Bustling with nearly 1 million Senegalese and seemingly as many Renaults, Dakar is the capital of a country of marshes, low-rolling plains, rivers, peanuts (the primary crop) and drought. The city sits on the Cape Verde Peninsula at the tip of Africa's westernmost bulge.

Dakar has more than its share of traffic circles, wide boulevards, daring taxi drivers and tiny mosques. It's a sophisticated capital, with many remnants of its colonial era -- good French restaurants, modern office buildings, expensive hotels, fancy nightclubs, busy marketplaces, boutiques and public squares.

GETTING THERE: Air Afrique flies nonstop to Dakar Tuesdays and Saturdays from New York. Air France (212-247-0100 or 800-237-2747) in New York is the booking agent. Pan Am serves the same route on Mondays and Thursdays. Round-trip economy fare on both airlines is $1,514. If you purchase your ticket one month in advance and stay 13 to 45 days, the fare is $992 round trip.

WHERE TO STAY: At present there are no hotels on Gore'e Island. For information on accommodations in Dakar, contact your travel agent or Air France.

TOURS: Tour packages are being offered from Washington for $865 to $915 per person, including round-trip air fare and accommodations at one of several hotels in Dakar. Among Washington agents handling the tours are Gant Travel (296-4670) and Rodgers Travel (723-7100). From New York, Magical Holidays (212-486-9600) has similar packages for $749 to $899.