We've driven north to Senegal, taking the ferry from The Gambia. Saly (or Saly Portudal) is billed as the premiere tourist destination 'in all of West Africa'. Saly was originally a Portuguese trading post known as Porto de Ale. The resort area was created in February 1984 and tourism began to take off in Senegal.
The hotel is attractive, with thatched bungalow style rooms. hey have windows like huge round eyes. There’s a stout woven fence between the sunbed area in the grounds of Le Saly Hotel and the beach and swimming pool. It very soon becomes apparent why this is necessary. Morning and evening the beach is alive with local men exercising, body building and playing football. I’ve read that wrestling is the most popular sport in Senegal and has become a national obsession. It seems to me that the whole population aspires to a wrestler’s physique. There is a great deal of posturing, and much sweating. It’s hot and humid, even at breakfast.
As the gymnasium disperses the middle of the day is given over to touts selling their wares. They’re naturally more interested in interacting with the tourists, rather than just posing. The whole is a colourful spectacle, (the costumes are flamboyant and wonderful) though increasingly exhausting, as the noise never ceases. It’s also a huge deterrent from walking on the beach, although once past the throng it’s interesting to watch the sailfish, marlin and tuna being unloaded from the gaudy fishing boats. Like the Gambia, the sands are broad, but brown, and the sea a murky grey. It’s not the prettiest of beaches. but rather, grand and palm lined.
The area now abounds with tourist attractions. wild life parks like Bandia, a golf course and a craft market. To the east, at Saly Niakhniakhal, the seafront is lined with restaurants and villas. There's even an art gallery.
The road north to Dakar, the capital of Senegal, is slow and winding and the traffic round Dakar itself appalling. We almost miss our plane home. No wonder they cancelled the rally….
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