Despite having a troubled past, today Benin is an example of stability on the continent and represents the story of a self-made African country with a happy ending. If Benin is impressive for something, it is for its exuberant nature represented in the Pendejari National Park and on a coast full of palm trees that makes lovers of the sea and the beach fall in love.
However, it also impresses for its stilt houses, for its Afro-Brazilian heritage of Ouidah and Porto Novo as well as for its fascinating Somba culture. Benin is an adventure to live. Will this be your next destination?
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When to go to Benin?
The best time to visit Benin is from November to February when the weather is dry and warm, ideal for seeing the country's fauna. The hottest time of year is from March to May, after the harmattan winds retreat when the skies are clear and there are isolated rains in the south. The months of June to October are usually synonymous with downpours, which subside from mid-July to September in the south.
How to get to Benin?
There are no direct flights between the capital of Benin (Cotonou) and Spain, so to get to this country you need at least one stopover. Flights to Benin depart from Paris, Brussels, Istanbul or Casablanca.
Do I need a visa to enter Benin?
Indeed, but obtaining it is very simple and fast, since it has an agile system of online requests on its official website. Once the document has been filled out and paid, it is issued within a period of approximately 48 hours with a validity period that begins from the moment the visa is issued.
The only thing necessary is to have a passport valid for more than 6 months from the planned entry to Benin and choose whether it is for 30 or 90 days.
Are there compulsory vaccinations to enter Benin?
To travel to Benin, the yellow fever vaccine is mandatory. It is also important to carry the international vaccination certificate where this vaccine appears in your suitcase. Regarding the recommended vaccines, treatment for typhoid fever and malaria, tetanus, meningitis, and hepatitis A and B.
What to see in Benin?
Pendjari National Park
Set amid the majestic landscape of the rugged Atakora Mountains and savanna, the Pendjari National Park is one of the best nature reserves in West Africa, with a multitude of wild animals such as lions, cheetahs, baboons, hippos, leopards and elephants, among other species. The best time to see this 2750 km2 park is at the end of the dry season, when they congregate at the watering holes.
Known as the 'African Venice', 30.000 people of the Tofinu ethnic group live in this incredible city of stilt houses in bamboo huts on Lake Nokoué. They settled within the lake to escape the kingdom of Abomey who sold them as slaves to Europeans. The tofinu knew their enemies' fear of water and that they would never reach the lake to capture them. Today this floating city called Ganvié continues to exist and can be explored using a boat.
It is an essential place to visit during a trip to Benin because Ganvié is a piece of history and part of the culture and way of life of the Tofinu.
Located in the southwest of Benin, it is a place where time seems to stand still. Its fertile shores are a beautiful place to spend a few days, especially in the most important town: Possotomé.
Here you can do various excursions to get to know the surroundings, go for a canoe ride on the lake, swim or learn traditional fishing techniques. The hospitable reception of the locals is a gift because they allow travelers to observe them working in their crafts or join a long walk that will delight nature lovers as the endemic plants and their properties are described.
The Ouidah Slave Trail
It is estimated that more than two million people captured by the kingdom of Dahomey were sold as slaves to merchants to be transferred to America. On the shores of Benin, Ouidah, there is still the auction square and you can see a path that covers the different stages of those who were deprived of their freedom to be sold and shipped in galleons bound for America. A sad memory of what happened to those people centuries ago.
Abomey was the capital of the ancient kingdom of Dahomey, whose kings profited from the sale of slaves they obtained from the surrounding villages. Its royal palaces date from the XNUMXth and XNUMXth centuries and are considered a World Heritage Site. Some of them like Ghezo or Glelé can be visited and show the power that this dynasty had in Benin.