Benin. This country club-shaped, on the western edge of Nigeria, was one of the most powerful empires of Africa – the kingdom of Dahomey. The ruins of palaces and temples of Dahomeyans can be seen in Abomey, while Ouidah is a painful reminder that their wealth came from: the slave trade. The Slave Route of Ouidah was the last walk on African soil of slaves to Brazil and the Caribbean. Museums, here and in Porto Novo, near the capital of Benin lagoon, examine the resulting Afro-Brazilian culture and society. Cotonou, however, Africa is mostly urban and polluted frazzling – shopping, but not without its own charm, a lively nightlife and well a couple of them.
Despite the ill-gotten gains Dahomeyan bright at the Historical Museum of Abomey, there are plenty of treasures in the dusty streets of Benin and palm-fringed beaches. This is the birthplace of voodoo, the national religion of the country, exported by slaves and distorted by Hollywood. Voodoo is an important part of everyday life and most of the cities show signs of it, such as markets served fetish with the heads and skins of every animal imaginable.
Elephants, lions and crocodiles can be seen in animated form to the northern parks, including Pendjari, one of the best in West Africa. Then there are the stilt villages, home to thousands of people to the lakes of southern and northern Tata Sombre (fortlike mud huts) built by the Shadow insular people. Not only is a country rich historical and cultural Benin, this nation is politically stable one of the easiest parts of West Africa to travel in.