Pink Lake, Dakar, Senegal

Continuing on from my previous post, my multi-sector African trip took me on to Dakar, Senegal. Now I’ll be the first to admit I really didn’t have a clue about what to see or do in either Guinea or Senegal, but luckily we managed to squeeze some sightseeing into our short 24 hour layover.

The first evening after arriving was spent at a gorgeous sea-front restaurant, just a few minutes walk from our hotel.

Out at the front of the restaurant was a really interesting wall which was full of African murals, as well as some awesome sculptures. We had a quick look before heading in for dinner, and amazingly almost every single one of the crew made it!

Dakar, the capital of Senegal, is on the Cap-Vert Peninsula on the Atlantic Coast and during the 15th Century, the Portuguese established a presence and used it as a base for slave trade.

The restaurant we chose for dinner was called Le Ngor, and being so close to the ocean it served up all sorts of fresh seafood.

The next morning 4 of us were up bright and early ready to do some exploring. If we’d had more time (there is one trip that has a 48 hour layover in both Conakry and Dakar) I would have loved to have visited Goree Island, which is the Slave Island and is now used to show the horrors of the slave trade.

Since our wake-up call was just after midday, we didn’t have enough time to take the ferry there and back, so decided to head to Pink Lake instead.

Also known as Lake Retba, it is named for its pink waters caused by a certain type of algae, and has an extremely high salt content (very similar to the Dead Sea).

After a long drive through a lot of small villages with a lot of crazy traffic, we finally arrived at the lake. As you can already see from the picture above, everywhere you looked were piles and piles of salt – every year 24000 tonnes of salt is collected every year for West Africa alone!

The lake itself was not as pink as the pictures we’d seen online, however you can definitely see a pinkish tinge to the water.

The main source of income at the lake is the salt collection, which the men do for just 3 hours a day. In 1 litre of water there is approximately 380g of salt, which is collected onto small wooden boats and then sold.

Just like the Dead Sea, the water has such a high salt content that you float once you’re in! One of our brave crew, Adam, decided to go for a dip and surprised us all when he stood up – I think we were expecting the water to be a lot deeper!

One of the local guys collecting salt showed Adam how it was done, and I think he must have had some sort of weights attached to his boots that he was wearing in the water, as he didn’t float back up much. Saying that, they did lie down in the water for an obligatory picture!

After our little boar tour, the guide took us back to land, where Adam got hosed off, and we were tempted into buying souvenirs. All I usually bring from a new destination is a magnet, so I didn’t buy anything. I have no idea if the women selling these trinkets actually make money, as we saw just one other small group of tourists whilst at the lake.

Slowly we made our way back to the car after an interesting morning learning about the Pink Lake in Dakar, Senegal, and made the drive back to the hotel.

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