The Republic of Benin is one of Africa's smallest countries;
formerly known as Dahomey.
Benin Travel and
Tourist Information with links to official
travel and tourism websites and state
resources for visitors to Benin.
Benin Country Information,
Benin Travel Tips,
Map of Benin.
Countries neighbouring Benin are:
Benin gained full independence as the Republic of Dahomey, in 1960,
and changed its name to Benin in 1975.
Abomey was the centre of the early kingdom of Dahomey, with a rival
state at Porto-Novo.
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Benin has been something of a closely kept secret since a group of
young army officers, led by Major Kerekou, put a halt to twelve years of repeated coups
by taking control of the country themselves, in 1972.
Even now, after the relaxing of the Major's Marxist-Leninist line that
turned colonial Dahomey into the People's Republic of Benin - and earned it a somewhat
naive title of The Cuba of West Africa - the Gulf of Guinea's least known nation is still
not on most travellers' list of destinations.
An account of travel through Benin by shared taxi; the easiest way to get around Benin,
but not always the safest.
For many Europeans on the Trans-Sahara Peugeot run, the road ends
in Niger; although flights to Europe are generally cheaper from
the northern Nigerian town of Kano.
Those who do travel along the coast between
and Lagos, look at Cotonou as nothing more than a stop between
Ghana's beaches and the flight home.
There's not really that much to do in Cotonou, except get out; unless
you like the idea of paying to join the French around the pool at the Sheraton.
International representation may be lodged in Benin's characterless
coastal town of Cotonou, but it is not the country's capital.
Principal status is reserved for a town with a more pleasant setting,
and a proper place in history; Porto Novo.
If all routes lead to Cotonou, then once official business is seen to,
diversions and ways out of the sandy grid are sought.
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Abomey and Ouidah
A two-hour drive from Cotonou takes you back to the former capital of
one of the great West African kingdoms in pre-colonial times.
The most accessible attraction to Cotonou, is the lake dwellings at Ganvie.
Lakes, Rivers and National Parks in Benin
Birdwatching in Benin:
Important bird areas in Benin are Lake Nokoue, and the Lake Aheme
and Aho complex.
W du Benin National Park lies in the Niger border region.
You really should visit Pendjari National Park, the best game park in
West Africa, on Natitingou and the Atacora region with its many waterfalls, caves, and the
famous 'Tata Sombas'.
When in Natitingou, travellers looking for good food and a good clean
room should stay at the Hotel Bourgogne (Tel. 82 22 40).
By John Conry.
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