Sine-Saloum Region

The Sine-Saloum Region of Senegal

The natural region of Sine-Saloum is located north of The Gambia and south of the Petite Côte. It encompasses an area of 180,000 hectares. It is in this region that the Saloum Delta National Park is located. It is a river delta formed by the confluence of two rivers: the Sine and the Saloum. Because it flows so slowly, this delta allows saltwater to travel deep inland. Long ago, the Serer kingdoms of Sine and Saloum were rivals. In 1984, the area was divided into two administrative regions: Kaolack and Fatick.

The main economic activity is fishing. Transportation is difficult because of the many islands. A secondary economy is the construction of fishing boats. The salinity of the water is increasing due to mismanagement of the rivers upstream. Mangroves are disappearing, and freshwater fish are disappearing with them. The villagers have difficulty obtaining freshwater. Sometimes water pumps are donated by international organizations, but spare parts are difficult to find when the pumps fail. The change in water salinity is affecting the ecosystem as much as it is changing the lifestyle of the inhabitants of the region. Sine-Saloum has long been feared by even Europe’s most distinguished mariners because the sandbanks move, particularly in Sangomar. This danger to outsiders has long protected the region and preserved its individual villages.

Kaolack: The region’s capital Kaolack is resolutely modern and bustles with activity: crossroads, commercial port, holy city for the Tidjane brotherhood and capital of groundnut and saltmarshes: Kaolack is all of these things at once. The city also owns one of the largest markets in the country, a neo-Moorish style whose architecture will enchant you. Not far from there, you will be able to discover a number of megalithic sites similar to “Breton standing stones”.

Fishermen Villages

Fishermen villages along the coastline and those set up along the meanders of the Sine and Saloum Rivers are great authentic sites; visiting these villages represents a unique occasion to understand the daily lives of the inhabitants of this region. This is the Senegal of dugouts and fishing: professionals and amateurs are certain that they will be eating fish for supper!

Foundiougne: Located on the left bank of the Saloum and accessible by ferry, this peaceful village has kept its charm of yesteryear with its old buildings and its streets lined with mango trees.

Missirah: Built against the forest, this village is organized around a port and its dugout workshop. A small local specificity: fishermen sell their fish by suspending them from the handlebars of their bicycle.

Toubakouta: Known not only for its Senegalese wrestling competitions but also for the talent of  its artisans and notably its sculptors, the village is also a crossroads for two ethnic groups: the fishermen Serer and the farming Mandinka.

Toubakouta will also make amateur hunters happy since it offers an area of 100,000 ha for hunting (guinea fowl and warthogs) from mid-December to the beginning of May.

Saloum Delta National Park: From the Pointe de Sangomar to the forest of Fathala, the park offers a shelter for increasingly threatened wild fauna: 200 bird species, jackals, monkeys, wild African cats, manatees, tortoises, and otters and even crocodiles and dolphins. It includes a number of islands on the Saloum, such as Guissanor, Poutake, Betanti, the cattle and bird islands, hence an ideal time to go out in a dugout from the bologne lined with mangroves. You will also be able to visit by car, outside of the rainy season.

Dionevar Island: This is an island not to be missed! Mainly populated with Nominka, excellent fishermen from the Serer group, you will be enchanted by the charm of its architecture, its richly-colored houses decorated with shells as well as a luscious environment where groundnut and rice cultivations are planted alongside coconut and lemon trees. Gourmets will succumb to the specialty of grilled molluscs served with rice.