Saint-Louis (Ndar), Senegal, is the northernmost city in Senegal, two hundred fifty kilometers north of the capital Dakar, and a must-visit for international travelers. It's a living museum of French Colonial architecture and was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site at the turn of the twenty-first century.
For those traveling through West Africa, Saint-Louis is just a hundred kilometers from the Rosso border with Mauritania and a further two hundred kilometers to the Mauritanian capital of Nouakchott. This makes it an easy and convenient stopover on the route north or south.
As it sits on the banks of the Senegal River, Saint-Louis became an important trade and transport hub in the seventeenth century and was established by French traders. Saint-Louis was briefly the capital of the French West African colonies at the very end of the nineteenth century, but was replaced by Dakar a few years later. As Dakar became more and more important, Saint-Louis started to fall into disrepair, as can still be witnessed today in the state of some of the old Colonial houses. While restoration work is ongoing, it's a slow process.
Saint-Louis is also a center of arts and culture in Senegal. The annual jazz festival, held annually in May, is the most important in Africa. Saint-Louis is also handy for a number of natural sites. These include the National Park of the Langue de Barbarie, the Fauna Reserve of Guembeul, and the National Park of the Birds of Djoudj. Travelers will need their own transport to get to these, as they are not accessible by public transport, though you could hire a motorbike taxi.
Tourism is becoming more and more important for Saint-Louis and a lot of the old Colonial buildings have become upmarket hotels. There are a couple of hostels in Saint-Louis (Ndar), Senegal, that offer cheap dorm accommodation as well. The Saint-Louis (Ndar), Senegal hostels are conveniently located, not far from the historic center of the city, and are a great place to meet other travelers to team up with or get onward travel advice. The hostels in Saint-Louis (Ndar), Senegal, are also good places to meet other like-minded travelers and exchange travel tips and stories.
Saint-Louis is a very worthwhile stop for any traveler in Senegal. It has a very different atmosphere from the rest of the country and offers a unique insight into the colonial history of West Africa.
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