Don't Miss Places In Benin
Togo’s twin on the great bulge of the West African coastline is Benin (called Dahomey until 1975). Its new name was taken from a West African kingdom centered in the Nigerian rain forests during the 1500s. About 60 different races live here today. Like Togo, Benin was ravaged by the slave trade from the 1600s onward until the time when the Europeans first arrived. During the 1800s, palm oil became a more important trade than slavery and the French established coastal trading posts. Benin became a French colony in 1904 and France remains its main trading partner.
In the south, sandy beaches shield lagoons that give way to a highly populated belt of farmland called Terre de Barre where much of the rain forest has been cleared. The central plateaus drain into the Oueme River. In the northwest lie the Atacora Mountains where sheep and cattle are herded. The country has few natural resources although there is offshore oil production, cotton, palm oil, and cocoa are exported from Cotonou.
The years after independence in 1960 were chaotic, with control being tossed between civilian government and the army. From 1972, Benin followed communist policies under the military leadership of Mathieu Kerekou. He was defeated by Nicephore Soglo in the first-ever democratic elections held in 1991.
A country that is famous for its coastal lagoons, these are the not to be missed places in Benin.
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Bab's Dock is located between Cotonou and Ouidah and it is an ideal place for having a drink with friends, listen to music and relax. It is one of the first places to check out when on tour of Benin. It is a peninsula surrounded by water where you can do kayaking, rent a small boat, swim, and sunbathe on the dock. The food is excellent here and even the monkeys and donkeys are nice. You can get there through a tunnel in the mangroves and be greeted by a warm welcome from its staff. The ride in the mangroves is superb. A heavenly and relaxing, treat and a good way to rest from the hustle and bustle of Cotonou.
For frequent visitors it is an island paradise in the heart of the lagoon. Bab’s Dock is equipped with pleasant surroundings with various water activities for the whole family or friends complete with an original menu recalling the sweetness of France.
Upon arrival you will be treated for a real break and receive a very warm welcome from the master and mistress of the house. It is frequented by its rich cosmopolitan clienteles, a guaranteed scenery that is very different from other local attractions, and you cannot imagine where or what to expect when you take a rented canoe. You will see lots of thatched huts built on stilts in the water and the villagers, fishermen, and traders who live there travel by canoe.
It is one of the most beautiful places to unwind near Cotonou. This small haven is located on the lagoon that offers Eco- water activities, catering and locations on the pontoons to spend pleasant moments. The boat ride through the mangroves is the thrilling part of the tour.
The Fondation Zinsou is always welcomed by the foundation whatsoever in Cotonou and Ouidah. The exhibits are interesting, the place is pleasant and the staff is knowledgeable and friendly. This foundation is simply outstanding. It highlights the great African artists, but also European exhibits and their work (paintings, sculptures. Potteries, etc.). This is a wonderful place that the Zinsou family shares with the people of Benin. It is a peaceful place to enjoy a good tea wedding right in Cotonou, with a good Wi-Fi connection and a nice decor. The foundation is truly representative as the Museum of African works, especially Benin. This museum is very educational, besides guests listen well and get very absorbed by the description of the works. It is also a great place for tea with friends or taking a break between appointments. In addition there is a Wi-Fi connection.
There are permanent exhibitions and temporary exhibit that is supervised by a guide. The art works are well developed and there are really friendly guides who are knowledgeable and interesting as they explain the role of this place to Benin’s cultural history. You will also get to meet local South African artists who are hired by the foundation to handle art exhibits. You will really have a great time and will not hesitate to return to the Zinsou Foundation in the future .It is a must-see in Africa or in the whole of Cotonou. You will be amazed at the concept of philanthropy and providing access to art for children. It is free and truly remarkable. Benin is very lucky to have this wealth.
Easily accessible by local transport, the Fidjerossé Beach is a beautiful place to have a good time, watch the local population, have a beer or eat a coconut in one of the huts facing the ocean. It is a nice place to spend the afternoon. It is a beautiful beach like all the other beaches in Benin, but like everywhere in Cotonou and until Ouidah, there are huge waves and rollers that prevent anyone from swimming. The coast is indeed very dangerous and you can soak only along the edge, making it extremely careful not to be "rolled over" by waves and carried away by the current which turns extremely violent. Even if you are paying attention, it is normal for the skin to appear with some redness due to violent contact with the sand.
Located at the foot of the Atlantic Ocean, the Fidjrossè Beach is a stunning beach in Cotonou, Benin that gets very crowded and busy on weekends. You have to go very early at 9:00 am or 11:00 am to be among the first to find a good place to settle. You should also leave early around 18:00 pm to avoid traffic jams with a range of output that can make you lose sometimes several hours. It is highly recommended to choose a spot that support less sunlight or rent huts available all along the beach. They are more affordable. The sea is agitated and nervous and one must be very experienced to swim. Fidjrossè Beach is one of the best beaches in Cotonou and it is much more comfortable when going to the bungalow or on the road to Ouidah. Before swimming, heed the advisory first if it is safe to take a dip in its rough waves and waters.
The Artisanal Center is a place that should not be missed to visit if you make a trip to Benin. On the site you will see beautiful African masks, necklaces of all kinds and also many other things to buy as gifts that you can bring back home to your friends and family. Also known as the Promotion Center of Crafts in Cotonou, a visit here is mandatory while in Benin. The site is located in the city center, on the Boulevard Saint-Michel ; in a nice shady park measuring 3 hectares. This village is composed of alternating straw huts and exhibition buildings that will surely please you.
Here you will find objects from simple charm, with beautiful statues and wooden seats and many other things including the beautiful bronzes. Some of the items they offer around here are indescribable. The reception is very friendly and not so heavy. If you say not interested on a certain item, there is no insistence. Do not forget to bargain, it is the rule, but if you offer too low the trading will stop altogether. Do not miss the opportunity of a Sunday visit in the Artisanal Center if you go to Cotonou.
The Marche Danktopa is huge and exotic. This market is also full of smells, colors, different languages, of laughter, arguments, haggling, and a whole world away completely from what every visitor can know or imagine. If you go through Cotonou, you must find out. You can choose to be accompanied by a local for haggling (it is customary and an absolute necessity), possibly also for the tranquility. In this double condition, your eyes, your nose, your ears or your touch will be disoriented and if you are open to difference, you can immediately instantly engage into the lively atmosphere of the market.
Immersing oneself in the Dantkpa market is almost like being in another world or rather in another time Despite the huge crowds, you can make your way in the immediate vicinity of the market or sometimes in the middle of the crowd. You can find everything there, one wonders how such small shops (for some) can harbor so much. But it is better to be accompanied in these places or the rampant pick pockets will hustle you. You should know that traders live there, sell their wares during day and sleep there at night, make their mess and probably the rest.
In short, it is a very lively and typical place is to see. Along the market there is a lagoon with a dazzling light, a privileged place where it is good to swim away from the waves and currents along the coast. The streets are divided by subject (e.g. .electronics, Car parts, clothing, etc.). Just spend some time and discover all the facets of this market. This is actually the largest West African market that is focused in the trade exchanges.
The Dantokpa market is the largest in West Africa. It is very lively and where one can meet all the African nations and beyond. This is a great business center that is brilliantly held mostly by brave women. To visit this market and do good business, you have to spend several hours. But beware of pick-pockets for they are numerous. It is advisable to visit a number of shops and be very vigilant and aware of your belongings. For a few cons, this market is very crowded and you might find it difficult to move especially on market days (five days) in which this place looks like a drenched world full of people.
Eco-Benin Lac Aheme Private Tours
If you need reliable guides during your stay in Benin, you can arrange it with the Eco-Benin Lac Aheme Private Tours. Hiking or visiting villages is a superb experience with their available guides. A guided tour gives you a better vision and understanding of life in these villages. With the Eco-Benin you will discover on your arrival in Cotonou and be delighted to discover much closer the different territories of the country. You will be very satisfied with the tour of the Cottage Possotome. You can also have a tour of the Tanougou Falls. For a more enjoyable holiday and a chance to tour the best sites in Benin, this tour group is highly recommended.
The Royal Palaces of Abomey
It once served the governments of England and France from the 17th to 18th century. In the event that you find the opportunity to visit Benin in Africa, you will discover that this central point of the country is a standout amongst the most compelling kingdoms in world history. The Abomey Royal Palaces were developed by the Fon individuals and these structures served as luxurious residences to the twelve progressive leaders of the kingdom. During that time it was still known by its first name -Dahomey. Since the Royal Palace was basically the authoritative power and the official seat of the government it was ensured by a mud divider with six watched doors and encompassed by thorny acacias, a typical strategy for protection in most African fortresses.
It's supposed that the toughness of the mud dividers are on account of they were produced using the blood of human offerings to the tribe's predecessors. Amid this period, the rulers held outright control over everything in the country, even its occupants. They delighted in a life of extravagance and success. Then again, in the 1890s, the Fon individuals were occupied with a war against the French. France inevitably defeated the kingdom and demolished a large portion of The Royal Palaces of Abomey.
Ganvie is oftentimes referred to as the Venice of Africa, It is a vast lagoon wherein diverse stilt houses and structures are inhabited by local people. Upon arrival o this famous site, you will be amused on how the locals spend their daily lives surrounded by the waters of Lake Nokue. The town of Ganvie is a four hundred year old place that is located above a lagoon. It was purposely created by the early Africans to shield their tribe from getting oppressed by different tribes which were then present. Up to this point, the stilts are as yet being possessed by local people and everything seen in typical towns are also made accessible for this attraction.
The main livelihood of the people here are fishing and tourism. However, if you go there and you intend to take pictures of them in their residence in the water, it is highly advisable that you ask first for their consent as some locals find it discourteous and rather offensive to their culture especially the senior ones. The principle fascination in Ganvie is the town itself and how local people direct their regular lives on top of this vast body of water. The magnificence of the town is additionally truly astounding once you get on one of the pontoons and wander around the town. Restaurants and different structures coddling sightseers are additionally accessible in Ganvie, every one of them opens up via a pontoon ride.
Porto Novo is the recognized capital city of Benin and it is a must to explore its major points of interest to have a better understanding of what the nation fought about. Begin making the rundown of the delightful historic points to visit once you set foot on this land. If you need to get a glimpse of how the African Royalty lived, then check out the King Toffa's Palace.
It is otherwise called the Musée Honmé. Since this energizing set out terminus permits you to contact the wealth of Africa, you could likewise visit the Palace of the Governors or the Palais de Gouverneur and get acquainted about the national lawmaking body of the country.
Because of the humidity and warm temperature in Kandi, it is highly advisable to wear light fabric clothing to avoid getting inconvenienced by the heat and humid atmosphere while on tour of the city. But towards the nighttime, the cool winds will mitigate your sun splashed skin. There are different shorelines to visit which can be arrived at via auto, train, or watercraft. It is best to plan your travel early in the morning when there is still light so you won't lose your path when going back. A few inns with 5 Star refinements are accessible so your accommodation won't be an issue amid your outing to Kandi.
If you're looking for the atmosphere, do not exceed the first 1000 meters. If you are looking for tranquility, cross the first 1000 meters. If you want the freedom and greenery, dare to take the first 2000 meters. If you are not satisfied yet, continue driving slowly there and a little further you will discover a gentle and beautiful country that is steeped of history. Benin is one of the countries in West Africa that is truly worth a visit.