Benin is mostly known for being the birthplace of Voodoo. This West-African country is a compelling destination to visit for it is a tiny land brimming with pristine beaches, stunning wildlife, and historic monuments. Benin is extremely tourist-friendly and has several attractions to visit which will keep visitors occupied for several days.
If you're a wild-life enthusiast, be sure to visit the Pendjari National Park which spans over 2,75,000 hectares. Home to a wide range of animals, tourists can go on a wild-life safari to catch a glimpse of the animals. Feel free to get lost amidst the gushing waterfalls, beautiful green landscape and accessible pathways, all of which comes across as a breather from the concrete jungle. One can also visit the W National Park. It is named as such because it shaped like a 'W'. The park is renowned for its large mammals including aardvarks, baboons, buffalo, cheetahs, bush elephants, African leopards, West African lions and many more. The area is also well-known for its bird population, particularly the transitory migrating species with over 350 species spotted in the park.
History aficionados will love touring the Royal Palaces of Abomey. Constructed between the 17th and the 19th centuries, this UNESCO World Heritage Site is home to some of the final remnants of West Africa's fragile past. Be sure to visit the Abomey Historical Museum which offers insight into the fallen kingdom of Dahomey. Several exhibitions encompass the rise and fall of the elite and several relics such as the throne made from human skulls and so forth are showcased. It strives to enlighten folks about how Benin was once upon a time. Nearby, there is a Fetish Temple and a local art center which sells traditional handicrafts.
Want to learn more about the slave history in Benin? Then head over to Slave Route - a 2.5 mile stretch of heritage road. This is the place where slaves were put up before being sent to the Caribbean and Americans. There are several highlights from this street which showcases how slaves were treated such as the Slave Auction, the Tree of Forgetting where slaves had to perform a ritual where they were made to forget their homeland, Zomai cabin, a small dark enclosure which was believed to get the slaves accustomed to harsh conditions aboard the ships and the monument on Ouidah Beach - the slave's point of departure known as the Point of No Return.
Don't forget to visit the Temple of the Sacred Python where the serpent deity Dangbe is worshipped in several cultures in Benin and thus the serpent is considered to be holy and is highly respected and protected. Visitors will have a pay a small fee to see the dozens of pythons housed inside as well as take a picture with the serpent draped around their neck. To catch a glimpse of the quintessential village life of Benin, take a trip to Ganvie Lake Village and stroll past the traditional homes on stilts. In contrast to the rustic villages are the major cities such as Cotonou and the capital Porto Novo which are cosmopolitan in nature.
When it comes to shopping, there are several stalls selling handicrafts and souvenirs in metropolises such as Cotonou. Be sure to visit the Dan Tokpa market from the Cotonou Lagoon for it is packed with as many goods from Nigeria and elsewhere, as well as traditional medicines and artefacts. Some of the popular ones to be bought are ritual masks, tapestries, elongated statues and pottery. As for cuisine, some of the dishes worth sampling are Akpan (corn dumplings, dipped in a sauce) and Amiwo (red corn dough, usually prepared with tomato puree, onion and peppers and served with a sauce).
The stay options in Benin are abundant with the millionaires who can afford an extravagant lifestyle opting for the best luxury hotels and private apartments as well as those who are light on the pocket preferring to stay put at cheap but comfortable accommodations.
Benin experiences a tropical climate with three time distinct seasons. The most favourable time for tourists to visit the country would be between December and March. The rest of the year is hot, humid and occasionally rainy.