Known for its vibrant markets, diverse wildlife, relaxing beaches, and national parks, Senegal is a country in Africa that's a great option for gap years. The people of Senegal are warm and welcoming, and camaraderie is an important aspect of their society.

From cultural music festivals, stunning dive locations, and wonderful people, students will keep themselves busy if they choose to spend a unique gap year in Senegal.

Senegal is great for students interested in teaching English, medicine, community development, wildlife, and French language.

There are so many ways to make use of a gap year (however long that may be) in Senegal. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

Volunteer / Service Learning

If you'd like to make your gap year a little more meaningful, sign up for a volunteer project or service learning experience in Senegal. You can work in community development by interacting with locals, helping with repairs and construction, or assist with daily tasks.

Wildlife and nature conservation is a popular area to volunteer in as well. Senegal is home to over 300 different species of birds and 80 species of mammals, like lions, buffalo, hippos, and wild dogs. Volunteers often have the option to stay on-site or near a nature reserve. You'll get a closer look at the animals, lend a helping hand, and get a grittier educational perspective than a simple safari.

If you're a medical student, consider volunteering in healthcare. Students can work alongside local doctors and nurses in hospitals in major cities or in more rural areas while positively impacting local neighborhoods.

Teaching

You might consider assisting local schools by teaching basic English or skills like computer literacy to the community. Inexperienced teachers may want to start off by looking for teaching assistant programs or more general projects.

Language Immersion

French is the official language of Senegal, so taking language courses while in the country is the best and fastest way to learn this new language. Head to a language school or choose a program that offers language courses as part of the itinerary.

Popular Cities

Dakar is the capital of Senegal and is a vibrant, lively, and fast-paced city with night markets, good food, and friendly people. It’s an important trade and commerce point in Senegal. Students can visit museums, mosques, and memorials while in Dakar.

Saint-Louis is another popular destination in Senegal and is located near the river Senegal. It’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site and has an important colonial past. Take a look at the beautifully historical architecture while you're there.

Tambacounda is another popular city in Senegal. It’s ethnically diverse and is famous for its dance culture and history. This is a great place for those who are interested in music.

Joal Fadiouth is a city a bit more off the beaten path. It’s full of friendly locals, has an island composed of only shells, and beautiful, relaxing scenery. There is a large Christian and Muslim community here.

Housing

Gappers can look into participating in a homestay or living in their own apartment while in Senegal. If traveling with a program, housing is typically included. Some volunteer programs house participants in shared housing or dorms.

Costs

Senegal is affordable, though eating out can add up quickly. Typically, travelers can budget their trip on $20-30 a day. A meal at a restaurant is around $7 and water can cost around $.50. Local transportation is very affordable.

Visas

US citizens are granted a free 90-day visa for Senegal. If students plan on staying longer during their gap year, they can find out more by visiting the official government website for Senegal.

Packing Tips

November to February is Senegal’s dry season, where temperatures are ideal and there is minimal rain. June to September is filled with rainy and humid weather.

Packing loose fitting cotton clothing during the dry season is the best way to keep cool in the heat. Pack a rain jacket to prepare for any type of weather, sneakers, flip-flops, and clothing that can be layered. If staying for a year or between seasons, keep the changing weather conditions in mind when packing.

Health

There are no required vaccinations for Senegal. However, travelers should still be up to date on any routine vaccinations and should talk to their health care provider to determine what’s best for them, especially if traveling to multiple countries. Those traveling to a country where yellow fever is present may have to show proof of yellow fever vaccination before arriving in Senegal.

Remember to always stay hydrated, wear sunscreen, and wear bug spray when in Senegal.

Safety

Senegal is generally considered safe. However, travelers should still be wary when walking around alone and should never walk around alone at night. Terrorism is common in Western Africa, so travelers should take necessary safety precautions. Be wary of street crime and petty theft.

Fraud is another common crime in Senegal, so avoid using your credit card and ATMs when possible.

Contributed by Monica Gray

Gap Year Programs in Senegal

Displaying 1 - 3 of 3 programs
Global Citizen Year
Global Citizen Year - Gap Year Program Senegal
Senegal
17 reviews4 interviews

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Where There Be Dragons
West Africa: Rhythms of Senegal Gap Year Semester
Senegal
5 reviews1 interview

From agricultural villages to mangrove islands, explore contemporary...

A+ World Academy
Sail Around the World with A+ World Academy High School & Gap Year
Multiple Countries
6 reviews2 interviews

A+ World Academy has one of the most unique programs settings in the...

Gap Year Volunteering in Senegal

Volunteering is a great way to experience Senegal on your gap year
  • Projects Abroad
    Projects Abroad Volunteer Programs in Senegal
    Senegal
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    Senegal is a wonderful place to spend time volunteering abroad with...

  • MovingWorlds
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    When you volunteer your expertise across the world, you make yourself...

  • American Jewish World Service
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    The AJWS Volunteer Corps program in Senegal is designed to give Jewish...

  • Go Volunteer Africa
    Volunteer in Senegal - Go Volunteer Africa
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    Sometimes when people are looking to volunteer in Africa, they often...

  • Jane Goodall Institute Spain
    Chimpanzee Conservation Volunteer Program in Senegal
    Senegal

    The IJG is a global non-profit organization founded by Dr. Jane...

  • EQWIP HUBs
    EQWIP HUBs Opportunities for Young Professionals
    Multiple Countries

    Are you ready to be a global innovator? We’re looking for exceptional...

  • Canada World Youth
    EQWIP HUBs Volunteer Abroad
    Multiple Countries

    EQWIP HUBs are dynamic innovation spaces spanning 18 urban centers...

  • Crossroads International
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    Multiple Countries

    • Update or write procedural guides with the necessary tools for the...

  • Friends of Gueoul
    After School Tutoring and Summer Camp - Noos Club in Senegal
    Senegal

    Join “Noos” means “fun.” The Noos Club is an enhancement program for...

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