Work and Travel in Senegal
VOLUNTEER AND PAID WORK OPPORTUNITIES IN SENEGAL FOR TRAVELLERS
Senegal is often known as the gateway to West Africa. With a capital that brings together the beauty of Paris and the reality of mass slums, travel in Senegal is often an experience of many contrasts.
It’s a growing expat population and there are so many volunteering opportunities in Senegal for you to support yourself with. Whether you want to stay in Dakar, or explore the remote regions of the country, there’s something for you.
Our travel guide to Senegal is going to introduce you to the different options available for you during your stay here.
1. Teach English in Senegal
Senegal is a former French colony. So it should come as no surprise to find out that the main language of the country is French. But stuck in the middle of Senegal is the English-speaking Gambia. This mix of English and French colonial history has led to a mixing of languages.
Whether it’s a desire for a better life or cross-border trade, there’s a real need for English speakers within Senegal. If you want to work and travel in Senegal, teaching English is a fantastic option.
You might decide to work in a formal school or you might want to opt for a language exchange, so you can brush up on your French. It’s entirely up to you.
2. Provide Youth Support in Senegal
Youth support projects is a broad term used to denote the different projects relating to childcare. This could involve working in an orphanage, kindergarten, or a youth centre. Either way, your work in Senegal will involve working with younger children and supporting youth staff.
You should be extremely careful when choosing the right volunteering project for you. Like in the rest of Africa, there are fake and unethical orphanages and schools. This is why you need to do your research to ensure that you’re making an ethical volunteering decision.
Don’t just take the first option you see.
3. Work with Chimpanzees in Senegal
Senegal is a mixture of urban sprawl and tropical coastline. So it should come as no surprise to find that Senegal is home to a number of endangered creatures. None are more intriguing than the chimpanzee.
Unfortunately, the community of chimpanzees in Senegal is under threat from overdevelopment. Travel in Senegal and you’ll witness a fast growing country attempting to break the cycle of poverty. This is coming at a price.
That’s why these volunteering opportunities in Senegal will give you a chance to preserve these creatures for future generations.
VOLUNTEER WORK VISA / PERMIT REQUIREMENTS FOR SENEGAL
Senegal offers full visa-free access to almost 60 countries. These include the UK, all members of the European Union (EU), Canada, the US, Japan, and South Korea. Visa-free travel in Senegal lasts for 90 days before it has to be renewed. Many expats cross the border with the Gambia in order to accomplish this. For more info click here.
A further 69 countries are entitled to a visa-on-arrival. To facilitate tourism, countries that are entitled to a visa-on-arrival can also stay in Senegal for 90 days. This applies to Switzerland, South Africa, Russia, China, Australia, and New Zealand.
Despite there being a difference, the only additional step people from these countries have to take is filling out an application in Dakar’s airport. It should be mentioned that to obtain a visa-on-arrival you’re expected to arrive in Dakar. There have been mixed reports of tourists attempting to cross and get a visa at land borders.
Everyone else must use the Senegalese e-visa system.
SEASONAL BACKPACKER SKILLS NEEDED IN SENEGAL
Senegal has two main seasons. Your work in Senegal will be heavily impacted by these two distinct seasons. From May onwards, this is the rainy season. It can be difficult to take on many conservation and construction projects as these will take you to more remote areas.
We also don’t recommend work and travel in Senegal on the coast during this season.
The best options for the rainy season involve staying in the urbanised areas. Teaching English is the most popular option for foreigners here in the rainy season. You can also work in an orphanage or in a youth centre, teaching necessary skills to young people.
There’s also a growing market in delivering IT skills to burgeoning businesses. Any Westerner who knows how to use a computer will be able to help the local Senegalese implement computing within their businesses. This is especially the case for older Senegalese who have been running businesses for years.
The summer is a continuation of the wet season. You should refer back to the ‘Spring’ section for more information on the projects available during the summer.
The rainy season begins to stop in autumn. At the start of November is when you’ll see the last of the rains. This is when the harmattan season begins, which is what the locals call the dry season. You’ll see constant sunshine and regular hot winds flowing through the country.
This is the time to move to the coastline and begin partaking in conservation projects. There are a variety of conservation areas you can involve yourself in.
These include working in the jungles in the tropical parts of Senegal and working with endangered animals, like chimpanzees.
Winter is much the same as autumn. It’s a continuation of the dry season, which lasts all the way up until April. Refer back to the previous section to get an idea of some of the volunteering opportunities in Senegal in winter.
ATTITUDE TO FOREIGNERS WORKING OR VOLUNTEERING IN SENEGAL
Senegal is fast becoming one of the most popular tourist destinations in West Africa. It doesn’t come with the safety concerns of other West African nations. Plus, it doesn’t suffer from the same lack of infrastructure as the countries around it.
You should be aware that there’s a high proportion of Muslims here. In some of the more conservative areas, you should be prepared to recognise cultural norms. This especially applies to women, who will be expected to dress modestly.
But overall the Senegalese are becoming more and more used to foreigners visiting their country. It’s a different culture that will bring its own set of challenges, but don’t let that put you off.
Are you ready to work and travel in Senegal?