hotels and views in the area are worth a trip. I saw why La Petite Cote is a popular weekend destination among Senegalese and expatriates in Dakar. In fact, I briefly considered checking into one of the most recommended accommodation options in the Saly-Mbour area (Tama Lodge, Neptune, Royam, Rhino Resort Hotel and Spa, and the Lamantin Beach Resort and Spa) and taking Monday off.
Buy souvenirs in Saly
I checked out arts and crafts on our way out of Saly to Mbour’s port and fish market. To be very honest, I did not plan to buy anything because I live in Senegal and don’t need souvenirs from my time here (yet). But the man selling the goods in the photo below was welcoming and kind when I asked if I could take some pictures after asking questions about his work. Grateful for his time and generosity, and recognizing that he works hard, I got a Fulani-style hat featuring the colors of the Senegalese flag (red, yellow and green).
Visit Mosquée Serigne in Mbour
The Serigne Saliou Mbake Mosque (“La Grande Mosquée de Mbour”) was our next stop. Inaugurated in 2015, the pink mosque features blue cupolas and two tall minarets (towers with a balcony from which muezzins call Muslims to prayer five times a day). Although it is easily accessible, the whole building is barely visible from the street.
I photographed the mosque then met and laughed with strangers after a man reprimanded me (in Wolof, but El Hadj explained later). Though I had not approached the mosque out of respect and for lack of time, he was unhappy that I showed my shoulders and hair on religious ground. I left soon after apologizing for making him uncomfortable.
Visit the port and fish market in Mbour
(Note: More details about my time at the port and market and some photos are available here.)
It was interesting to see the fishermen. While some happily sang as they took in nets and got off their boat, others clearly looked exhausted and ready to call it a day as soon as possible. On the beach, people like the man in the photos below (who told me to call him ‘Lion’) were waiting for them and/or cooking fresh fish. Like some others, Lion spared a few moments to say hi, smile, and chat with me. Later he even suggested to take a picture with one of the fish he was cooking.
People like Lion and moments like those I had in Mbour enrich my love of travel and exploring. I started the journey mentally exhausted and eager to get out of Dakar. I returned certain that I will have an exciting, memorable and fulfilling experience in Senegal if I look out for opportunities to have days like the time I spent 5 fun hours in Mbour.
Have you ever taken a spontaneous trip? Where did you go? Would you do it again?
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