Senegal 11 days
March 15-25 2013 (ex-London) or
Senegal 10 days
March 15-24 2013 (ex-Dakar)
Dakar is one of the hottest music capitals of Africa - renowned for its high-energy mbalax music, the rhythmic dance style pioneered by Youssou N'Dour; and its hip-hop scene, one of the most vibrant in Africa, credited for bringing an end to 40 years of socialist rule in 2000. But as well as being an exciting and lively city, it's also part of the developing world and hard to negotiate as an outsider.
Music programmes often change without warning but with Songlines' help, you can find the best local sounds, from mbalax to folk via reggae, roots and hip-hop, and get an understanding of the music at its roots.
Music starts late in Dakar - most concerts get going around 1am - but there's also a relaxing mid-week trip to the beautiful old colonial capital of St Louis where you will have the chance to spend a few days by the beach, exploring the town or visiting the famous bird park of Djoudj. In Dakar we'll also take you to the busy downtown cloth markets and on to Gorée Island. It's a pleasant trip now, but the history is grim. It's from here that West African slaves were dispatched to the New World.
Dakar's nightspots are infamous, including Youssou's Thiossane, Thione Seck's Penc-me, the fashionable Just4U and the youthful Yengoulène. Bands like the legendary Orchestra Baobab, the super-cool maverick guitarist Cheikh Lô and the young singing star Carlou D often play on the weekends, but it's impossible to guarantee who will be there. Some things may be impossible to arrange, but usually something surprising turns up to make up for it. If you are prepared to be flexible and to stay up late, you will not be disappointed.
All Songlines Music Travellers will receive an information sheet about the local music, plus recommended recordings and DVDs.
Senegal Travel Itinerary
Day 1 Fri
Today we meet our Travel Leader in the hotel in Dakar. (Many clients, whether using a flight booked through Songlines Music Travel or booking their own flights, may arrive in the early hours of Saturday morning, and will then meet the Travel Leader at breakfast on day 2).
Day 2 Sat
After breakfast a meeting with our Travel Leader will provide an introduction to the days ahead. The rest of the morning is free to rest or take a walk into the bustling streets of the capital. In the afternoon there will be an orientation tour of Dakar to give you a sense of what there is to see. In the evening, after a late dinner, we'll get a taste of music on a Saturday night in Dakar.
Day 3 Sun
After breakfast we leave Dakar for a drive of some 200 miles up the Atlantic coast to St Louis - the old French colonial capital of West Africa. With a stop at a forest of baobab trees, we should arrive in St Louis in the late afternoon. After checking into our hotel, there's time for a walk on the beach or a swim in the pool before dinner.
Day 4 Mon
This morning we have arranged a walking tour of the historic heart of the city. St Louis has a 19th century feel about it and has been compared, with its decaying colonial charm, to Bahia in Brazil, Havana in Cuba and the French quarter of New Orleans. Once the capital of Senegal, it lost the role at independence, but in 2000 was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site. In the afternoon, there will be a chance to learn some djembe rhythms and dances on the beach in a specially organized class with local drummers.
Day 5 Tues
Today is free to explore more of St Louis. Some travellers might like to arrange a trip to a World Heritage site, the National Park of the Birds of Djoudj, home to a huge range of species including pelicans and flamingoes where a pirogue (wooden fishing boat) ride along the waterways will allow glimpses of the birdlife.
Day 6 Wed
The morning is free to relax by the beach, wander the streets of St Louis, visit local cloth weavers or buy some Mauritanian jewellery. In the afternoon we drive back to Dakar and in the evening, after dinner, we head out to uncover one of the bands playing a mid-week set.
Day 7 Thurs
Today we take a ferry to the island of Gorée. A visit to the Slave Museum, a more relaxed stroll along the sandy streets and a break for lunch at one of the many restaurants by the beach next to the jetty. We'll head back to town in time for a few hours in the hotel before setting out for the evening.
Days 8 & 9 Fri & Sat
Friday and Saturday are the two best nights of the music week in Dakar so we aim to spend the entire weekend in the capital. But as well as the music, these three days are free for you to explore the markets of Dakar, or to head for the beaches on Ngor Island. You might like to visit the cloth market, go to the Artist's Village and meet local painters and sculptors, or visit the local CD market- the choice is yours. In the evenings there's plenty of music available and your Travel Leader will be seeking out the best sounds to take you through the night.
Day 10 Sun
After breakfast our tour ends and it's time to head for the airport and the flight home, or to continue our travels in Senegal.
Senegal Pricing Details
Tour price (excluding flights) £1,150 per person
For information and reservations, call Songlines Music Travel on 020 8505 2582
“I really think these Songlines Music Travel trips are excellent value. You go to a part of the globe that is just so rich in musical culture and you're guided to all the best places by someone who has lived there, speaks the language and loves the music. You can't get better than that.” Maureen Ni Fiann following her SLMT trip to Senegal in 2009.