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Benin travel guide

Tiny Benin, a thin sliver of West Africa, packs a big punch. Come to Benin for voodoo ceremonies, fetish markets, friendly locals and truly wild national parks

You won’t forget Benin in a hurry. The birthplace of voodoo and home to the slave trade for almost 300 years, tiny, little-known Benin is a fascinating place to visit. Economic capital Cotonou is a bustling city: come here to haggle at the markets and bump and grind in its nightclubs. Travel a few hours out of town and you’ll be in Ganvié where local fishermen live in bamboo huts on stilts over the lake. Loll on one of the palm dotted beaches that line the Atlantic coast and visit the Parc Regional du W: one of the best wildlife parks in West Africa.

Wanderlust recommends

  1. Discover the magic and mystery of the state religion – voodoo
  2. Visit the Dantokpa Market, Cotonou, which has a compelling yet macabre fetish section
  3. Sail out to Ganvié, a floating stilted town on Lake Nakoué
  4. Lounge on the stunning, deserted, palm-fringed beaches at Grand Popo on the Bight of Benin
  5. Spot elephants, cheetah, buffalo and lion at the Pendjari National Park, one of West Africa’s prime game reserves

Wanderlust tips

Find a local guide with an ear to the ground if you want to find a non-touristy voodoo ceremony. Note that the beaches are only safe for paddling as dangerous currents make the water unsafe for swimming. Pack a torch if you’re coming to Benin – there’s not a whole lot of street lighting.

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