• Senegal
2 - 12 weeks
Need-based funding, General grants/scholarships, 529 Plan eligibility, BIPOC funding
Health & Safety

Program Details

Program Type
Host Family Hotel Tent
Age Min.
Age Max


Starting Price
Price Details
The land cost for Senegal: In the Shade of the Baobab Tree is $7,550 for 4 weeks. Financial aid is available.
What's Included
Accommodation Activities Meals Transportation
What's Not Included
Airfare Travel Insurance Visa
Sep 27, 2023
Aug 30, 2023
5 travelers are looking at this program

About Program

Discover true generosity; live with a Senegalese family, learn a new craft, drum and dance, find yourself immersed in a new worldview.

You never know what new beauty might emerge in Senegal. Enter a fortuneteller’s hut and ask a question about your future. Spin and dance with Sufi mystics. Discover fluent Spanish speakers on a mangrove island. Speak with a young man preparing to cross the Strait of Gibraltar to find work in Spain. This country is a collision of influences: French, Islamic, African, and increasingly, American and Chinese. Renowned for its hospitality and tolerance, Senegal makes room for all. We delve into pressing modern social issues while immersing ourselves in deep culture. As we sink into the rhythm of Senegalese life, we see that this place has much to teach us about community, global issues, and our own humanity.

Video and Photos

Diversity & Inclusion

BIPOC Support

Unfortunately, discrimination based on race, ethnicity, national origin, and skin tone exists in different forms all over the world. In some destinations, especially rural or ethnically homogenous areas, people may not have had much exposure to racial diversity. As such, people with certain physical characteristics may experience unwanted attention. Most commonly, this might include staring, insensitive comments, people taking your photo (with or without asking), or attempts to touch your skin or hair. Black students traveling in parts of Asia, Latin America, the Middle East, and North Africa have often reported higher levels of unwanted attention than their peers. White students traveling in parts of Asia and Africa have also reported receiving unwanted attention. Students are encouraged to communicate with staff if they feel their personal boundaries are being violated or if they feel unsafe or uncomfortable in any situation. We encourage you to believe your peers if/when they share experiences like this with you.

LGBTQIA+ Support

Social, cultural, religious, political, and legal attitudes toward the LGBTQ+ community vary around the world. According to the Global Acceptance Index, average levels of acceptance for LGBTQ+ people around the world have been increasing since 1981. However, many countries where Dragons operates programs may have social discrimination or even laws against being LGBTQ+. We have safely supported LGBTQ+ students in all of our program areas, and provide specific cultural and geographic advice to help students stay safe on course.

In some cases, students may be advised not to speak about their sexual orientations and/or gender identities with local contacts (such as homestay families, ISP mentors, language teachers, and guest speakers) due to safety concerns. Likewise, transgender and non-binary students may have to choose to present outwardly as male or female in certain contexts during the program. In other cases, “coming out” to some or all host community members may be a safe choice.

Neurodivergent Support

For students with neuro-differences (such as dyslexia, ADHD, ASD, TS, and dyspraxia), it is important to be aware that neurodiversity is likely viewed differently abroad than at home. People might not be familiar with labels or terms that are very common where you come from. If you struggle with lots of external stimuli, you should be prepared that you will be in some environments that are louder and busier than what you are used to.

Accessibility Support

If you are a student with a physical disability, you might encounter challenges around accessibility than you have at home. Many of the places we travel at Dragons don’t have building codes or other regulations in place to support people with visual, hearing, or mobility impairments. You may need accommodations or support that you don’t usually require in your life at home.



Dragons defines responsible travel as travel that is culturally conscious, environmentally responsible, and focused on developing meaningful connections and mutual respect in the communities to which we travel. Over the course of Dragons 25+ year history, we have cultivated long-standing relationships with respected community leaders, academics, social entrepreneurs and professionals involved in environmental and cultural preservation. In the more than 20 countries in which Dragons has operated, we have steadfastly adhered to minimum impact travel, an accurate and informed understanding of place, and the realization of maximum benefit for the communities we visit.

Ethical Impact

Dragons believes that we need to shift the way we think of volunteer travel. Instead of focusing on “service work”—on the idea that short-term volunteers can contribute to communities abroad—we advocate a paradigm shift: we choose, instead, to focus on “learning service.”

Learning Service is a holistic experience that combines an intimate and authentic engagement with the local community, the study of effective development, and the contribution to an established community-driven project. It is the process of living, working alongside, and humbly absorbing the culture of those being served while coordinating closely with project managers to understand the trajectory of the project, from inception to completion and beyond. It is an acknowledgment that often it is the volunteer who stands to gain as much or more from the work. And it is a commitment to making contributions that create positive impacts in the communities coupled with the humility to always listen and learn first.

Program Highlights

  • Discover Senegal's rich artistic heritage, explore Sufi mysticism, and learn more about 'teranga,' Senegal's culture of giving.
  • Engage with gender issues and children’s rights, immigration and unemployment, desertification and climate change, public health and education.
  • Explore unique variations of West African Islam, Catholicism, and animism.
  • Study Wolof, French, and Pulaar with homestay families, guides, and locals. Spend a week with a family in an individual rural village homestay with very rugged amenities, another week in a semi-urban homestay. Possible other group homestays.
  • Learn about how our Senegalese hosts serve the environment through reforestation efforts in mangrove swamps and chimpanzee habitats. Give back to communities by dispelling stereotypes and assisting your home-stay families with farm chores.

Program Reviews

4.86 Rating
based on 7 reviews
  • 5 rating 85.71%
  • 4 rating 14.29%
  • 3 rating 0%
  • 2 rating 0%
  • 1 rating 0%
  • Growth 5
  • Support 4.85
  • Fun 4.75
  • Housing 4.45
  • Safety 4.45
Showing 1 - 7 of 7 reviews
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

Great and Safe Experience!

The trip helped me grow as a person and learn while being culturally immersed. Truly unique and worth it! Despite going on a trip during a period of political instability, the staff and program leaders ensured the safety of the students while prioritizing having fun and thoroughly learning. There were daily lessons and the instructors really helped bridge the language gap we experienced and allowed us to have a level of independence in our learning while being safe and mindful. At the end, the company also provides great support beyond the trip.

  • Amazing instructors
  • Unique itinerary
  • Extremely flexible schedule
83 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

A Life-Changing Experience

Last summer I decided to spend a month in Senegal as a high school student going into sophomore year, and it was probably the best decision I have ever made. Going into it I had the wrong assumption that the trip was supposed to be a community service based trip, a trip where we help the people in developing countries. I was completely wrong. In Senegal we stayed in several different communities including home-stays, learned their local dialects, trekked, and discussed and reflected with the group as we experienced this culture so unique to us. In Senegal I experienced generosity and kindness that I have never seen in my own culture, I was surrounded with positive energy every day and words cannot describe how wonderful I felt. Senegalese people greet everyone they see, whether they are strangers or close relatives; they put others first before themselves. In the end, I realized that there are so much more things that I could learn from them rather than teach them, that our individual success isn't the most important thing, but rather love, kindness, and community.

The instructors and my peers were another reason why my trip was so great. Instructors and peers from different parts of the world really widened my perspectives. They also made the trip extremely fun.

Senegal was amazing. It changed my perspective of the world as well as my own life. I aspire to bring the sense of generosity and kindness that I felt in Senegal back in my own environment too.

136 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

An Amazing Trip

I absolutely loved this trip and would recommend it to everyone, no matter there travel experience. As a person who travels pretty frequently I kinda knew what I was getting myself into, on the travel side. But what I wasn't expecting was how much I would connect so fast with my peers traveling with me and the peers I met along the way. Senegalese are defiantly the most generous people alive, or at least from who I have met. Each family I stayed with took me in like I was one of their own and each person I met treated me like I have known them forever. I picked Senegal because I wanted somewhere where the people were friendly and they were scared to come up to me or try and make a conversation. During this trip you get to experience many different aspects of being a traveler. You get the tourist side when you first step foot into this new country. You get the insider side when living with a local for a week (or so). And you get the learning side. One of my favorite parts was learning about not only the country itself, but the people and their language. To this day I still know the greeting, although I don't remember the name of the language I am speaking. As I am now a junior and getting ready to apply to colleges I am taking what I learned from this trip and using it for what I want to major in. Not only did I get this amazing experience at that time, but I was able to bring back what I learned and use it as I head off into the world, into college, and even as an adult. I 100% recommend this trip to anyone who wants to not only travel around Senegal but get an insight to the way Senegalese live and much more. GO TO SENEGAL!!!

141 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

Perspective Changing

My summer trip to Senegal was what I consider to be my first real experiential learning trip out of the country away from my family. This was unfamiliar territory so naturally I was a bit nervous, but more so excited for what this adventure had to offer.
Going in, I knew very little about the details of Senegalese culture and their rich heritage. I didn't want to know just yet. I was eager to go in with a clean slate and learn as much as I could, meet as many people as I can, and make the most of the summer before my senior year of high school.
The experiences I had given me a new global perspective that I treasure each day. It was profoundly valuable for me to be able to learn about a culture, through experiencing the culture. I gained an insight into the kindness, generosity, and open-mindedness of the locals which motivated me to be a better person in my own life. I witnessed many different lifestyles through Senegal that made me feel a little more fortunate for what I have; more importantly though, I learned how far simple gestures of kindness can go.
This trip didn't change my life, it changed my perspective on how I view the world, and those around me. I grew as a person and gained many skills through the Dragons curriculum. I wouldn't trade this experience, along with the memories I shared with my group, for anything in the world.

138 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

We're Not So Different After All

Spending a month long cultural immersion trip in West Africa would be a trip expected to full of new experiences, peoples and rituals that one could only attempt to fathom. In my experience in the beautiful country of Senegal, I would have to say I didn't necessary find this misleading. To a small amount of sincere surprise, in my trip to Senegal, I gained comfort in the 'new' world my fellow Dragons explorers were submerged in.

In my time with my host family on the third week of the trip, I got the opportunity to connect more personally with the the way of life that the people in the island of Niodior thrived in. There I was welcomed to spend time with the family of Souleman, a boy who reminded me of myself when I was his age. Souleman is an attentive, sincere and fearless kid that pretty much had my back the entire time I stayed at his home. When I would socialize and chill with the older men of Souleman's family I felt as I was hanging around my cousins and uncles back home in Mexico. The conversations were relaxed and the night carried our conversation as we venture to talk about romance, future and religion. These kind of connections gave me the impression that the culture I so intrinsically wondered about was not so different than mine. The traditions, foods and tongues were different, but the people who lived this way are just human, as am I.

Learning what I did in the manner I did sprawled a sense of global citizenship in my identity. A gift that gives me the duty to travel more and more. I believe its a gift which I still carry to this day, engraved in the passport God has given me.

140 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

Spiritual Ice Bath

At the time I committed to a 4-week Summer Program to Senegal I was ready to experience something other than North American and Western European culture. I ran from materialism and superficiality and when I looked down I was in Senegal with 8 like-minded people. Meeting people with such different beliefs and practices was essentially a mental/spiritual ice bath. I held hands with boys I met in streets and walked with a smile and received non of the venomous looks I would expect from home. Singing was encouraged and self-consciousness seemed not to exist.

The trip simply opened my eyes to the vastness of the world and all of the cultures and histories it (reluctantly) still holds. I am more interested in life and in people. I cannot imagine what it would be like to never have seen Senegal.

What would you improve about this program?
I wish it were more of an individual experience. I forged amazingly tight bonds with the 8 people I went with, but I'm afraid that those bonds came at the cost of a bond with Senegal. I wish I had read more literature and poetry of the place and that there were less forced group activities.
139 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

Nights in the Casamance

Often, the problem with telling stories is one's inability to capture the feeling of the moment in words. We can say the facts, say there was an electricity in the air, but that electricity is lost in translation. This is why it has been so difficult for me to explain why one of the happiest times of my young life took place in the tiny village of Sare Cene, in the Casamance region of Senegal. Why? I am asked so often, and while my answer has been refined, it always falls short. Why? Well, every night, all the young people of the village and I danced well past the time when the moon reached its zenith, illuminated only by the light of a dying campfire, the moon, and the vast multitude of stars. Even with my prettiest language, I fail. I can not convey the energy, the joy, and the laughter. I can not describe the feeling, or the reason I am smiling so wide in all of my pictures. The best I can do is to refer them to Where There Be Dragons, and say "Why don't you find out for yourself."

What would you improve about this program?
I would have loved for the trip to have been extended from four weeks to six weeks.
151 people found this review helpful.

Questions & Answers