Harmattan Tours


Tours in Africa and the Middle East







Dak'Art Biennale of African Contemporary Art  Dakar, Senegal

10-16 or
10-19 May 2012





Tour carried out in co-operation with the Artists' Association of Turku, Finland.

A few places left!





Registration and further information:


Staffan Martikainen

+358 40 7617945





Back to home page






Ibrahima Kebe in his workshop (photo: Riitta Liede)


Dak'Art, the Biennale of African contemporary art (www.dakart.org) is organised for the 10th time in May 2012. The Biennale is a showcase of the best contemporary art from Africa and the African diaspora. The tour is organised jointly by Harmattan Tours and the Artists' Association of Turku, Finland, building on the success of our similar tour in 2010.

The tour comprises six days in Dakar and the surroundings, 10-16 May 2012. We will take part in the Biennale inauguration festivities and the openings of the best exhibitions – including the OFF part of the Biennale (almost 200 exhibitions to choose from). You will also meet local artists in their ateliers, visit galleries, workshops and museums.


In Ngor fishing village (photo: Marja Laaksonen)

But Dakar is well worth a visit in its own right. The bustling, colourful city centre is situated on the edge of the Cap Vert peninsula, surrounded by the Atlantic. Everyday life is art in Senegal – at least when it comes to clothing. Flamboyant and sensual dressing is the norm. Dakar is where French and West African culture meet: in architecture, in the arts scene and in daily life. Likewise, Senegalese cooking is a fusion of the best of African and French cuisine. Everything is made from fresh ingredients, of which fish is the most important one. We'll take you to restaurants of diffeent kinds - and hope to share a communal bowl à la Sénégalaise one evening!

We will visit the island of Gorée, also called the slave island. This Unesco World Heritage site is a short ferry trip away from the centre of Dakar. Apart from its colonial buildings, the island is known for its thriving artist community.


In the night time, the clubs of Dakar are well worth a visit. Dance to Mbalax rhythms and listen to world-famous Senegalese musicians.

If you want to see more of Senegal, you can stay on for 4 more days for a round tour of the northern part of the country (16-19 May – see below). This part of our stay in Senegal, including a visit to the old colonial town of Saint Louis and the holy city of Touba, is organised in cooperation with Malmö Art Museum, Sweden. Alternatively, if you are of the independent kind, you can spend some extra days in Dakar - or why not on the beach of Saly, south of Dakar.


Your tour hosts/guides are sculptor and journalist Riitta Liede from the Artist's Association of Turku, Finland and Staffan Martikainen from Harmattan Tours. They have both spent longer periods in Dakar for work and study. The Artist's Association has been running a community project in cooperation with a Senegalese organisation in a neighbourhood of Dakar since 2004. The group will mainly consist of Finns, but English is spoken.


On Gorée island


Preliminary programme in Dakar:


Thu 10 May: Arrival day

Fri 11 May: Inauguration of the Biennale in the morning. Visit the main exhibition in the afternoon.

Sat 12 May: Dakar city tour. Biennale exhibitions and openings.

Sun 13 May: Visit OFF exhibitions and the Turku Artists' Association community projekt in the Santhiaba quarter.

Mon 14 May: Visits to artist's ateliers and crafts markets in Dakar and the surroundings

Tue 15 May: Gorée island, including historical museums and the artists' quarters

Wed 16 May: Free time for individual exploration or shopping. Departure in the evening/night. Alternatively, you can add a 4-day extension tour of Northern Senegal (see below).


NB. This order is subject to change depending on the final Biennale programme.

Evening programme: On request, we can organise visits to concerts with Senegalese music or e.g. a traditional wrestling show – a truly Senegalese cultural experience!


Discussion with artist Amadou Tounkara (photo: Riitta Liede)

We have booked accommodation in two categories. Hotel Djoloff is a new, unique design hotel close to the city centre, with a view of the fishing village of Soumbedioune.
Alternatively, you can stay at Espace Thially, situated approx. 5 kms north of the city centre. A simple, charming little family guest house with its own patio garden and cybercafé. Rooms are equipped with fans. Shared bathrooms. http://fondationolivier.com/espacethially/index.php and http://dakar-ca-bouge.net/Espace-Thially


Travel options: 





Biennale (6 nights Hotel Djoloff) + tour of Senegal (3 nights)

€ 1150

€ 1330


Biennale (6 nights Hostel Thially) + tour of Senegal (3 nights)

€ 885

€ 1060


Biennale + Dakar on your own (9 nights Hotel Djoloff)

€ 815

€ 1085


Biennale + Dakar on your own (9 nights hostel Thially)

€ 420

€ 455


Only Biennale (6 nights Hotel Djoloff)

€ 650

€ 830


Only Biennale (6 nights Hostel Thially)

€ 385

€ 410


The price includes accommodation and guide, transport, entrance fees and tips for the Biennale part of the tour. Not included in the Biennale price: flights, meals and evening programme or personal expenses. Count on 3-10 euros per meal, depending on the restaurant.
Full board during the tour of Senegal (excluding drinks and dinner the final evening).


Please book your flights well in advance to get the most advantageous fare. Flight dates for travel options 1 and 2: 10 May and 19 May. Flight dates for travel option 3: 10 May and 19 May. Among others, the following companies fly to Senegal: Air France, Brussels Airlines, Iberia (flights from Brussels starting from € 560), TAP and Turkish Airlines. 


Visa: Find out if you need one. Yellow fever vaccination is obligatory. Malaria prophylaxis is recommended.


Bookings by 1 March 2012 through Staffan Martikainen info@harmattantours.com
+358 40 7617 945.


We can accept the first 12 persons who sign up for the tour. Registration fee: 100 euros. The remaining balance of the tour price must be paid by April 15.

All payments to be made to Mr Jarmo Pikkujamsa by bank transfer

IBAN: FI26 5710 7050 0064 49                          
Communication: Dak'Art biennale




Tour of Senegal:


12 May: We leave Dakar by minibus, heading east. Our first stop is the nature reserve of Bandia, where we can see several wild animals: rhinos, giraffes, buffaloes, crocodiles, antelopes, deer and ostriches, in a typically Senegalese baobab landscape. After lunch, drive north to Saint-Louis. This former capital of French West Africa lies on the border of Mauretania and is a UNESCO World Heritage site. After lunch, city tour by horse cart. Dinner. Overnight at Hotel de la Poste.


13 May: Visit to the Djoudj national park, famous for its bird life. Boat tour in the Senegalese river delta. Lunch in Saint Louis. In the afternoon, visit local galleries and exhibitions. Dinner. Overnight at Hotel de la Poste.


14 May: Continue inland to Touba, the holy city of the Mouride brotherhood. Visit to the Great Mosque. NB: cover up your legs and shoulders. In the afternoon, drive to the city of Thies for lunch and a visit to the famous tapestry workshop and local market. We continue to Lac Rose – the Pink Lake – with a salinity level comparable to that of the Dead Sea. Dinner and overnight.


15 May: We will see how the salt is extracted and drive fourwheelers through the sand dunes, in the tracks of the famous Dakar Rally. Feel like a swim in the salty lake or relaxing by the pool? Return to Dakar, where we arrive at 6 p.m. You can have a shower before the return flights in the evening/at night.

During the round tour, we can make stops on your request, e.g. to visit villages, schools etc, schedule permitting. The tour is guided in English only.


The round tour marked in blue



Senegal is very safe for travelling. However, as a metropolis with 3 million inhabitants, Dakar has its fair share of pickpockets and conmen. The local population is used to visitors. The dominating language is Wolof, but the official language is French, which is spoken everywhere. English is rarely spoken. The weather in May is dry and wamt: afternoon temperatures approx. 30 degrees Celsius, at night around 20 degrees.

In a Saint-Louis street



Copyright © Harmattan Tours 2012