Saint Louis Jazz Festival

Senegal – Saint Louis Jazz Festival and Beinnale of Art, an 8 day small group tour.

When it comes to culture, Senegal is a one of the best of the west African countries to visit. A country that is rich in musical heritage, as proved by the two main events which have been taking place there for years. The Jazz Festival in Saint Louis and the Biennale of Art in Dakar.

Come with us on this annual exploration of the arts and culture in Senegal. Places are limited and early booking is required.

The Saint Louis Jazz Festival is a major event in the international music scene and on that many of the main artists in the genre will attend every year. Artists like Archie Sheep, Randy Weston, Lucky Peterson, Jake DeJohnette, Mc Coy Tyner, Ali Farka Tourè, Abdoullah Ibrahim, and Joe Zawinul have walked the stages throughout the years.

These are artists who have changed Jazz’s history. On this tour you will get to experience the feeling when the sun goes down and the jazz rhythms begin to mix with the natural African ones.

The Dakar Biennale, or Dak’Art – Biennale de l’Art Africain Contemporain, is a major contemporary art exhibition that takes place once every two years in Dakar, Senegal. Dak’Art’s focus has been on Contemporary African Art since 1996. Expect a lively atmosphere with music and theatre performances with up to 200 exhibitions featuring 500 artists showing contemporary African art.

Join us on this unique tour exploring the past and future of arts and culture in Senegal.

Tour ratings.

  • Fitness
  • Off the beaten track 
  • Culture
  • History
  • Wildlife

Tour Pace


Tour style


Relaxed Pace

Relaxed tours are easy paced with plenty of leisure time built in. The tour will in all probability still be off the beaten track, with the occasional early start and there may still be occasional long drives. In general on a relaxed pace tour you can enjoy easy-going activities and experiences with opportunities to absorb the sights and immerse yourself in the local surroundings.

Moderate Pace

Moderate pace tours are ideal if you want a tour experience that combines activities and experiences with some time to relax. Typically you will be active and busy for part of the day but then also have time to rest and recharge your batteries. In general on a moderate paced tour there may be some long journeys involved but the tour is not an expedition or a road trip. On a moderate paced tour it will be necessary to have some early starts.

Busy Pace

A busy paced tour means that you can expect to be doing, seeing or experiencing something new almost every day, and moving on from place to place to pack in as much as possible. There may be early starts, long journeys and tiring days along the way, but you’ll return home feeling you’ve really experienced as much as you possibly could.

Pioneer Class Tours

On our Pioneer tours, you will be amongst an elite group of intrepid travellers and some of the first to explore a country that few have been privileged enough to discover. Of course, exploring such areas of the world will come with its challenges; it may mean several nights camping, long journeys by 4WD and the need to maintain a degree of flexibility for when carefully laid plans change. These are challenging tours in countries and areas that may have poor infrastructure, high levels of poverty and illiteracy. This can translate in to low standards in hotels, bad roads and poor driving standards among other issues. We try and smooth out as much of these issues as we can but you should be prepared to experience the bad with the good.

Traveller Class Tours

Our Traveller itineraries are at the core of our programme. These journeys are designed for travellers who still want to discover a land away from the tourist crowds but expect minimum standards. Accommodation will be primarily hotel based, although you could still find yourself camping, or the guest of a local family. Depending on the destination and itinerary, you’ll likely be travelling in a private vehicle, with occasional use of public transport. This is adventure travel with some of the rough edges smoothed out.


Arrive in Dakar and transfer to hotel accommodation. Overnight at Hotel Djoloff or similar.

Today we set off and drive to Lac Rose, a shallow saltwater lake surrounded by dunes, also known as Lac Retba. The water is ten times saltier than in the ocean and thanks to this high concentration the lake often shimmers into pink. Workers here collect salt in the traditional way.

An exciting drive on the beach by 4×4 will bring us to the largest fisherman village in Senegal. Here more than 4500 wooden painted pirogues come to the shore with their catch each day. Leaving our vehicles for a less intrusive experience, we find the fisherman selling to the local market women, meet the artisans carving the large pirogues and the painters decorating them with bright colours.

We continue to Saint Louis, a charming old town that was the first capital of all French colonies in West Africa and will attend the main event of the Jazz festival.

Overnight at Hotel de la Poste or similar (BLD)

Located on two islands between the Senegal river and the ocean at the southern edge of the Sahara, rich in three centuries of history, cultural background, geography, architecture, Saint-Louis is a bridge between the savannah and the desert, the ocean, the river, and the inland, between tradition and modernity, Islam and Christianity, Europe and Africa.

Saint Louis is known to locals as Ndar and is a charming ancient town. It was a French territory from 1673 until 1895 and the capital of all French West Africa colonies from 1895 until 1902 when the capital was moved to Dakar. From 1920 to 1957, it also served as the capital of the neighbouring colony of Mauritania. It was the former base of the Aeropostale airmail operation between Europe, Africa, and South America. Saint Exupéry, the famous writer, author of “The Little Prince”, was one of Aeropostale pilots who flew this route.

Home to a society with a distinctive lifestyle, Saint Louis has retained its unique identity. “No one comes without falling in love with the city,” proudly say its people who consider Saint Louis as the birthplace of Senegalese Teranga, the Wolof word for hospitability.

The best way to visit the narrow lanes of Saint Louis is by calash, just as locals do, and walk in the fisherman quarters. Take time to stroll in the tiny avenues and enjoy the unique atmosphere of this old town as we attend the main event of the Jazz festival.

Overnight at Hotel de la Poste or similar (BLD)

After a final taste of Saint Louis ambiance, we drive to Lompoul desert.

The Lompoul desert is a small desert (about 18 km2) located 145 km south of Saint Louis. It is characterised by orange sand dunes forming a landscape that is more akin to those of the Sahara and Mauritania than those of the surrounding area of Senegal.

Overnight in a permanent tented camp (Lodge de Lampoul – large tents en-suite with comfortable beds)

Our journey continues to the Ferlo Desert to discover the arid region where the nomadic Fulani tribes herd large droves of zebu. The Fulani (also called Peurl) are the largest nomadic tribe roaming the West African Savannahs and they are found in a vast area from Senegal to Chad. Their origins are still covered with mystery. In the afternoon a local guide will join us for a visit to the neighbouring villages and shelters. When the herds come back, we might be invited to witness the milking process.

Overnight at a camp made up of simple grass huts, managed by a local entrepreneur (all rooms with beds, mosquito nets, and en-suite). (BLD)

The rarely visited holy town of Tuba (Touba) is the perfect place to appreciate the hospitality of an African brotherhood. Tuba inhabitants follow Muridism and the town itself is a sort of theocratic “state within the state”, ruled by a Caliph. The founder of Mouridi brotherhood was a Sufi named Amhadou Bàmba Mbake.

Amhadou Bàmba founded Touba in 1887. The holy site remained a tiny, isolated place in the wilderness until his death and burial at the site of the Great Mosque, 40 years later. The Great Mosque was finally completed in 1963 and since its inauguration, the city has grown at a rapid pace: from under 5,000 inhabitants in 1964, the population was officially estimated at 529,000 in 2007.

The Murids have a large social and economic impact in Senegal: thanks to their vision of Islam, Muridism, with other brotherhoods following the cult of Marabouts, has become the bastion that protects Senegal from radical Islam.

Murids welcome any interest in their traditions. Yet since Tuba is a sacred town, all visitors should accept traditional rules. Therefore, we must apply a considerate dress code: no smoking, no drinking alcohol and no listening to music during the visit. If we follow these rules, we will be welcomed. A Baye Fall, a member of a colourful branch of Muridism, will accompany us during the visit.

We then continue to Dakar for teh evening.

Overnight Hotel Djoloff or simialr (BLD)

We will be attending the fourteenth edition of the Dakar Biennale, where we experience local artists creating, imagining and inventing.  The official selection, in line with the orientations of the Artistic Direction, will highlight the works of 59 visual artists and artists’ collectives. They come from Africa and its diaspora. According to Dr El Hadji Malick Ndiaye, Artistic Director of the 2022 Edition, the theme is an “exhortation to create a new common destiny, a future together”.

We will explore and attend various events.

Overnight Hotel Djoloff or similar (BLD)

We attend events in and around the Biennale before trabnsfering to the airport later in the evening. We have rooms for day-use up untill 18.00 (all rooms en-suite and with air-conditioned). (BL)

Dates & Price.

Tour Notes

Flights in to Dakar start from £620 return.

We include airport transfers in the price of your tour if you are arriving on the first day and leaving on the last day of the advertised itinerary. These will be provided by our local representative or on occasions by the hotel used for the first and last nights of the tour. When the transfer is provided by the hotel this will often be via a shared shuttle bus operated by the hotel. If you are planning to arrive before the start date, and/or leave after the end date of the tour, Undiscovered Destinations can arrange private transfers at an additional cost. Please check with us at the time of booking.

Please note that if you have arranged extra pre and/or post tour accommodation, either through Undiscovered Destinations or directly with the hotel or an agent, airport transfers are not included in the price of your tour. Please contact us if you would like Undiscovered Destinations to arrange private airport transfers at an additional cost.

For expert advice get in touch now with our passionate,
well-travelled team.

+44(0) 191 296 2674 from THE UK
1-800-614-2967 from THE US & CANADA
1-300-956-415 from AUSTRALIA

Tour inclusions.

  • Arrival and departure transfers provided on a shared or private basis depending on location. On occasions the transfer will be operated by a hotel shuttle bus (*please see notes below)
  • All accommodation
  • Transport as described
  • Services of English speaking guide / tour leader (there may be more than one guide with the group and the explanations may be in additional languages)
  • Meals as listed (B – Breakfast, L – Lunch, D – Dinner)
  • Entrance fees for sites listed as part of the itinerary

Tour exclusions.

  • International flights
  • Any airport taxes
  • Travel Insurance
  • Visas
  • Drinks
  • Tips (discretionary)
  • Items of a personal nature

Download PDF.

Download the full tour dossier for this trip here.

A very enjoyable time. Our guide Francesca was excellent, she was on top of all the arrangements. I was really impressed. The itinerary was great and really saw unusual and interesting things every day. Particularly loved the Bijagos Islands, at the full moon saw green turtles nesting, laying eggs and babies hatching and running to the sea.

Pamela Stubing, USA