The Island of Gorée is a UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization) World Heritage site just off the coast of Dakar, Senegal. The island is a key geographical point in the Atlantic Slave Trade and a must see when you visit. You can take a ferry there for ~5,200 CFA, and there are several ferries each day. You can find the schedule here.
There is a little bit of security, and they will search your bag to check for weapons.
View of the port building from the ferry
A couple of photos of Dakar’s skyline from the inner harbor
First view of the island
The island contrasted with the city of Dakar
A view of the African Coast – it went as far as I could see from the ferry, and is one of the cooler things I have seen on this trip.
The ferry ride takes about 20 minutes, and the water wasn’t too rough.
There’s a tiny beach just to the right when you exit the ferry – go that way. If you walk to the left, people will stop you and tell you to check in with the “Tourism Office” which is a trap to make you hire a guide for the island. It’s not necessary. Hang a right toward the beach once you’re off the ferry, and explore the island for yourself.
These boats sit just outside of the fort on one side of the island. It has since been turned into a natural history museum of sorts.
Admission into the museum is 500 CFA for adults, and 100 CFA for children. The museum contains pottery, weapons, and other materials from the early history of the island, and also has photos regarding the battles between the colonizers and the African people. The most chilling artifacts were the leftover shackles and drawings of the ships the “slaves” were kept in when shipped across the Atlantic Ocean.
The fort structure itself is quite old, and from what I could read on the signs was built in the 1700s. There were cannons all along the upper level. Tip: All of the explanations, including the island maps, are in French.
I was also interested in the architecture on the island, which buildings have been preserved and which had not.
Though I didn’t take a picture of them, there were a few children and about 10 goats near the fort. The children were herding them to the water to give them baths.
I did, however, get a picture of this cutie. He turned to look at me right as I snapped the photo.
There was a massive baobab tree toward the middle of the island, and children were playing soccer next to it.
Part of the castle area at the far end of the island. In order to get there, you walk up a stone path filled with artists and art hanging everywhere. They will negotiate prices with you just like any other seller, and they will remove the art from the frame and roll it up for you so it’s possible to pack and take it home.
There were great views all over the island. Even the radio tower is disguised to look like a palm tree. Not too far from here, one of the art sellers asked me if I wanted to purchase one of his fabric pieces, eventually we negotiated for me to buy it, and when he couldn’t make change for the purchase price, he gave me a necklace. His name was Abduman. The only sad thing is now that the art is wrapped, I won’t get to see it for another month!
This is also in the castle area, but I have no idea what it is.
This was a bit of a reality check for me. There are quite a few artists on the island, and other people who sustain the tourist industry there. This is where someone lives. Their goat is tied up under the walkway.
There is plenty of tropical foliage around the island.
There are sellers all over the island, and several people have told me that they are incredibly pushy because Gorée is a bit of a tourist trap. While that may be true, overall I didn’t think the sellers were any more pushy than those at the public markets in Dakar or those on Ile N’Gor. Another advantage for the sellers here is their ability to speak English. It’s not as common in Dakar, especially with taxis. I’ve met taxi drivers who only speak Wolof, and had to figure out how to communicate directions and negotiate price that way. It’s definitely an adventure!
Sitting by the water at the end of the afternoon waiting for the ferry was lovely. The locals and travelers were enjoying afternoon drinks and snacks, and I had some Gazelle and frites with Senegalese hot sauce.
All in all, it was a beautiful day!