2014 Simpson College Senegal Travel Course

Welcome to the official homepage for the Simpson College Senegal Travel Course! This is where you will be able to find answers to many of your questions regarding our upcoming adventure. Please refer to the below information to see what you can expect going forward and let us know if you have any questions.

Dates: May 6-22, 2014
Cost: $4615 per student*
*Price includes the international flight form Iowa, all accommodations, 3 meals/day, ground transportation, group activity and entry fees, donations to service projects, Simpson college fees, taxes and tips. **Price excludes baggage fees, entry visa to Senegal, souvenirs and other shopping, or activities not listed on the itinerary inclusive

Simpson Contact: Sharon Wilkinson
Email: sharon.wilkinson@simpson.edu

Walking Tree Representative: Luke Mueller
Email: luke@walkingtree.org
Phone: 303-898-5135
Address: PO Box 18636 Denver CO 80218

How to Register: Travelers will need to register first with Simpson College via this link.

Senegal Travel Guide


The ocean breeze of Senegal is lucky. It carries the animated French and Wolof from its people, the vibrant tones of West Africa’s best music, and the exotic aroma of local cuisine. It travels from the pulsing metropolis of Dakar, through beachside palms to French colonial islands, pink lakes, game parks, and colorful communities. Simpson College students will enjoy the ride as they improve their French, travel this fascinating nation, and most importantly, spend time volunteering on service projects along side Peace Corps Volunteers that could include construction, HIV/Aids education, and reforestation, among other possibilities.

Senegal Video

To better understand the experience you can expect, watch this video.

Group Flight

Our group flight leaves from Des Moines (DSM) at 11:25am on May 6, 2014. In order to ensure that we are together and have plenty of time for any unforeseen complications, please be at DSM at 8:30am on May 6! We will meet at the Delta check in desk inside where your professor will be waiting. The group flight information is as follows:DEPARTURE FROM USA

Airline: Delta
Flight: 4932
Date: May 6, 2014
Departs: Des Moines, (DSM), 11:23am
Arrives: Atlanta, (ATL), 2:23pm

—connects to—

Airline: Delta
Flight: 478
Date: May 6, 2014
Departs: Atlanta, (ATL), 5:45pm
Arrives: New York, (JFK), 8:13pm

—connects to—

Airline: Delta
Flight: 416
Date: May 6, 2013
Departs: New York, (JFK), 9:38pm
Arrives: Dakar, (DKR), 9:25am on 5/7


Airline: Air France
Flight: 719
Date: May 21, 2014
Departs: Dakar, (DKR), 10:20pm
Arrives:Paris, (CDG), 6:10am on 5/22

—Connects to—

Airline: Delta
Flight: 43
Date: May 22, 2014
Departs: Paris, (CDG), 8:30am
Arrives: Atlanta, (ATL), 12:13pm

—Connects to—

Airline: Delta
Flight: 2605
Date: May 22, 2014
Departs: Atlanta, (CDG), 3:13pm
Arrives: Des Moines, (DSM), 4:19pm

A Note on Flights
Air travel is unpredictable. Although we can ensure that our groups arrive to the airport with ample time and follow all airline instructions, there may still be instances when a flight is delayed or cancelled due to weather, mechanical problems, labor strikes, the whim of the airline etc.In such an event Walking Tree is not financially responsible for unexpected costs incurred by travelers but for this and other reasons we recommend travelers consider a travel insurance policy. Regardless, please know that should flight delays/cancellations occur we will do everything we can to get students home in a timely manner and will do our best to keep family members updated on developments. Finally, Walking Tree is no responsible for fees associated with checked baggage.

To read more about Delta’s baggage policy please click here

Simpson College Program Itinerary

Date Day Location Activity Lodging
May 6 Tuesday USA/ Dakar, Senegal Travel Plane
May 7 Wednesday Dakar Arrive Dakar, travel to hotel for rest and orientation meeting Hotel Calao
May 8 Thursday Dakar Tour city and visit with Peace Corps officials in Dakar Hotel Calao
May 9 Friday Dakar Guided tour of Goree Island Hotel Calao
May 10 Saturday Dakar & Host Community Travel, arrive village, place students with host families, meet with Peace Corps volunteers in area and possibly begin service work Homestays
May 11 Sunday Host Community Service Projects and village activities Homestays
May 12 Monday Host Community Service Projects and village activities Homestays
May 13 Tuesday Host Community Service Projects and village activities Homestays
May 14 Wednesday Host Community Service Projects and village activities Homestays
May 15 Thursday Host Community Service Projects and village activities Homestays
May 16 Friday Host Community Finish service work, going away party Homestays
May 17 Saturday Host Community and Mbour Depart village, travel, arrive coast and relax Hotel Pierre de Lisse
May 18 Sunday Mbour, Bandia National Park Safari! Tour park by jeep with English-speaking guide Hotel Pierre de Lisse
May 19 Monday Mbour, Dakar Day at the beach, travel back to Dakar in the evening Hotel Calao
May 20 Tuesday Dakar Visit local markets, final dinner Hotel Calao
May 21 Wednesday Dakar and USA Day free in Dakar, night time departure Airplane
May 22 Thursday USA Arrive back to Des Moins Your own bed!

Participant Roster

Please double check that your name appears below EXACTLY as it does on your passport and write luke@walkingtree.org with any corrections.Sharon Elaine Wilkinson
Megan Marie Miller
Tricia Kay Ingram
Hannah Kingsley Carlson
Lauren Elizabeth Doocy
Hannah Nichol Clark
Cassandra Paul Nemmers
Natasha Ann Shehade
Joella Cheyenne Hanes
Natalia Marie Roads
Cort Isaak Singleton
Jessica Evelyn Lamb
Celena Faith Krause

Destination Descriptions

Were it possible, Dakar would overflow its urban boundaries and spill out across this West African nation, filling its fields, mountains and beaches with the vibrant life on display here every day. The music, food, traffic, markets, mosques, art festivals and film seem to have Dakar bursting at her seams. We will take time to meet with American Embassy and Peace Corps officials, relax on a beautiful beach, and spend a day on Goree Island, the departure point for millions of African slaves during three and a half centuries.

Community Service and the Homestay
Our time in a Senegalese host community is the heart and soul of our visit to West Africa. Our most likely placement will be a rural community that runs along a 17km peninsula on the most southern stretches of Senegal’s Petite Côte. To the West are the sandy beaches skirting the expanse of the Atlantic Ocean. Located to the East is the protected National Reserve de Palmarin, a patchwork delta consisting of mangrove channels, salt flats, grass lands and forest. This unique combination of habitat supports a wide assortment of plant and animal life. The dominant industries in the area are traditional fishing and tourism. Other smaller industries include salt, oyster and clam harvesting. The dominant ethnic group in the area is Sereer, speaking French but also a distinct Soloum area dialect. Wolof is also widely used.

Because of a unique partnership between Walking Tree and the Peace Corps, Simpson participants will work with PC volunteers already active in the community for many years. This relationship immediately provides us access to a village that has been a safe and friendly home to volunteers for a long while. Travelers will live with local families and spend their days working hard on a wide range of service projects- more specific information regarding the details of the service work will become available as departure draws near.

Note on Living conditions: We are very fortunate to have the opportunity to live with local families. With that in mind, conditions in the homes are quite simple and travelers need to be prepared to encounter a standard of living they may not be familiar with. Students will most likely be living in a compound of family huts and may or may not share a room with a same-sex Senegalese sibling (we do have the option of placing students in pairs). All homes have cement floors but only a few have electricity and no home has indoor plumbing. Conditions are clean and comfortable but amenities we grow accustomed to in the States are few and far between.

Bandia National Park
With famous giant baobab trees for as far as the eye can see and situated along the well-watered banks of the Somone River, Bandia National Park boasts an amazingly rich ecosystem filled with animal and plant life. Rhinoceros, giraffe, chimpanzees, herds of elephant and hippopotamus, large antelope, and a wide variety of reptiles and birds make this small park a must see destination. For those interested in photography, the wildlife of the area make a wonderful subject and promise to open our eyes even further to the beauty and splendor of Senegal.

Health Considerations

Recommendations for vaccines for travel to Senegal include: Yellow Fever, Hepatitis A, Typhoid, and meningococcal vaccine in addition to medication for malaria. Two good options for malaria medications are Doxycycline, which costs about $.10/pill and must be taken daily and then a month after return from Senegal AND Malarone, which costs about $6/pill and must be taken daily during travel and then one week after return. Finally, on the heels of all necessary immunizations students should be given an International Certificate of Vaccination or other official documentation the acts as proof when entering Senegal that any required shots have been received. We strongly encourage all families to consult your local travel clinic and/or family physician for specific advice for your child and the most up to date information about travel to Senegal.A final note on water: we fully understand that many health concerns begin with clean drinking water. As such, all host families have been instructed to boil any water used for drinking or in food preparation and students will be encouraged to travel with iodine tablets and/or other cleansing agents. Walking Tree will ensure that there is ALWAYS an ample supply of clean drinking water throughout our program, much of which will be bottled.

Travel Insurance

Our experience has taught us that travel can be unpredictable. As such, we strongly recommend that our participants purchase a separate travel insurance policy that helps to cover them financially in the event of an unforeseen complication or mishap. Coverage for emergency medical evacuation, medical expenses if you get sick or injured, lost luggage/delays, travel delays, lost travel document replacement and trip cancellation are basic tenets of any good policy.While we encourage you to research all options available, we have had good experiences with the International Volunteer Card. It is discounted insurance exclusively for volunteers and underwritten by TravelGuard, the largest travel insurance provider in the US.Medical doctors are available 24/7 through a free international phone number and personnel can assist in everything from flight and luggage delays, to emergency situations. All their coverage has no deductible and covers you for multiple trips – up to 180 days of travel in a given year.

Trip cancellation is an additional option. It covers your trip being canceled for natural disasters, organizational failure, debilitating sickness or tragedy preventing you from going on the trip. You can also purchase this through the Volunteer Card. An additional benefit for the Volunteer Card is they offer 100,000 discounts for volunteer travelers.

There are different plans to choose from but their Individual Plus plan covers the following and only costs $35:

$25,000 Accident Medical Expense
$25,000 Sickness Medical Expense
$300,000 Emergency Medical Transportation
$25,000 Repatriation of Remains
$300 Travel Delay
$1,000 Baggage & Personal Effects
$150 Travel Document Replacement
$100 Baggage Delay

To view more details regarding these plans, please visit http://www.volunteercard.com/ and please get in touch directly with Katie Olson from Volunteer Card at 952.886.7685 or kolson@volunteercard.com with any questions.

Leader Profile

James Riley, Program Leader

James Riley B.A. French and History, Middlebury College, University of Minnesota Studies in International Development, Dakar, Senegal James is thrilled to be leading his third program with Walking Tree. He first travelled to Senegal for a work-study experience after graduating from Middlebury College with a degree in French and History. Living with a local family, James interned with a rural development NGO while he studied the Wolof language at the West African Research Center, volunteered at agricultural development projects, and surfed frequently. After returning in 2010, James worked as a teacher in New York for two years, leading programs and traveling abroad in the summer, and studying Wolof and international development topics at Columbia University and CUNY. He has since completed a Masters degree in Mechanical Engineering at Boston University, which he hopes to apply in development programs abroad.

Hassana Hedrick Diallo, Walking Tree Senegal Country Director

Hassana Hedrick Diallo
Walking Tree Senegal Country Director Hassana Hedrick Diallo was born in the rural community of Dindefelo, in southeastern Senegal and lived there until the age of 10, when he was adopted by Peace Corps Volunteers who had served in his village and who brought him back to the States. He learned English and attended The Maret School in D.C. before graduating from Olympia High School, eventually earning a degree in business management and entrepreneurship from The Evergreen State College.

All the while in the United States, he returned every year or two to Senegal, never losing his native languages or his connection with Senegalese culture. After graduating from college, he worked in two positions in Washington state government, focused on customer relations and training. In 2008, a year after his father returned to Senegal to become the Peace Corps Country Director, he also returned to Senegal to start a new venture, focused on the agricultural supply chain, which now employs 6 people. While doing this, he has worked with and mentored several Peace Corps Volunteers in the Kedougou region. Hassana has traveled throughout West Africa and some parts of Europe. He speaks English, French, Pulaar and Wolof.

Suggested Packing List

As you are packing please use judgment when deciding what to bring. Understand that we will be traveling hard and getting dirty. It is advisable that you don’t bring your favorite/most valuable possessions with you. Many people choose to leave/donate a lot of what they bring. Also, we will be moving throughout the country and while you are welcome to bring what you like, you will be expected to carry it. Put essentials like medication and certain toiletries in your carry-on in case of lost luggage. You are responsible for any baggage fees that the airline charges, so we recommend bringing a week’s worth of clothes. There will be the occasional opportunity for you to wash your clothes, but note that neither a washer or dryer are likely to be involved.

What follows is a guideline, but you know yourself better than we do so please modify as you see fit (for example, Gabriel Duncan, Walking Tree Director, wears the same lacrosse tank top most days for service work). We recommend you bring a larger piece of luggage like a backpack, roller or duffel bag and a smaller backpack that you can bring on hikes, excursions and shorter activities.

Most importantly, don’t forget your passport!

NOTE: Social norms in Palmarin are quite conservative, particularly in regard to female dress. Please note that when in public (but not while working or in your room) women are expected to keep their knees, and preferably shoulders, covered. Many female travelers either choose to always wear light-wight pants or to wrap a sarong-like cloth garment around their waist, easily purchased in Dakar.

8-10 pairs of underwear
8-10 pairs of socks
6-7 t-shirts or work shirts, preferably light-weight
2 long sleeve shirts, preferably light-weight
1 light-weight rain jacket
1 pair of rain pants (optional)
3-4 pairs of athletic/work shorts
2-4 pairs of comfortable/work pants
1-2 pair of soccer socks, for working in fields where bugs an issue
1 nice outfit to be worn at community gathering or final dinner
1 swimsuit
1 pair of sturdy shoes or boots (appropriate for hiking/athletic activity)
1 pair of sports sandals ie Chacos/Tevas etc.
1 pair flip flops (optional)

Bring the BASIC toiletries you need plus:
Sunscreen (you will use a lot)
Mosquito repellent (you will use a lot)
Soap and shampoo
Laxatives and Pepto Bismol
Band aids and Neosporin
Hand Sanitizer

Dietary and protein supplement (energy bars, daily vitamins)
Travel pillow and light-weight sleep sack
1 pair of work gloves
1-2 hats
Journal and pen
Alarm Clock and watch
Visa/MasterCard debit card or US dollars (we recommend students bring between $100-$200, depending on amount of desired souvenirs, extra items etc.)
Charcoal filter water bottle
Iodine tablets or other water filtration system
Host family gift
French/English dictionary

Electrical Concerns: Senegal uses the standard European non-grounded socket, the most common in the world. Senegal has 220 volt electricity, but almost all modern cameras/computers/ipods are dual voltage so a converter shouldn’t be necessary. Check your device in question to make sure.