Benin Safari, Tours & Holidays
Benin Safari, Tours & Holidays
Benin, a French-speaking West African nation, is the birthplace of the vodun (or “voodoo”) religion and home to the former Dahomey Kingdom from circa 1600–1900. In Abomey, Dahomey’s former capital, the Historical Museum occupies two royal palaces with bas-reliefs recounting the kingdom’s past and a throne mounted on human skulls. To the north, Pendjari National Park offers safaris with elephants, hippos, and lions.
Most journeys begin in Cotonou, Benin’s largest city, and de facto capital. Cotonou has an enviable location on the Atlantic Ocean with miles and miles of beach which on weekends are crowded with local families. Cotonou Dantokpa Market is one of the largest in West Africa. Accessible from Cotonou on day trips are Ganvie, where 12,000 fishermen live in stilt villages on Lake Nokoue; Ouidah, a former slaving post and considered the birthplace of voodoo; and Porto Novo, Benin’s official capital, another former slave post, the city-state of the Yoruba Kingdom based in Nigeria, and where many former slaves settled when they returned from Brazil after their emancipation. Porto Novo means “New Port” in Portuguese. One of the great sights in Port Novo is the multi-coloured Brazilian mosque. Another is the costumed voodoo figures with their roots in Yoruba culture known as the “Guardians of the Night.” Highly revered and serving as an unofficial police force, these spirits were originally created to scare enemies away. Today they still wander Port Novo streets before returning to their temple where the entrance is prohibited.
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