Greetings fellow travelers!
We instructors have been excitedly discussing our upcoming adventure and carefully crafting both our journey through the landscape and our journey within. We are pleased to be able to reveal our tentative itinerary (below) and give you a little flavor of what each of these unique places has to offer.
However before we dive into that – here’s something that is crucial to bear in mind. Dragons has the philosophy of flexible itinerary for all of our programs. This helps to keep our programs authentic and immersive. It also means that we can tailor the program to the needs of our specific student group (you all!), to respond to challenges and take advantage of opportunities as they come up, and of course be responsive the local communities that are gracious enough to host us. Moreover, as you will soon learn, travel in Senegal is not an exact science and we’ll all soon become Senegal travel experts and be able to adjust into the flexible schedules of Senegalese life.
However, just an added note that in these covid times the importance of the flexible itinerary is heightened. Senegal has been fortunate to escape the brunt of the pandemic, and it is currently reporting some of the lowest rates in the world. Our role as guests is to do everything in our power to keep it that way, including wearing masks at appropriate times and getting tested before going into vulnerable communities. It is possible that covid considerations may change our itinerary at the last moment. Rest assured that as soon as we make any changes to the plan that is posted here, we will write an update on this Yak board.
Stay tuned for more announcements from us including a pre-course task that we would like everyone to complete before departing. And please first take a few moments to introduce yourself on this Yak board so we can start to get to know who will be accompanying us on this incredible journey!
Jamm ak jamm,
Peace (to you) and peace (to us),
Your Instructor Team – Samba, Babacar and Claire
Without further ado, a tentative itinerary for our Senegal Summer Course!
July 1 and 2: Travel to Senegal
You will depart for your adventure on July 1st – further details on group travel logistics to follow! Our flight arrives at the Blaise Diagne International Airport on July 2nd in the morning, and your instructor team will there there to welcome you in the morning! We will post a Yak here once the group has arrived so ensure your family and friends are following along here for updates. We will then travel to our orientation location of Thies, just 45 minutes north of the airport.
July 2-July 4: orientation in Thies
We will spend 3 full days and nights in Thies to get our first introduction to Senegal. We will take this time to rest and get our bearings, learn foundational cultural practices, and discuss key health and safety tips. We will get to know one another, craft a shared mission, start basic language classes, and get ready for the journey ahead!
July 5-10: Trekking in the Region of Kedougou
After our stay in Thies, we’ll bid adieu to our close friends and travel south to Kedougou. Along the Guinean and Malian border, Kedougou can seem worlds away from Thies. It is lush and mountainous, compared to the grassy plains around Thies. After our full travel day, we’ll spend the following day in town where we’ll explore the market and prepare for our week of trekking!
On this multi-day trek, we’ll have an opportunity to trek to waterfalls, spot baboons through the dense forest, and explore historic caverns. We’ll also learn about development efforts in the area with a visit to the Jane Goodall Research Institute. During the trek, we will be carrying our packs and trekking village to village. We will have an opportunity to stay in local campemens in remote villages, supporting local tourism efforts. On trail, we will prepare our own sandwiches with the local tapalapa bread and and also sample the local cuisine.
July 11–16: Rural Homestay in Temento Samba
We will travel from Kedougou to Kolda, wedged between The Gambia and Guinea Bissau. We are lucky enough to be staying in Samba’s home village for a rural homestay experience! Temento Samba is a beautiful village surrounded by lush forests, local agriculture (and beehives for divine local honey!), and dirt trails perfect for a short stroll on the way to neighboring villages. Home to subsistence farmers, we will experience first-hand an important way of life in Senegal where the routine is marked by rooster crows, children’s laughter on the way to school and family time around the fire at night. In Temento Samba, we will develop friendships across language and cultural differences as we settle into daily life. We will have additional time to explore ISPs, meet with community members and learn from their experience, delve into themes of development, economy, agriculture and climate change, drumming and dance, and migration and cross-border issues between Guinea-Bissau and Senegal.
July 17–21: Urban Homestays in Dakar, and Dene
The group will then head to Dakar, the bustling capital of Senegal. It is the seat of many organizations and associations – public, private, and nonprofit – that we can visit and learn about. We will explore the local markets so that we can see, bargain for and probably buy beautiful and colorful fabric. We may also have the chance to visit landmarks like the island of Gorée, historically important for its role in the transatlantic slave trade.
Students will be placed with homestay families and offered the unique opportunity to celebrate with them one of the biggest festivals in Senegal – Eïd al-Adha/Eïd el-Kebir, locally known as Tabaski.
After Tabaski, we will head to Dene, a beautiful qu’ranic community situated on the Atlantic coast just north of Dakar and Thies. We will have the opportunity to meet with the Imam and leader of the community, learn about Islam and the community of Dene’s Sufi beliefs, and discuss about the importance of religion and spirituality in Senegal.
July 22-24: Expedition Phase
In this phase, you, the students, take ownership over the structure and content of our days. What are we going to eat? Where are we going to sleep? What are we going to do? Maybe we’ll find ourselves climbing to the top of sand dunes or possibly getting lost in a local kasbah. You are presented with options, a budget, and specific tasks to accomplish. The success of this phase lies with you and your fellow students!
July 25-27: Transference in Toubab Dialaw
Our final few days in country will be devoted to reflection as we reflect back in time, project forward in time, and land in the present. Where have we been? Where will we go from here? What have the past 4 weeks meant? In this idyllic location on the petite cote, where the sand is soft but the rocks are rough and the breeze is cool but the sun is warm, we will find balance.