This small village on the shores of the Atlantic Ocean is located just 70km south of Dakar on the Petit Cote. Popenguine is a member of Global Ecovillage Network of Senegal (GENSEN). It is known for its natural reserve, pristine sandy beach, and religious significance. It is also the weekend getaway for the President of Senegal, as the second presidential residence is located between Popenguine and the village of Ndayane.
The Natural Reserve of Popenguine is located to the south and was created in 1986 thanks in large part to the local women's group, RFPPN. It is the first and only reserve managed by the Park Service in partnership with the local women’s group. The woman’s group had the foresight to ensure the protection of the natural habitat before it could be destroyed by the locals in their search for wood for cooking. Through their efforts, the women were able to protect 1500 ha (2493 acres) of the park in which a variety of plants, birds,and other animal species have been able to thrive. Due to their hard work, the Reserve is now the major draw for tourists.
Popenguine is also known for the sighting of the Black Madonna in the reserve. Due to this appearance, an annual pilgrimage to Popenguine takes place in which all the Christians in Senegal and nearby countries visit. The pilgrimage usually takes place around May/June for any tourists who are interested in witnessing this event.
Over the years, Popenguine has become a very cosmopolitan village. Popenguine is home to a famous Senegalese film director, a local artist (Gade Diouf - Artist's Website), a Ghanaian author, and Ex-patriots from a variety of countries. Due to the uniqueness of the village, it has come to have all the amenities of a big city while still maintaining the charm and peacefulness of a small village.
Popenguine has also been properly sensibilized, thus, it is one of the few tourist villages in which the tourists are not constantly harassed by the locals. You will rarely hear the locals asking you to give them money, water, or food. You will also rarely hear them call you "toubab" (white man). They will actually take the time to greet you and ask for your name. Senegal is the nation of Teranga (hospitality), and the citizens of Popenguine will ensure that tourist will leave believing it to be so.
The dominant ethnic group in this region is Sereer. The most prevalent languages heard in the village are Wolof, Sereer Safin, and French. There are a few locals who speak English as well.
The travel seasons in Popenguine and most of Senegal is between the drier months of November through May. This time of year is characterized relatively with little rainfall, low humidity and mild temperatures. Temperatures range in the mid to high seventies during this time. During this period, the migratory birds of Europe come to Senegal for nesting giving the tourist the perfect opportunity for bird observation. The months of June through October see increased rainfall rising temperatures peaking around August through October.
Traveling to Popenguine can be handled in many different ways. Please see below for the different modes of transportation the tourist can take to get to Popenguine.
Personal Taxi – Airport to Popenguine:
- Jean Baptiste Tine, +221 77 563 4272, CFA 25,000 (4 people max.)
- Birane Faye, +221 77 640 7109, CFA25,000 (4 people max.)
- Youssou, +221 503 4597, CFA25,000 (4 people max.)
Sept-place from Gare Routiere in Dakar to Sindia:
- Station wagon that transports up to 7 people, for tourists on a budget. You would take the sept-place that is headed towards Mbour, and tell the driver that you will be getting off at Sindia. You can buy out all the seats or just buy your seat and wait for the car to fill up. CFA 1,400/passenger, CFA500 max. for luggage.
Ndiaga Ndiaye from Gare Routiere in Dakar to Sindia:
- Big white Mercedes buses for those on a tight budget. You would take a Ndiaga Ndiaye that is headed towards Mbour, and tell the apprenti (the boy at the back of the bus) that you will be getting off at Sindia. CFA 500-700/person.
Bush taxi from Sindia to Popenguine:
- Once at Sindia, you take a taxi brousse (bush taxi) into Popenguine. There are 2 types of taxis. A small one in which the max. # of people is 6, and a big truck in which the # of people in the car varies from 16- 22 people. Like the sept-place, you can buy up the entire taxi or just pay for your own seat and wait for the car to fill up with other passengers. If you decide to rent out the entire taxi, then the driver will take you directly to your destination. If you don’t, then the driver will drop you off at the center of the village. Small taxi: CFA300/passenger. Large taxi: CFA200/passenger
Within Popenguine: Popenguine is a pretty small village, so one can get around the village by walking or renting out a horse or donkey drawn cart.
Travel between villages around Popenguine: One can get from one village to another by taking a bush taxi, a horse-drawn cart, or a pirogue (boat). One can also be adventurous and hike their way to other villages.
Popenguine is a centrally located village which can meet any tourists demand. For beach and ocean enthusiasts, there is a pristine, sandy beach just by your doorstep where you can spend your day. You can also rent out a pirogue (boat) from Popenguine and visit the other coastal villages and towns. For the nature enthusiasts, there are 2 national parks, a private park, and a classified forest within a 10km radius of Popenguine. For the cultural tourists, there is a chance to visit traditional Seerer villages and partake in their traditional pas-times; such as, making and drinking Senegalese tea and other activities. The tourists can also learn about the significance of a Catholic presence in a traditionally Muslim village. Below is a detailed list of activities that tourists can partake in:
- Natural Reserve of Popenguine. The first and only park in country managed by the National Park Service in partnership with the local women’s group, RFPPN. Hike through the 1500 ha (2493 acre) park. While you enjoy the beautiful wildlife on your hike, you will visit the park’s major landmarks such as; the Cap de Naz, the lagoon for bird observation, WWII bunkers, and the site at which the Black Madonna is believed to have appeared.
- Community Reserve of Somone. Hike around the natural lagoon of Somone or take a pirogue (boat) ride through the lagoon and enjoy the beautiful mangrove fields and bird wildlife.
- Reserve of Bandia, ☏ . Take a 4x4 car tour around the park and enjoy the bird wildlife and large mammal wildlife such as; giraffes, deer, impalas, monkeys, crocodiles and etc. with knowledgeable guides. Fees are charged and transportation is required.
- The classified forest of Accro- Baobab, ☏ , , . Participate in activities such as, zip-lining between baobab trees, climbing baobab trees, traversing between baobab trees on rope bridges, and etc. Fees are charged and transportation is required.
- Popenguine Church. Ask the Church volunteers for a mini-tour of the historic church.
- Learn how to play West African instruments such as Balafon, Gembeh (African drum), Tama (African drum) African Guitar. Also learn the West African dance. Contact: Hubert and ask for Sanusie Abdulaye. +221 77 525 1983. The price and duration of course is negotiable.
- Learn about the history and activities of the local women’s group who ensured the protection of the natural reserve of Popenguine. Visit the Ker Cupaam Campement to hear the story from the women themselves. For further information on park entrance fees, guide fees to all parks, and other activities within the parks, go to the community owned campement, Ker Cupaam, located by the entrance of the Natural Reserve of Popenguine or email/call the Eco Guides:
- Ousmane Badji: +221 77 782 4735, Email: email@example.com
- Ndeye Ndella Ndiaye: +221 77 264 8964
- Pirogue ride, ☏ (Moussa Sene). Take a pirogue ride in the ocean all the way from Mbour to Toubab Dialaw. For fishing enthusiasts, Moussa can take you out to the hotspots out in the ocean. Your guide will provide all fishing materials, so all you have to do is just be properly dressed to be out in the ocean. Pirogue ride: CFA30,000 (max. 10 people, 2-4 hour tour); pirogue ride and fishing: CFA40,000 (max. 7 people, 2-4 hour tour).
One can buy souvenirs from the artisanal shops located in the village, from the artisanal stands located in or around the lodges, or from women on the beach. The types of artisanal goods a tourist would find in Popenguine are hand-made bead necklaces, baskets (long grass fiber woven with strips of palm fronds), Senegalese clothing, wooden crafts. Bargaining is acceptable in this culture.
- Tourist's Choice -- Complexe Doorwaar. Managed by Hubert +221 77 525 1983. This charming artisanal shop is located just across from the Balafon Cafe. The majority of tourists purchase their products from here because of the professionalism, friendliness, and hassle-free service they receive from Hubert. You can bargain with him, but the majority of the time he provides the tourist with a reasonable price. He is also a great point of reference to get more information about the village. Types of products and services provided:
- Tailoring - He can make anything as long as you can explain or draw out your design for him
- Wooden crafts
- Products made from recycled products
- Rent homes by the beach for a few days
- Horse and buggy ride across the village
Popenguine has many different types of restaurants to meet the needs of any type of tourists. One can find a wide variety of foreign dishes such as French and Italian as well as local Senegalese dishes; such as yassa poulet (chicken over rice covered in a tasty onion sauce), and ceeb u jen (rice and fish). Ceeb u jen is the national plate of Senegal. The best restaurant to order Ceeb u jen is at Ker Cupaam, otherwise the ceeb shacks in the village are the next best option. As Popenguine is right by the ocean, you can be sure that seafood will be prevalent in the menu, and it would be a wise choice to select it. For the vegetarians, the restaurants under the "Splurge" section offer vegetarian plates. As for the other restaurants, they do not have vegetarian plates offered on their menu, but they are very hospitable and will make a vegetarian plate for you if you demand it.
- Chez Bineta
- Ceeb u Jenn Shacks
There are many cheap rice and fish shacks found around the village. It's a great way to try out the local dishes without having to splurge. A plate usually costs about CFA500.
- Ker Cupaam, ☏ . Restaurant. Contact: Kaaty
- Balafon Café, ☏ . Restaurant/Bar. Contact: Malik
- Chez Fatou, ☏ . Restaurant. Contact: Fatou
- Campement Ebène, ☏ , . Restaurant/Bar. Contact: Sokhna or Mbaye
- Chez Ginette, ☏ . Restaurant/Bar. Contact: Ginette
- L’Echo Cotier, ☏ , , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Restaurant/Bar. Contact: Sylvaine et Arnold Calmel
- Keur de Sable, ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. Restaurant/Bar. Contact: Christian
Tourists have a wide variety of choice in their lodging in Popenguine. Tourists have a choice between a community owned lodge, 3 privately owned lodges, or a hotel. As the tourists has many choices of lodging, it is relatively easy to find lodging. Just to be sure though, it would be wise to book your stay at least 2-3 weeks in advance. The only time that you would need to book your stay at least 2 months in advance is if you are planning on coming to Popenguine during the annual Christian pilgrimage (Pentecote) which is held in late May.
The list below has been sorted first by village, and then by the way each lodge promotes ecotourism. Ecotourism is travel to fragile, pristine, and usually protected areas that strives to be low impact and (often) small scale. It helps educate the traveler; provides funds for conservation; directly benefits the economic development and political empowerment of local communities; and fosters respect for different cultures and for human rights.
- [dead link] Ker Cupaam – Lodge, Ker Cupaam B.P. 10, ☏ , , fax: , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Community-owned Campement, managed by local woman’s group, RFPPN. Profits are invested in community projects such as; health, education, reforestation, gardening, microfinance bank, etc. There are 5 cabins (each with 2 twin beds and a bathroom) – each cabin holds up to 2 guests. There is also a dormitory – 4 rooms which holds up to 6 guests per room. Continental breakfast included. Each room has mosquito nets, fan, western toilet, shower (there is no hot water, but if you can ask the Manager to heat up some water for you), and running water. Customers also have access to Internet as a WiFi modem has been installed in the lodge. Price per night: CFA12,000 (cabin), CFA6,000 (dormitory).
- Balafon - Lodge, ☏ . Owned and managed by Malik, a Senegalese. Offers 1 cabin (1 queen size bed, a small futon/bed, and communal bathroom) - the cabin can hold up to 3 people (price per night per person: CFA5,000), 1 cabin (1 queen size bed and communal bathroom) - the cabin can hold up to 2 people (price per night per person: CFA5,000). Each room has mosquito nets and a fan. The communal bathroom has a western toilet, shower (no hot water but you can ask for it from the manager), and running water. 2 houses by the beach (2 bedrooms, 1 bathroom, terrace, and kitchen) – each house can hold up to 4 people (price per night: CFA25,000), 1 house by the beach (3 bedrooms, 2 bathroom, and kitchen) - this house can hold up to 6 people (price per night: CFA30,000).
- Ebene – Lodge, ☏ , , ✉ email@example.com. Owned and managed by Sokhna, a French ex-pat. 2 cabins (2 rooms with 2 twin beds each, a small futon/bed in living room area, a bathroom) - price per night per cabin: CFA32,000. 2 cabins (1 room with 2 twin beds, a small futon/bed in living room area, a bathroom) - price per night per cabin: CFA16,000. Continental breakfast included. Each room has mosquito nets, fan, western toilet, shower, and running water.
- Keur de Sable – Lodge (Popenguine), ☏ . Owned and managed by a French ex-pat., Christian. 3 rooms (2 twin beds each, communal bathroom) – each room holds up to 2 guests- CFA7,500 per night per room. Dormitory – holds up to 24 people - CFA5,000 per night per guest. 10 houses by the beach (2 bedroom, 1 bathroom, terrace, and kitchen) – each house can hold between 4 to 6 guests (negotiable) - CFA25,000 per night
- [dead link] Metisse – Hotel (Popenguine), Place de l’independence, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Managed by Pierrot
- Houses for rent:
- Omar Thiao +221 77 554 7126
- Djiby Thio +221 77 657 84 06
- Babacar Diouf +221 77 647 1906
- Papis +221 77 653 5156
- Cupam Immobilier +221 33 954 9321/ +221 77 923 1360, email@example.com
- Les Mangiers de Guereo. Lodge, restaurant, bar (Guereo). Owned and managed by Eric. 15 cabins (queen size bed, 2 twin beds, bathroom, living room, air conditioning, hot water) – each cabin can hold up to 4 guests.
- La Pierre de Lisse La Pierre de Lisse, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Lodge, restaurant, bar (Ndayane). Owned and managed by Baba Mbengue. 5 family rooms (queen size beds, 2 twin beds, bathroom, living room, air conditioning, hot water) - each cabin can hold up to 4 people. 25 double rooms (queen size bed, bathroom, living room, air conditioning, hot water) - each cabin can hold up to 2 people.
- Terre D'Afrique, ☏ , , ✉ email@example.com.
Popenguine is a relatively safe and secure place because it's a pretty small village in which everyone knows each other. However, crime against tourists in towns such as Mbour, and Saly is common. Use common sense everywhere in Senegal: keep a close eye on your belongings, watch your pockets in crowded places, women should not walk around alone after dark, try not to wear any outwardly expensive items of clothing or jewelry. There are many different scams to get money from tourists, so be wary. Overall, though, the Senegalese are an incredibly friendly and hospitable people and you will meet many people who are genuinely interested in just talking to you and making sure you are having an enjoyable time in Senegal.
In case of emergency, there is a police station and a hospital located in Popenguine.
The Senegalese are a very friendly and hospitable group of people. In order to continue receiving their hospital, please follow the actions listed below.
- Always greet and ask how their day is going (and if you would like to learn basic Wolof greetings, please visit the PC Wiki page; the link is on the bottom of this page)
- Never use your left hand to shake hands or give something to someone. By doing so, you would be showing a lack of respect towards the locals.
- Never tell a Senegalese that he/she is lying even if they are
- Always ask for permission before taking pictures of the locals
As a tourist, you will be asked by many people to give out money, and even if you want to, Please do not give out money! By giving the locals money, you would be making the locals dependent on foreign aid instead of them working for themselves for their own livelihood. The reason the locals in Senegal always ask tourists for money is because the tourists had done so in the past. In order to break the cycle, tourists should stop giving out money.
If you really want to donate something to the community, please go to the local schools and give school supplies to the principal who will then distribute the supplies appropriately.
Day trip options include Saly, Toubab Dialaw, or Mbour which have plenty of activities for tourists:
- Saly is a large beach resort town about 15 km south of Popenguine. There the tourist can find many water, beach, and land activities to keep them entertained.
- Toubab Dialaw is a coastal village 7 km north of Popenguine. It has a beautiful beach and lagoon to keep the beach and nature enthusiast happy
- Mbour is a large coastal town about 20 km south of Popenguine. Mbour has a large traditional market in which the tourists can purchase anything from food to cloth. Mbour also has an artisanal village in which the tourists can purchase his/her souvenirs. (Bargaining is a must here. As a good rule of thumb, don't pay more than 1/2 of the initial price given to you by the vendor.)