A hidden jewel tucked away among its more established neighbours, this small West African nation packs a surprisingly heavy cultural punch. Well-known as the birthplace of voodoo, Benin’s charm and heritage come hand in hand with its dark history of slavery, which spread this often-misunderstood religion across the Atlantic. These days, the scattered adherents of this faith come together annually at Ouidah Voodoo Festival for a multi-day, city-wide celebration, a memorable experience for participants and visitors alike.
Venture to Ganvié, a gigantic stilted village of 20,000 inhabitants in the middle of Lake Nokoué, settled since the 17th century by the Tofinu who took refuge there to avoid being sold into slavery.
Climb down into the archeological depths of Agongointo, an underground military fortress of the Kingdom of Dahomey, whose ingenuity, craftsmanship, and military sophistication was recently brought to cinematic life in The Woman King.
Stroll the captivating streets of Porto-Novo, admiring the baroque-style architecture built by the returning emancipated Afro-Brazilians, another inadvertent legacy of slavery.
Perfect for adventurers on the lookout for the road less travelled, Benin’s vibrant ethnic mosaic and historical inheritance make it a worthwhile destination, and can easily be incorporated into a West African multi-country expedition.