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Senegal - Eating and sleeping
Eating and drinking
Dakar offers a fantastic assortment of cuisines, from across the globe or across the continent. Italy, India, Argentina, Ethiopia, China, Korea, Morocco and Lebanon are all well-represented. Your second-best place for food is Saint-Louis, with an also-fashionable, albeit much smaller, restaurant scene. The Senegalese, like the French, take their food quite seriously, and standards of cuisine at smarter restaurants (where a meal will typically run you 3,500–8,000F) are reliably refined. Local canteens will dish up satisfying simpler meals for 1,500–3,000F.No matter where you go, local restaurants will be dishing up plates of Senegalese standards like thieboudienne, thiébou yapp, mafé, or yassa poulet/poisson, and for quicker eats, Middle Eastern kebabs, chawarma and fattayahs are relished by locals and visitors alike. Dibiterie remains a late-night favourite, and French-inspired staples like steak-frites and brochettes are everywhere too, but they’re typically found at places a few notches classier than the aforementioned dibi. Note that plat du jour indicates the daily special, while le menu or menu du jour will be a fixed-course meal, usually consisting of a starter, main course and dessert. Depending on where you are, looking for food outside of standard mealtimes can result in a seemingly interminable wait. Breakfast is usually taken from early- to mid-morning, lunch between noon and 15.00 at the very latest, and a late dinner from 20.00 to 23.00
In Mbour the catch of the day dictates the daily schedule © Sean Connolly
The usual varieties of soft drinks (Coke, Fanta and local brand La Gazelle) are cheaply available almost everywhere. Tap water is generally regarded as unsafe to drink, so most travellers understandably opt for bottled water. The sachet bags of water sold everywhere are purified and safe to drink, and at 50F for 500ml, way cheaper than their bottled cousins, also available everywhere and often referred to by the most common brand name, Kirène. Commercially bottled juices are also widely available, often under the brand name Pressea. Locally made fruit juices are delicious (if a bit sugary), and usually sold in reused bottles or frozen into baggie-size dice pops; either may contain water, so be aware or ask. Alcohol is widely available but, given that most Senegalese are observant Muslims, drinking isn’t a core element of Senegalese social life. Beer is brewed and bottled locally, while wines are imported from either Europe or South Africa, with a good selection available at larger supermarkets.
Accommodation in Senegal runs the gamut from five-star luxury lodging to thoroughly déclassé dives, and the prices reflect this. The highest-standard accommodation is found in Dakar and the Petite Côte, but international-standard hotels also exist in tourist centres like Saint-Louis, Cap Skirring and Toubacouta.
Elsewhere, most cities have well-tended mid-range accommodation geared towards travelling business people as well as tourists. A notch down from these mid-range places you start to lose perks like swimming pools and the like, but these local guesthouses will usually be the first port of call for budget travellers. Lodging in Senegal goes by a variety of names besides hôtel: campement, auberge, résidence and occasionally gîte. They’re all more or less interchangeable, though campements usually (though not always) lean towards the modest end of the spectrum, while a hôtel or résidence would tend to be higher-end. All accommodation, regardless of standard, charges a government-mandated 1,000F tourist tax per guest per night. This is often, but not always, itemised separately on your bill.