2025 Chatfield Senegal Explorer Program

Dear Families, Friends, and Travelers – Welcome to the 2025 Chatfield Senegal Cultural Journey! To learn the basics about this once in a lifetime opportunity, you'll begin by using the Pre-Enrollment page, the purpose of which is to share exciting highlights and important info that participants will want to know before signing up. If you enroll, you'll begin using the Post-Enrollment page  which offers a greater level of detail.  Please be sure to review the information thoroughly and get excited for Senegal!
Travel Dates: June 10, 2025 - June 19, 2025
Dates are tentative
Group Organizer(s):
WTT Contact:
Program Tuition: $3,690 USD
Airfare not included in program tuition
Estimated Airfare: $1,500

What to Expect

Please read through all of the information below. More details will be added as your departure draws closer.

Itinerary

We do everything possible to run safe, engaging, and immersive programs for our travelers and given the unpredictable nature of international travel we must remain flexible in our planning. Changes to a schedule are uncommon but, we reserve the right to adjust programming in the best interest of the group. 

DayLocationDescriptionLodging
1USA - SenegalThe adventure begins! Board your overnight flight headed to Dakar, Senegal.Airplane
2DakarAfter arriving to Diass Blaise Diagne International Airport this afternoon, we will transfer to our hotel in Dakar and check in. We'll have an orientation meeting and discuss what to expect on our upcoming adventure together before our welcome dinner.Dakar Hotel
3DakarThis morning we will take a guided city tour of Dakar, visiting the Place de l'Indépendance, the city center and the African Renaissance Monument. We'll also stop at Soumbédioune Market and have lunch at a local restaurant. This afternoon we will visit Ngor Island, Dakar's most relaxing and beautiful places just a short boat ride from the coast. We'll have time to relax on the beach and give surfing a try.Daar Hotel
4Dakar - Gorée IslandWe will spend most of this day touring Goree Island; just a few miles from the city, this was the departure point for millions of Africans during the centuries-long slave trade. This can be very sobering, but is vitally important to try and understand. We'll explore the island with a local guide and, visit the castle for a panoramic view of the island. We'll stay the night on the island and enjoy a Senegalese dinner together.Gorée Island Hotel
5Gorée Island - Lac RoseThe day begins with breakfast, followed by a departure for Lac Rose. We'll travel via the Noflaye turtle village, a special botanical reserve showcasing medicinal plants. World-famous for its beauty, Lake Retba turns a stunning pink when the sun reaches its zenith. Separated from the Atlantic Ocean by sand dunes, the lake's high salt content makes everything buoyant. In a specially adapted vehicle, we will witness the traditional salt extraction methods used by the local people. The afternoon offers a thrilling quad bike ride through the Pink Lake dunes. Weather permitting, witness a magnificent sunset from the dunes.Lac Rose Hotel
6Lac Rose - Lompoul Desert LodgeToday we depart for the Lompoul Desert Lodge, where students will have the chance to explore this region of orange sands, ride camels and camp beneath the stars. The lodge is located about three hours from Dakar, but feels like it's on another planet! Students will camp along the sand dunes in very comfortable tents with running water, mattresses and even carpeting. This evening, we will gather around a campfire and enjoy some first-class stargazing, good food and mint tea.Lompoul Desert Lodge
7Lompoul - SomoneAfter breakfast, depart for the Petite Côte. This charming coastline is dominated in some areas by Senegal's emblematic tree, the majestic baobab. We'll have time to browse the local crafts in Mekhe, a town renowned for its shoemaking, or Lalane, famous for its beautiful basketry. Enjoy lunch on the route before continuing to La Somone. Depending on your arrival time, you can relax or embark on a walk through the Somone lagoon. This nature reserve shelters a diverse bird population throughout the year. Join a guided tour of the mangrove swamps to witness pelicans, herons, egrets, and even pink flamingos. You'll also see the lagoon itself and the iconic baobab forest.La Somone Hotel
8Somone - MbourDepart the hotel and head straight for a breathtaking baobab forest arriving to Bandia Reserve. Here, you can observe the unique flora of the Sahel region and immerse yourself in Serer culture. Witness a variety of mammals roaming freely, including buffalo, monkeys, giraffes, gazelles, rhinos, ostriches, and more. The birdlife here is equally impressive. Embark on an off-road safari with a knowledgeable reserve guide to get the most out of your wildlife viewing experience. In the late afternoon, head to Mbour, a vibrant fishing port located near the town's bustling market. Take a stroll along the harbor, witnessing the day's catch being unloaded and the lively atmosphere fueled by fishing activities.La Somone Hotel
9MbourOur final day in Senegal will be spent relaxing poolside at our hotel and taking advantage of our final chance to shop for souvenirs. We'll have a farewell dinner together where we will discuss our favorite memories of the trip.La Somone Hotel
10Dakar - USAFly back to the USAYour own bed, eventually!

Fundraising

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Learn more here.

WTT coffee

Accommodations

In order to provide a safe and memorable experience, we follow strict guidelines when choosing program accommodations. Walking Tree partners with hotels and guest houses which are centrally located, clean and safe.  We vet and inspect the accommodations to ensure they uphold the ethos of our programs, are great values for our travelers and nice places to rest after enriching days of travel.  

Below are the accommodations we anticipate using on your trip, subject to availability. 
La Pierre de Lisse

A small paradise about 45 minutes from Dakar, La Pierre de Lisse is true oasis located on the beach of Toubab Dialaw. Students will stay in private cabanas of stone walls and thatch roofs scattered throughout a large, exotic garden. Internet access throughout in the building keeps everyone feeling connected. Students will be grouped in their rooms according to gender and availability.

Hotel Le Calao du Lac Rose

This lovely, family-run property is a short distance from the international airport near an enchanting pink salt lake. The ocean-front hotel is located on beautiful grounds where students stay in individual cabanas surrounded by flower and tree-lined paths. Free Wi-Fi access throughout the building keeps everyone feeling connected. Students will be grouped in their rooms according to gender and availability.

Group Flight

Once your flight has been confirmed, the itinerary will appear here.

Walking Tree will secure a seat on the group flight for each participant unless otherwise instructed.

Travelers are responsible for checked baggage fees. Please visit the airline’s baggage webpage to learn if you should expect to pay anything.

We will provide a group manifest – complete with reservation codes and ticket numbers – to the Group Organizer/s before departure, and travelers will need to check in at the airport in order to receive their boarding pass and have documents verified. We recommend arriving no later than three hours prior to the scheduled departure, but contact your Group Organizer for specific details on exactly where and when to meet on the day of departure.

FLIGHT INTERRUPTION, DELAY OR CANCELLATION 
Air travel can be unpredictable.  Regardless of proper planning, there may still be instances when a flight is delayed or cancelled due to staffing shortages, weather, mechanical problems, etc.  Please note that in such an event, Walking Tree Travel (WTT) is not financially responsible for unanticipated costs incurred by travelers en route.  Our programs officially begin and end in the destination country, and because our staff doesn’t fly with the group, Group Organizers (the traveling faculty member/s) become the front-line advocate for the group in the event of a delay. In most cases of cancellations or delays, the airline will be the one who re-books travel or possibly arranges a hotel and food the night.  Our primary role will be to  keep families updated and provide support to the Group Organizer to reach a  quick and effective resolution.

Host Community and Project Details

Packing List

Support Team

At a minimum, one experienced Program Leader will travel on every trip. In addition to this full time leadership presence, Walking Tree has additional support staff in all destinations and 24/7 support from our headquarters in Denver, Colorado. Below you’ll find a list of the team members involved in the planning, organizing, and leadership of your program.

Fina Senghor
Fina Senghor
Senegal Country Director


University Gaston Berger of Saint-Louis – M.A Applied Foreign Languages (English and Spanish), Tourism and Conference Interpreting.

Fina was born and raised in Dakar, the capital city of Senegal. Later, due to her passion for languages, she went to Saint-Louis to continue her studies. After her master’s degree in 2008, she joined a British organization arranging trips for foreigners in developing countries around the world. Fina was in charge of welcoming young students to her country, who were coming to help and support local people in hard living conditions. With 9 years of experience working in multicultural environments, she is open-minded and very involved in social action. Furthermore, Fina is a member of cultural and social associations that give priority to the well-being of children and women in Africa.

Luke Mueller
Luke Mueller
Co-Founder of Walking Tree Travel and Business Lead - Denver, CO


Emory University – B.A. Sociology and minor in Latin American History

During college, Luke spent a semester living and traveling in rural Mexico. His experience sparked a fascination with Latin America and a commitment to community service that continues to this day. Upon graduating from college, he joined WorldTeach and lived with a local family in a small village in Costa Rica while teaching elementary English. After this experience, he moved to San José, the capital and largest city of Costa Rica, and wrote for The Tico Times newspaper. Luke has since traveled to over 60 countries on five different continents.  Now settled in Denver with his family, he continues to crave massive helpings of rice and beans.

Group Roster

Below is a list of the travelers enrolled on the program.

Blog and Communication

During travel we will work hard to keep families updated as frequently as possible with blogs and photos, giving you peace of mind that your traveler is safe and thriving on their program.  Students regularly contribute to these posts, giving parents a great way to vicariously track the progress of the trip. You will receive an email notification when the first blog is posted, after which we recommend you check in regularly via the black “Program Blog” button at the top of this page.

Beyond this proactive approach to communication during the trip, most destinations are wired enough to allow participants semi-regular access to WiFi so you can also expect to communicate with your traveler directly. Ask your Walking Tree representative about the degree of connectivity on your program.

 

GLC Curriculum

Walking Tree has developed a curriculum of activities meant to help travelers get the most out of their trip before departure, during travel and after they return home. These simple and engaging activities are meant to spark discussion, frame experiences, and prepare participants to travel ethically and effectively both on this trip and on future adventures.

For more information about student learning objectives and the format of the curriculum, click on the ‘learn more’ button below.

Learn More About the GLC

To view and complete the Pre-Program Activities, visit our online portal at the button below.

Pre-Program Activity Portal

Standards of Behavior

In order to run a safe and successful program, it is important that we create an environment of trust, security and respect. All individuals participating in our programs are required to take responsibility for their actions and adhere to a high standard of behavioral conduct.

ABSOLUTE DISMISSAL

  1.  Possessing, consuming or distributing alcohol or illegal drugs.
  2. Associating with participants while they are in possession of, or are consuming, or distributing alcohol or illegal drugs.
  3. Behaving in a way that consistently damages the group dynamic or jeopardizes personal or group safety.
  4. This includes consistently displaying a negative attitude, intimidating or excluding other participants, sneaking out, disobeying group leaders, and any other behavior that is not conducive to an atmosphere of trust and mutual respect.

GROUNDS FOR DISMISSAL OR IN-COUNTRY CONSEQUENCE

  1. Getting a piercing or tattoo.
  2. Stealing, or deliberately damaging or defacing any personal property, buildings or materials.
  3. Threatening physical or emotional harm, or brandishing a weapon.
  4. Possessing, consuming, or distributing tobacco or nicotine, including vape pens.
  5. Riding mopeds, motorcycles, or any other type of unauthorized vehicle.
  6. Being out of designated area or accommodations after curfew.
  7. Breaking group rules.

These standards of behavior are essential for the successful completion of your program. Please take the time to review these as a family and make sure everyone understands and agrees to them.

Health and Safety

Walking Tree requires all travelers and staff to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 before travel with limited exceptions. We also require proof of a negative COVID test within 72 hours of travel.

We strongly recommend visiting the CDC Senegal website to get the most updated information on health and vaccination considerations in your destination country. In addition, we encourage you to consult with your personal family physician so you can be as informed as possible when making important decisions about vaccinations and other necessary health-related preparations before travel.

Our in-country staff prepare meticulously for all programs. Walking Tree will register our programs and travelers with the U.S. Department of State Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) in case of emergency. In country staff also verify the safety records of our partner organizations, vendors, and transportation providers, thoroughly vet homestay families via in depth interviews and home visits, and keep up on important current events in the region.

Program Leaders are seasoned travelers who are CPR and First Aid certified, undergo thorough training in crisis management, and participate in a multi-day leadership training retreat. We do our best to prepare for any eventuality and have detailed emergency protocols for our leaders, in-country staff and U.S.-based staff.

We receive medical disclosures from all participants to ensure we are able to meet every students’ needs during the program. Please inform us immediately of any additional health issues that you did not list during your initial registration process. Program Leaders will also hold an online information session before your departure, as well as an arrival orientation in-country, in order to give participants important instructions on food safety, hygiene and preventing injury and illness. Leaders and in-country staff always respond immediately to any mental, physical or emotional health issues and follow comprehensive emergency protocols.

Insurance

While we work hard to ensure the safest experience possible for our travelers on program, experience teaches that travel is never without risk. For this reason, we recommend that all travelers consider a travel insurance policy with  two additional provisions: Cancel for Any Reason (CFAR) and Bed Rest. Detailed explanations of both provisions can be found on the link below.

To provide families with a quality option, Walking Tree has partnered with Travel Insured International, one of the most respected providers in the industry.  Begin by getting a quote here.

IMPORTANT NOTE: in order to secure coverage with CFAR included, you must purchase the plan within 21 days of your deposit/first payment. You must also insure 100% of your trip cost, so program tuition + flight.

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