What to Do in Île de Gorée Island in a Day?
When traveling to Senegal, Île de Gorée (Gorée Island) is a must see. It lies only about 3 kilometers from Senegalese coast, just next to Dakar. Between 18th and 19th century it had been very important slave-trading center in Africa, since the island is the nearest point to the both Americas.
Because of the slave-trading, in the past it was very negatively connotated, but nowadays for many a person this tiny island can mean a perfect escape from crowded capital. Île de Gorée has so many things to offer, starting with all kind of Senegalese arts. Therefore, if in the past the island was named slave island, today it could be legitimately called artistic island.
The island was ruled by Portugese, Dutch, English and French so each of them left a bit of their architecture.
Visit House of Slaves (Maison des Esclaves)
This house was last station for slaves, where they were held and afterwards brought over the Atlantic sea. Door of No Return shows the horrendous fate of African slaves.
The accurate number of those taken away is unknown, but some sources name that quite less people were actually shipped from there. In 1962 this building was opened as a memorial site and museum of Atlantic Slave Trade. You can discover the museum either on your own either take part of the guidance through the museum.
Visit Sand-painting Workshops on Île de Gorée
Have a look at one of those workshops, full of marvellous works of art. Artists will give you a demonstration of making a painting – you will be indeed amazed. They use different sand types from all around Senegal or wider, and they combine different sand colours in different motives.
This is a great opportunity for you to buy a typical Senegalese souvenir, which could be at the same time a nice decoration for your apartment. Do not be afraid of haggling!
Climb to Castle of Île de Gorée
Climb to the top of the castle of Île de Gorée for a great view of the island and the sea around. Also, you can again enjoy the works of art, usually exhibited on the streets.
More Information for Visitors of Gorée Island
- From wharf in Dakar to the island and vice versa, there is a small ferry running every 30 minutes. It costs CFA6000, 20 minutes ride.
- When getting off the ferry, you will be harassed by local »guides«, who will insist to guide you around the island. Be aware of asking you for some payment at the end of the sightseeing. Anyway, the island is easily explored independently.
- You will have to pay a small tourist tax (CFA600) in booth at the verge of the island.
- There is also a small entrance fee (CFA600) for visiting House of Slaves.
- House of Slaves is closed between noon and 2.30 pm.
- You can spend the night on the island, but accommodation there is much more expensive than in Dakar.