6 Most charming villages in Senegal
Up in the mountains, in the oriental part of Senegal, we find this unique group of villages where the Bassari ethnic group lives. It is not only the wild nature and their beautiful rural houses what makes this among our favourite spots, but also the sociocultural side. Bassari people have a very specific and elaborated way to structure their society, with a strong cast system organising the communities by age. They will happily show you their villages, and you will be also welcome to participate in some parts of the traditional celebrations that take place during the month of May, when the male children go through the initiation rituals and the people and the village gets full of colours, dances, mill beer, fights and food.
Not far from Ethiolo we can go to Iwol, the village of the Bédiks, an ethnic group living very isolated from the rest of the communities. On the top of a 30 min. climb mountain you will find this place very special and interesting. Massive trees, animist traditions and real eco-houses made of clay, this place makes you feel more than ever in touch with the ground, with the nature. You won’t believe the beauty of the people, the hair styles and the body decorations.
Two steps away from the village huge rocks rise to climb even higher. Be brave and take a look, the views are astonishing.
By the sea in the department of Oussouye, Casamance, you can discover this small Diola paradise. Starting by the huge fromager in the middle of the village, you can walk through the place finding great fairy-tale spots where people, sitting on the massive roots of the trees, gather to chat, play games or drink some palm wine. You will always be welcome to join them. Head to the sea and find its immense and gorgeous beach bathed by the ocean… breathe… you are in heaven.
Try to count the number of different trees you can find on the way to Seleky, you will get tired! This village is right of the nature but still with fairly easy access. Located in Casamance, you will only find friendly people. It is the perfect place to get away from the city and find out about relaxing and also traditional dances and animism.
Take the road down to Sine-Saloum to experience this magic place. Located 10 min walking from the village of Simal, there is an eco-lodge made with straw and clay in the middle of the nature, a kind of nature that would inspire the best tale about gnomes and fairies. Enjoy the amazing sunset over the water, the jumping goats in the morning and the singing of the many birds that will substitute your phone alarm clock. Be careful, you might not want to leave.
6. Mar Lodj
You need to take one of those beautifully decorated Senegalese boats to get to this island in the Sine-Saloum. A very nice part of Mar Lodj is the village square, where all the activity happens. Also, and not far from there, the magic takes place: 3 different trees have grown interwoven and are now a representation for the village of the peaceful cohabitation of the 3 practised religions: Islam, Christianism and Animism. But my favourite experience there was going to the village baker’s house at 4am, to learn the traditional way to make bread in the clay oven. The sky was completely dark and the satellites made it look like the biggest shooting star show I had ever imagined. If that was not enough, Babacar, the baker, offered us the first freshly made tapalapa, (local bread), so hot that I could barely hold it, so delicious I barely had to.