The best time to visit Senegal is undoubtedly during the northern hemisphere winter, between the months of December and March.
This is when the cooler climate makes travelling in this majority dry, arid country most enjoyable.
That said, if you are prepared for a bit of heat and humidity, you can actually visit Senegal all year round.
This is especially in the lusher, greener region of Casamance in the south, which has a more tropical climate.
I visited Senegal as a solo female in February and found the weather very pleasant.
Having been in Sierra Leone just before this, it was a delight to arrive into Senegal and find a much lower level of humidity and even a fresh breeze in the evening!
So if you’re wondering when best to visit Senegal, based on weather, price and festival, keep reading for the full lowdown…
- What to Wear in Senegal as a Female Traveller
- Why You Can’t Miss Visiting Saint Louis in Senegal
- 10 Best Things to Do in Dakar
Senegal Weather & Climate
Located in north west Africa, Senegal sits in part of the edge of the Sahara Desert and part in the lusher, tropical, subsaharan zone.
This geography gives Senegal 2 distinct seasons – the dry, cooler winter season, known as harmattan and the wet, hotter summer season known as hivernage.
Given its location in the northern hemisphere, these summer and winter seasons match up with those of Europe and North America.
This means from December to March, Senegal has its cooler season and from June through September it has its hotter season.
The cool season is not only the drier, but also the windier time in Senegal, when the harmattan winds blow in from the Sahara – hence the name given to this time of year.
These winds drop over the cooler, wetter months however, meaning the humidity kicks in as temperatures and rainfall rise.
In fact, heat and humidity are the biggest reasons not to visit Senegal during the wet season.
As a mostly desert country, the north of Senegal only receives around 350mm of rain annually – and this falls almost entirely within 3 months of the year.
Rains begin around June and recede around October, heralding the drier, cooler, breezier winter.
Unfortunately, like most places in the world, global warming is shifting the weather patterns of Senegal but, in general, it’s still best to visit Senegal in the winter season months that run from December to March.
This is not only for a more pleasant travel experience, but also because many tourism businesses close or reduce their hours during the wet season.
Remote areas are also hard to get to in the rainy months and the mosquitoes are out in force too during this time!
As a rule of thumb, Senegal is pretty warm all year round.
Average day time temperatures during the dry season, when it’s best to visit, average around 25-28 degrees Celsius across this country.
In the evening, especially with the harmattan wind, it can even get a bit fresh – but often this is a welcome experience!
In the wet season, temperatures cab rise up to 30 degrees Celsius +.
40 degrees is not unknown.
Coupled with the humidity at this time of year, anyone visiting at this time should expect to sweat!
The only mountains in Senegal are in the east of the country.
Of course, this region therefore tends to be a little cooler than the coast, due to the altitude, but it’s still best to visit even this area during the dry winter season – just bring a few more layers for the night!
The hottest temperatures across the country tend to be recorded in the late summer months of August and September during the peak rains.
The lowest temperatures are generally recorded in December, January and February – these are also the months when there’s no rainfall.
Weather in Dakar
Dakar, the capital of Senegal, is located on the Atlantic Coast.
In the dry season it averages a pleasant 25 degrees and a gentle breeze.
In the wet season, the humidity can be stifling and the mosquitoes out in force!
With almost no rain from November through May, you can expect the best days in the capital (with pleasant fresh evenings) in the months of December, January and February.
Dry days are really key for ensuring you get to enjoy all the sights in this city – including the islands of Goree and N’Gor.
Weather in Casamance
Casamance is a different region to the rest of Senegal – both in terms of climate and culture.
Sitting in the south of the country, its landscape is lush is framed by twisting rivers and a white sand coastline.
Located below The Gambia (a country engulfed by Senegal on 3 sides), Casamance has a more tropical, less dessert feel to it, which is a result of the region’s higher rainfall – often 3 times the amount the north receives.
This is the one region where you can visit all year round, as the wet season brings lush vegetation and amazing kayak rides along the rich, natural waterways.
Public Holidays & Festivals
Another factor to consider when deciding the best time to visit Senegal, are the public holidays and festivals here.
The former are likely to disrupt travel, while the latter can add a huge amount to your overall experience.
Official Senegalese public holidays are as follows…
- 1st February – Confederation Agreement Day
- 4th April – National Day
- 1st May – Labour Day
- 15th August – Assumption Day
- 20th August – Independence Day
- 1st November – All Saints Day
In addition to these, there’s a range of Islamic and Christian holidays that may also affect opening times, services and domestic travel in Senegal – try to avoid these if you can.
In contrast, festivals can add a lot to you Senegal travels, although they do mostly take part in the hot, shoulder season that marks the months before the rains come.
Festivals held in April and May include the Saint Louis Jazz Fest, Dak’art Biennial and the initiations within the Bassari communities in the east of Senegal.
On the other side of the rains, the unique, week-long celebrations of King of Oussouye take place in Casamance in the south of the country and really are quite the spectacle.
Best Overall Time to Visit Senegal
Overall, the best time to visit Senegal is during the months of December, January, February and March.
During these months, there’s the least rainfall, the driest days and usually a breeze (both inland and at the coast) to keep the humidity lower.
These months are also the best time for spotting wildlife across the country, particularly birds, who migrate in their thousands from Europe to Senegal.
Access is also good across the country from December to March and there’s less mosquitoes around, meaning less risk of malaria too.
Fresher evenings during this time also bring welcome relief and usually mean that at night, a fan only is sufficient for getting to sleep.
Needles to say however, December through March also form the peak tourist season in Senegal.
This can mean prices are higher at this time and I’d certainly advise booking accommodation and any tours in advance.
This is especially true during the Christmas holidays of course, when many European travellers visit Senegal.
Usually, I advise people to visit a country in the shoulder seasons – this is a good way to balance prices and crowds with good weather – but in Senegal the shoulder seasons of October and April are some of the hottest and wettest months here, so best to avoid!
As such, I think it’s worth risking the higher price tags of the peak December, January and February season to get the best travel experience here.
This is especially true in Senegal, where even during the peak season, the country is pretty thin on tourists.
I mean let’s not forget that for most, West Africa remains largely off their traveller maps… just one more great reason to go!
Mini Travel Guide to Senegal
How Long to Visit For?
1 week is a good amount of time to see a lot that Senegal has to offer.
Allow more time if you want to visit Casamance too.
Check out this 7 day Senegal itinerary I took for more ideas.
How to Get There?
Most travellers arrive into Senegal’s internal airport – Blaise Diagne InternationalAirport – which is 43km from downtown Dakar.
Flying to Banjul Airport in the Gambia is also popular, especially if visiting Casamance.
As always I use Skyscanner to find the best flight prices.
How to Get Around?
It’s best to get around Senegal care of a tour company if you’re feeling nervous.
Here’s some top Senegal guided tours to give you an idea.
If you’re travelling independently, local buses are the best way.
DemDikk is government run and the best public transport service going.
Ride Share apps, such as Heetch, are popular for shorter journeys, especially in Dakar.
World Nomads offers simple and flexible travel insurance. Buy at home or while travelling and claim online from anywhere in the world.
Alternatively, if you’re a long-term traveller, digital nomad or frequent remote worker seeking travel health cover, check out Safetywing’s Nomad Insurance policies.
The easy way to spend abroad with real exchange rates, no markups and no sneaky transaction fees, I always travel with my Wise card, including in Senegal.
It works just like a debit card and links easily with Google and Apple pay – sold! Grab yours here.
Where to Travel After Senegal
After Senegal, I travelled in The Gambia.
Before Senegal, I’d spent an amazing week in Sierra Leone
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And that’s my full guide to the best time to visit Senegal.
I hope it was helpful in planning your trip to this amazing West African country.
Have any more questions about adventuring here?
Then you can drop any questions you have into the comments box below and I’ll get back to you…
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