“African tradition collides with European modernity in Dakar – colourful, proud, irritating.

You travel to Senegal either as a tourist to splash in the Atlantic or as a business traveller to the capital Dakar. And that’s a shock at first: French savoir-vivre meets with a historically creepy place from the time of the slave trade. Magnet meets Moloch – lively, morbid, chaotic, all at once.
The contrasting mix is mainly due to Dakar’s eventful past as a colony. The city was regarded as the starting point of the slave trade in the direction of America. Thousands of Portuguese, Dutch, English and Frenchmen shipped the slaves across the Atlantic from the small offshore island of Goreé. Today, you only become a “prisoner” as a visitor – of hundreds of merchants on the island, who offer everything from naive murals to glass jewellery, which you usually take home as local colour for souvenirs.

Business Transport

Today, Dakar is regarded as the pulsating heart of Senegal – and is above all known for the rally of the same name, which for safety reasons has not taken place here since 2008 and will celebrate its premiere in Saudi Arabia in 2020. When I arrive at Dakar airport, I can already see countless black-and-yellow painted taxis, where passionate action is just as much in demand as on the markets. A taxi ride into the city should not cost more than 30 euros. If a taxi driver doesn’t want to take you, just wave to the next one. Or look for one of the hotel limousine services if you are a guest in one of the big hotels.

Business Stay

Basically, one should play it safe at a hotel in a city like Dakar, rather than try an “insider tip”. The best place at the Corniche at Cap Vert is the Radisson Blu Dakar, Sea Plaza. With its view over the very rough beach, the huge pool complex, the restaurant and the attached shopping centre, the hotel is a little paradise, not far from the crowded centre. The well-kept pool bar is the meeting point of the rich and beautiful of Dakar at the weekend. Here, proud Senegalese beauties walk along the pool and dance to the sounds of the local DJ. Breakfast is served on the terrace overlooking the sea and palm trees – très bien!

Business Food

Those who make it to the upper part of the city should stop at “L’Amiraute”. This small, fine restaurant offers freshly caught fish from the ocean, cool white wine from France, a great view to the island and the sea – and surprises you with a very low bill.

Bleisure Trip

From Dakar there is a two-hour direct flight to Las Palmas on the island of Gran Canaria – and thus Spanish sun, beaches, mountains and lively city culture “in the middle” of Europe. Las Palmas is one of the economic and cultural centres of the Canary Islands, along with Santa Cruz de Tenerife, with its almost 500,000 inhabitants, port, numerous companies and university. Whether jogging on the beach of Las Canteras, sightseeing through the old town of Vegueta or trekking on the Roque Nublo – far away from the infamous package tourism, Las Palmas and its surroundings are the perfect spot to find an absolute break from everyday life. The gastro food culture is lively and varied – whether in the Basal Grill & Beach directly at Las Canteras or in the Peruvian restaurant El Segundo Muelle near the Parque Doramas. In any case, Dakar can be quickly far away.

Kai Böcking …

is not such a fan of Dakar at this moment. But undoubtedly the city and its momentum is an experience. It is the living Africa and yet again not typical. A real positive surprise for him was Las Palmas on Gran Canaria. The island capital is magical, also because many do not have it on their radar as much as the overcrowded south.

Fotos: © iStock.com/Salvador-Aznar, © iStock.com/giuliano2022, Konzack