Gorée Island and Lac Rose

Trip Start Oct 08, 2011
Trip End Oct 16, 2011

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Where I stayed
Royam Hotel Saly
Read my review - 5/5 stars
What I did
Goree Island Dakar
Read my review - 4/5 stars
Lake Retba (Lac Rose)

Flag of Senegal  , La Petite Côte,
Friday, October 14, 2011

Good morning!

It's 06h30 (local time) and it's time to have breakfast. Today we will travel to Dakar and we will visit Gorée Island and also Lake Retba (also know as Pink Lake or Lac Rose).
At 07h00, we met François, our guide for the day. It's time to get other passengers from different hotels. We have met a belgian couple and also another portuguese family. Nice people!

First we have to get to Dakar. It's quite an adventure to get there because of the huge amount of traffic and busy streets. We had to go several time on side roads (with bumps and holes) to get there early. When there is a traffic jam, you find that the roads are filled with people selling fruits, water, car spare parts and other product. Everywhere is a place to make business.

At 10h45, we finally arrived at Dakar Maritime Port to get the ferry to Gorée Island. It's already hot and the temperature is rising fast. The fresh maritime breeze cools a little but it's not enough :)

It's a 20 minute journey by ferry (more or less) to get to Gorée. Gorée Island is now classified as a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage. It's quite beautiful and with traces of the old days. Near the port you'll find the local police station, which used to be a Portuguese Chapel from the XV century and also the first building ever built in Gorée.

There are lots and lots of people, trying to sell products and local craftsmanship. François takes us to the House of Slaves by some side streets, where we can see the actual and not so tourist sightseeing Gorée. And finally we arrived at the House of Slaves, an old redish house, where slaves were kept before sending them to America, for work. The local guide tells us the story and historical facts of this house, show us the miserable conditions where hundreds of slaves where kept, families separated, men on one side, women and children on the other, the punishment place under the stairs... it's heartbreaking to see how the Human race is cruel on each other. Don't miss a visit on this place and never forget that it's part of the World Cultural Heritage.

After that, it's time to keep walking and see other beautiful sites, like the St. Charles Borromee Church and convent. 

After a small resting time to rest, it's time to go up along the fortress to the castle. It's a long way up and on the walls, we can see lots and lots of painting from local artists. It fills the fortress with colours and joy.
It's time to visit one local sand painting artist. It's an open gallery, where you can see the artists working and also where you can buy sand paintings. It's amazing to see how a little bit of glue and some pinches of coloured sand make a beautiful sand painting. It's worth the visit!

After that, we kept climbing... until we reach the Navarone Guns. From up there, the top of the castle, you have a great view of the Atlantic Ocean and to the other side, the capital city Dakar.

It's already 12h30 and it's time to have lunch. François made reservation for us at the Dolce Vita restaurant (inside the fortress walls). We had chicken (Senegalese style) and it was quite yummy. No trouble at all with the food or drinks. After lunch, we came down and we went to the Gorée Island port, enjoying the views and the local craftsmanship.

At 14h00 (more or less) we took the ferry boat back to Dakar, where the driver was already waiting to take us to the Lake Retba (Lac Rose).

The journey to the Lake Retba is the bumpiest journey I've had in Senegal. The road is in bad shape, lot's of holes and driving there is quite an adventure. After 20 minutes going sideways, left and right on the road we finally arrive at the lake.

The locals run towards us, hoping to make business. In quite tricky to be there and enjoy the scenery. The lake is pinkish... not as pink as they tell us, but still is has some pink colour (depending on the Sun). I admit, sometimes, looks more like brown than pink, but I guess that it has to do with the Sun and the salt concentration on the water. Without questions is that the lake is salty! On the banks of the lake, there are piles and piles of salt.

It's now time to go to the other side of the lake. We will ride the dunes on a 4-wheel drive jeep or truck. François can't tell us yet... it will depend on the reservation made by the travel agency.

It's a truck... a very old truck. Looks like that came from the World War II. 

The driver is experienced in this journeys over the dunes. It's not easy and the steering wheel goes clock and anticlockwise so easily. On the dunes, we are taken up and down, looking for another view of the Lac Rose, until we get to the other side... the Atlantic Ocean. Such a breathtaking scenery.
It's time to take some photos and appreciate the moment.

Behind us, the driver hits the truck engine furiously. It's a VERY OLD TRUCK!!

Time to say goodbye, enjoy the dunes one more time and hit the road back to Saly.

To "escape" from the bumpy road that took us to Lac Rose we went in a different road... of red dirt. Not better, not worst... just different. But gave us another view of surroundings of Dakar. It's a very poor country. Families gather everywhere to talk, smoke or just to spend the time... and kids run everywhere and play football. Future professional players... make no mistake :) 
We can never forget that the Lions of Teranga (the National Football Team nickname) won against France by 1 goal in the World Cup of 2002 (31/05/2002 - Seoul). SE-NE-GAL!!


The journey back to Saly is long. It took us about 90 minutes to start leaving guests back at their hotels. After more 30 minutes we finally arrived at the Royam. It's about 18h10... and there's time for a small swim in the pool, where we met Lydia, Laura, António and Rafa.

After a small relaxing swim, we went to our room for shower. At 20h30, we went to have dinner at the hotel restaurant. The food, again, was delicious.
After dinner, as usual, it's time for a small walk in the premisses and go to sleep. Tomorrow, it will be our last day here and we have to enjoy it relaxing and preparing for the journey back!

See you tomorrow!

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