The birthplace of voodoo and a pivotal platform of the slave trade for nearly three centuries, Benin is steeped in a rich and complex history still very much in evidence across the country.
A visit to this small, club-shaped nation could therefore not be complete without exploring the Afro-Brazilian heritage of Ouidah, Abomey and Porto Novo, learning about spirits and fetishes.
But Benin will also wow visitors with its natural beauty, from the palm-fringed beach idyll of the Atlantic coast to the rugged scenery of the north. The Parc National de la Pendjari is one of the best wildlife parks in West Africa. Lions, cheetahs, leopards, elephants and hundreds of other species thrive here.
In fact, Benin is wonderfully tourist friendly compared to most of its neighbours. There are good roads, a wide range of accommodation options and ecotourism initiatives that offer travellers the chance to delve deeper into Beninese life. Now is an ideal time to go because the country sits on the cusp of discovery.
West Africa's best wildlife parks
Everyone knows about the great national parks of eastern and southern Africa – Masai Mara, Kruger and Serengeti all conjure up images of majestic landscapes, packs of lions lazing in the shade and herds of elephants r...
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Voodoo Festival: tips to experiencing the voodoo that they do in Benin
'Voudoun Festival, Ouidah, Benin' by tlongacre. Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs This is an excerpt from Lonely Planet's A Year of Festivals. Location: Ouidah, Benin...
The voodoo priests, kings and ghosts of Benin
Wills and Kate didn’t invite you to their big day? Don’t be down heartened. Instead let us tell you about a place where royalty –as well as a few village-building crocodiles – will be happy to entertain you...