Phare des Mamelles – The White Lighthouse of Dakar, Senegal

Everything you need to know about Phare des Mamelles, the White Lighthouse in Dakar, Senegal. It sits atop the tallest hill in Dakar in the neighborhood of Ouakam and it’s well worth your time to stop in for a visit when you’re in the city.

*On some of the links provided I might make a commission if you purchase something by clicking through my link. This creates no additional cost for you.

How to Visit Phare des Mamelles, the White Lighthouse, and Other Nearby Attractions

Phare des Mamelles is also just across from the famous African Renaissance Monument, so you get a sightseeing two-fer. If you want to triple-size your tourism dreams while you’re in Dakar, add a visit to the Mosque of the Divinity on the beach just a short distance away.

During the day, the lighthouse is a museum and tourist attraction with a restaurant attached. The tour costs 3000 CFA per person ($6 USD) and includes not only the talk, but getting up into the lantern room, if you’re able. The lantern room is very cool.

It’s really fun to go outside on the observation deck up top, but be careful about having anything (like a hat) that can fly away – it’s VERY windy.

At night, the tunes start pumping and the restaurant/bar/nightclub really takes off. Cover charge for the club is 5000 CFA ($10 USD). At night the lighthouse is closed to visitors.

Do you need to book in advance to Phare des Mamelles in Dakar?

You absolutely do not need to book in advance to visit the White Lighthouse of Dakar, Senegal. As of our visit they were requiring people to park at the bottom of the hill and take a shuttle to the top, but other than that slight delay you can go any time they’re open. Only if you want to go as part of a longer city tour would you need to book in advance.

There is also a restaurant next to the Phare des Mamelles where you can get a nice meal with an incredible view. Reservations weren’t necessary when we visited.

What else is there to do near Phare des Mamelles in Dakar, Senegal?

The lighthouse and the African Renaissance Monument sit on the two tallest hills in Dakar and are about a 5-7 minute drive apart, so it’s easy to visit both on the same day. You can also go just a short way down the coast to visit the gorgeous Mosque of the Divinity which sits right on the beach and lies right next to an interesting and picturesque fishing village. It’s an easy sightseeing three-fer.

When is Phare des Mamelles open?

Despite what Google Maps says, know that the lighthouse itself isn’t open to visitors after sunset because it’s busy being a lighthouse. Actual closing time may vary depending on the time of year. You can see it’s beacon from many points in Dakar.

However, the restaurant next to the lighthouse turns into a nightclub and parties all night. Once that happens there’s a cover charge and they won’t even let you step inside the gate to get a little video of the lighthouse in action without paying it. I got some great video anyway from just outside the gate. The shuttle to get to the top is free.

The posted hours are:
Monday: Closed
Tues/Wed: 11:30am – Midnight
Thursday: 11:30am – 2:30am
Friday: 11:30am – 3:30am
Sat/Sun: 9:30am – 3:30am

Video Transcript

Welcome to Phare des Mamelles, the White Lighthouse in Dakar, Senegal

Phare des Mamelles sits atop one of two hills in Dakar. Yes, they saw two hills and that’s what they thought about.

The lighthouse sits on the taller hill while the African Renaissance Monument rests a short distance away atop the slightly shorter one. Both sites are easily accessible by taxi from anywhere in Dakar.

The tower is 16 meters high and houses a museum on the ground floor.

However the museum is not friendly to mobility or visually impaired people. Here, Tim is preparing to go up steps with no railing. We want to give a special thanks to the staff at the museum for their help in getting him inside – and safely back down again.

To visit the lantern room up top the stairs get even narrower and more treacherous, but more on that in a minute. Wait till you see the view.

The French built this lighthouse and it opened in 1864. Dakar’s unique position made the perfect location for a lighthouse for a couple of reasons.

First, it’s the westernmost tip on the African continent.

Second, it’s halfway between Europe and South America, making the voyage for those engaged in the slave trade much easier.

Then however, the French lost Dakar to the Dutch.

In fact, the strategic position of Dakar was so significant that it was occupied by the French, the Dutch, the Portuguese and the British at different times.

The French were the only ones to occupy it twice.

The second time they added some defenses.

<Guide> Here is the initial wall here and here the fortified wall and also they open these small holes. You may think that they are windows maybe, but they are not true windows, they are called morders, or meurtrières in French.

They were used to see the enemy, to watch the enemy before they can see them. And because of the shape, you can see the shape, and they are here. It’s very easy for them to shoot from here, than for the enemy to shoot from the other side because it’s quite wide here and a bit narrow at the end.

<Trina> Right, so you’d aim through there and they can’t hit you.

<Guide> When you’re here you can see yeah when everything happening at sea, but they cannot see you.

Okay, so this is the Fresnal optic of Phare des Mamelles. It consists of four parts, four main parts. The first is the light source, meaning the bulb. From here you can see it. Can you see it?

<Trina> Yes, I can see it.

<Guide> This is the bulb, meaning the light source of the lighthouse. But when it’s on, the light source is on, there will be the reaction of these first lenses. These are called the converging lenses.

<Trina> Converging?

<Guide> Converging lenses, yeah. They don’t diffuse the light but they keep the light intense in in the optic. And after there will be the reaction of this one. These are called the diverging lenses. This will diffuse the light in a radius of 53 kilometers. This is the range.

There are two parts here. The difference is up and the other, down. Here is for the beams for planes, beams for planes, and here beams for boats.

Here is what is called the dead angle. This cuts off the light at night when the lighthouse rotates. When you’re here, the circle is passing so you can see the light right and right after you’re gonna have an angle and then you stop saying the light for five seconds.

This is the code of the lighthouse. One beam of light every five seconds, one beam of light every five seconds. This is the code.

In West Africa this is the only one that has this code.

<Narration> Let’s watch that beautiful lens in action.

Oh, and here’s that gorgeous view I promised you.

If you’re in Dakar, make time to come see Phare des Mamelles for yourself and watch this video next.

Team Hazard

Old, fat and disabled and traveling the world anyway. Join Trina and Tim as they wander around the planet bringing you honest stories about the people and places they encounter.

View all posts

Add comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Join Me!


Follow Me

Free E-Book!

How to Save Money for Travel –

on Almost ANY Budget! 

Free eBook - Cover shot

Click HERE

to get your FREE e-book.