Dakar Travel Information
Local time is GMT.
Electrical current is 220 volts, 50Hz. Round two-pin attachment plugs are in use.
The official language is French, but there are six other national languages spoken, including Wolof, which is the most widely used, as well as numerous other dialects.
Stomach troubles are the most common health concerns for travellers in Senegal. Visitors should watch what they eat and drink: do not drink untreated tap water. Protection against mosquito bites is essential as malaria, dengue fever and chikungunya fever occur; malaria is prevalent throughout the country and prophylaxis is recommended for all travellers. A yellow fever vaccination is a requirement for entry to Senegal if coming from an infected area, but all travellers should be vaccinated against yellow fever as a precaution; other recommended vaccinations include hepatitis A, polio, tetanus and typhoid. Outbreaks of meningococcal infections occur and vaccination is recommended for travel during the dry season (November to May). Outbreaks of cholera also occur. There is a risk of bilharzia, and visitors should avoid contact with stagnant, fresh water.
Medical facilities are good in Dakar, but are limited in the rest of the country. Travellers should ensure they have comprehensive health insurance.
Larger hotels and restaurants usually include a service charge of 10 to 15 percent. Taxi drivers are not usually tipped.
Most visits to Senegal are trouble-free, but street crime and pick-pocketing, especially in Dakar, are common. Visitors are advised to conceal valuables from the public eye. Travel by road in the Casamance region west of Kolda is unsafe due to the activities of separatist rebel groups and bandits, and should be avoided.
The majority of the population is Muslim and it is generally a conservative society where dress and behaviour should be modest, especially outside the main tourist areas. Public displays of affection between men and women should be avoided, and acts of homosexuality are illegal. Drunkenness is offensive. Religious customs should be respected, particularly during the holy month of Ramadan when eating, drinking and smoking are prohibited by the Muslim faith; visitors should avoid eating and drinking in public during this time.
In Senegal, it is expected of the visitor to dress formally. Greetings are very important in Senegal and the visitor must ensure that every member at the meeting is greeted and acknowledged at least once. The shaking of hands is the standard greeting for men and women in business. It is a good idea to be punctual even if the host is not. Meetings can often take longer than anticipated and patience may prove a virtue. Business is usually conducted in French and a translator may be needed, although many Senegalese businessmen will know some English. It is important to find out beforehand how the contacts are to be addressed. Business hours are generally 8am to 5pm Monday to Friday with an hour taken over lunch.
The international dialling code for Senegal is +221. The outgoing code is 00 followed by the relevant country code (e.g. 0027 for South Africa). No city/area codes are required. Senegal's telephone system is one of the most developed in Africa, and there are numerous telephone centres for making both local and international calls. Mobile phone operators provide GSM 900 cell phone coverage. Cybercafes offer Internet connections in the main cities.
Travellers to Senegal over 18 years do not have to pay duty on 200 cigarettes or 50 cigars or 250g tobacco or tobacco products; perfume for personal use; gifts to the value of CFA 5,000. The import of spirits is not duty-free, but travellers are able to import one bottle of wine.
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