Tanika Senegal Cover

Der Senegal ist einer der Orte, die dich mit ihrer exotischen Kultur, den bodenständigen Menschen und einer köstlichen Küche in den Bann zieht.

Gemeinsam mit der Billabong Adventure Division reisten die beiden Surferinnen Tanika Hoffman und Emma Smith in den Senegal. Da beide Mädchen in Südafrika geboren und aufgewachsen sind, wollten sie unbedingt eine andere Region der afrikanischen Kultur kennenlernen. Wir haben uns mit Tanika zum Interview getroffen, um von ihr mehr über die westafrikanische Surf-Szene und ihre Reise in den Senegal zu erfahren.

Das Interview haben wir auf Englisch geführt.

 


How did your journey to Senegal start?

Getting there from SA is though, as you have to fly via Dubai. However it is so worth the journey. I can't quite explain the buzz in the air and all the positive energy I felt upon arrival. We were surrounded by eager to help locals, authentically decorated taxis and a beautiful sunset glow in the sky. We were collected by a friendly local, who helped us with pilling our boards into the van, and effortlessly weaved us through the Dakar rush hour traffic to the coast.

The drive from the airport was such a fun, eye opening experience, women had their days purchases piled high up on their heads, men were dressed in their work clothes with a firm grip on their briefcase as they hang off the sides of crowded buses. And little boys and girls were laughing, playing, and had soccer goal posts set up wherever space provided. When we arrived, we went straight to Surfer Paradise, which is owned by Oumar Seye.

Tanika Senegal Town

On arrival we had the most delicious fish dinner before heading off to our hotel, The Palms were us ladies stayed. It’s located just a short walk from the beach and has two incredible restaurants, with everything from local meals to pizzas on the menu. And most importantly airconditioned rooms, which could be essential during the hot summer months. The Billabong boys stayed at Surfers Paradise, which is perfect surf trip accommodation, it is situated right in front of Oumar, one of the more consistent surf spots in Senegal.

Where there many surf travelers in the area?

The surf scene in Senegal is thriving! It's so cool to see the amount of local kids in the water and foreign travelers exploring the different surf spots. It was such a pleasure to see the local surf community sharing their knowledge with the foreigners and foreigners introducing the local kids to new/different equipment and board shapes. Surfing and the ocean bring such joy and has the ability to bring people from all walks of life together – which you can clearly see in Senegal. Most surf tourists were based around N'gor Island, which is home to a fun, playful right hand reef break. Almost everywhere we surfed, we bumped into at least one non local surfer.


What was special about the daily living and culture?

I found the traditional meal called “Thieboudienne” very special. It's a rice, fish and vegetable dish. The idea behind the dish is to provide joy, and to bring families and friends together during mealtime. Rice, fish and veg sounds quite simple, but this dish is a blend of colorful African spices, juicy local veg and often, fish which is caught by a family member. The dish is served on a large platter in the middle of the table, and everyone kind of just digs in – No cutlery needed.

Tanika Senegal Surf

What surf spots surrounded your area and how did you get to the spots? Who was your guide?

We were lucky enough to have Oumar as our guide. He is the first African surfer to turn pro back in the 90’s and is known as one of the Senegalese pioneers of the sport. It is largely thanks to Oumar that surfing in Senegal was able to be put on the map and that more and more local kids are exposed to the sport.

Blue 22 Surf Cover

Surfers Paradise
His camp “Surfers Paradise” is home to two fun waves, right next to one another. A fun right, and a shallow left reef. We loved enjoying a morning coffee and croissant at Surfers Paradise while trying to decide which wave to surf first.

N’gor island
N’gor island is definitely a must surf when visiting Senegal, there are a few waves around the Island but “N’gor Rights” is where we spent most of our time. You can easily catch a local boat from the mainland to the island, or the boat can drop you in the channel and you can just paddle into the lineup. We preferred being dropped in the channel as negotiating the sea urchins on the rocks before paddling out can be tricky. Senegal has the most sea urchins that I’ve ever seen. Hence booties are a good item on your packing list.

Ouakam
My favourite spot we surfed was a left, which broke into an incredibly beautiful horseshoe bay, in front of the magnificent Mosquée de la Divinité. The wave is called “Ouakam” and is apparently quite fickle, so we were lucky to have it breaking.

Tanika Senegal Boat

What are the waves like, compared to other destinations? Do they rely on seasons?

Senegal has some incredible waves, there are beach breaks which resemble the world class waves of Hossegor, and the dreamiest reef and point set-ups. There’s such a wide variety of waves, so I think despite your level of surfing, you’ll find a spot that you enjoy. I believe the best surf and driest season is between October - April, when the swell direction and prevailing winds are best for the majority of the surf spots.

What is the atmosphere in the water like?

There was such a fun vibe in the water. And a nice mix of locals and tourists. N’gor island had mostly local surfers and was home to a fun group of up-and-coming surfer kids. They all cheered each other on and were so eager to learn from the older generation and foreign surfers.

How common are female surfers and were you respected?

Being a female surfer, you often feel like you have to earn your spot in the lineup when traveling to new places, but Senegal has such a fun welcoming feel… There were a few local female surfers, and a good few foreign female surfer in the water, all very supportive of one another.

Tanika Senegal Kids

Are there cultural things you must keep in mind while surfing as a woman?

When walking around between surf spots and to the beach, covering up or not being in a bikini is the respectful thing to do. However, we were able to surf in our bikinis and whatever we found most comfortable.


Did you ever feel unsafe as two females travelling?

Not at all. Like anywhere in the world, there are certain places where we wouldn't explore alone, but everywhere we went, felt very safe. Still, I recommend when traveling to Senegal, it’s definitely helpful if you have friends or know someone local in Senegal. A few of those beautiful hidden gems are found at the end of long, confusing, winding roads and are tricky to find.


Thank you for the insight Tanika, great chatting to you!


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Credits 

Photos:
Nicole Sweet
Jimmy Wilson
Billabong Women's