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Keur Yakaar, the hotel & restaurant that trains young locals in the tourism business

After having left from Senegal already, one of the sweetest memories I have from this trip I have to say it’s definitely my stay at Keur Yakaar, even if when I was in the plane on the way there I still had no idea what this was at all.

Instead of quickly compressing the idea in a bunch of words, I will just start saying that this is no ordinary restaurant or hotel, and you will get to begin to realize it when you know that Keur Yakaar in Wolof language means “hope’s house“.


    Free tourism studies for young people from rural communities

Its name is so because this place trains local kids, aged between 18 and 26, in the tourism business. The formation lasts two years, and they learn about cooking, housekeeping and serving. They combine theoretical and practical classes and Tuesday and Thursday evening, they take care of the menu that is served in their restaurant. They split into two big groups and one of them handles the cooking and the other one the serving, and the following evening they switch their work, so both groups can practice inside and outside of the kitchen.

Here the cooking and the serving team of one the evenings

The classes start in October and last until July, and the other two months of the year, August & September, they have internships in local restaurants and hotels. So by the time they finish their studies, most of them have experience enough to get jobs in the tourism business, which is really strong in Mbour area, where Keur Yakaar is located.

And by far the best thing about all this is that these local kids don’t have to pay anything for the formation since all costs are covered between the hotel & restaurant profit and the help of the NGO “Tourism For Help”.

    The hotel and the restaurant

You will find this beautiful project grown into reality located in the quiet and charming seaside town of Somone, in the Petite-Côte area, only 15 kilometers away from Mbour.

Right after the main entrance, you will find the reception and the kitchen next to the bar/dining room. There are 6 air-conditioned rooms divided into two buildings. The rooms are really big, cozy and all of them have an ensuite bathroom. They also have two entrance doors: one that connects the room to the dining room and another one that brings you to a private little terrace, in front of the pool if you are lucky.

In the common areas, you will find a library, the office of the director and also some sofas with a flat-screen TV. There is also free Wi-Fi that covers the whole building and part of the outdoor areas.

Outside, right behind this main building, there is the swimming pool with deckchairs. There is also a sports field, the class where the kids have their lessons and also a vegetarian garden where they cultivate their own carrots, turnips, peppers, lettuces and mint, among others.

This is what these kids are capable of!

You will have your free buffet breakfast included in your stay, and for lunch and dinner, you will be able to ask from a quite varied menu. Think also to go and try the set menu prepared by the kids on Tuesday and Thursday’s evening, that costs only 4.000 CFA (6€) and you will get a starter, a main course and a dessert, cooked and served by themselves.

    My stay at Keur Yakaar

I stayed a few days with them taking pictures of the place and the students, speaking Spanish and English with some of them so they could improve their knowledge of these two languages, and speaking a lot about our lives and cultures, and I have to say that I couldn’t have enjoyed it more.

On the one hand, the students are so keen, curious and happy to speak with you and on the other one, the workers are really pleasant, careful and professional.

I would like to thank them all for making my short stay unforgettable, specially to Salymata, Bintou and Aliou, three workers who by the way are old students of Keur Yakaar, and Emile, the responsible.

Saying goodbye to Saly, Aliou and Bintou!

The project has been growing since it started in 2014, where the training plan was much shorter and they had many fewer students, and they work hard every day to make it even better and give these local kids a chance to have a job in the tourism sector. So if you go to Somone, even if you don’t stay there, think about going and having a drink or a meal at Keur Yakaar and help this beautiful project to keep moving further.

If you want to know more about them, you can check their website or follow them on Facebook and Instagram.

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