The Republic of Benin, Nigeria’s next-door neighbour (or sister from another Mother), may be a small country, but there is a lot to experience and discover on a trip there. You have to know where to look and where to go, though. We know (obvs, because we’re plugged into the biggest cultural event right now AKA Jollof Road) so we compiled some of the places that will be well worth your time into an article.
What are we, if not nice?
Because you are still fresh and your point of entry will be Cotonou, anyway, you should start your waka from Dantokpa. It is the biggest open air market in West-Africa, which means the biggest market in your town has nothing on it.
You don’t have to look for anything – that’s where the fun is. Just walk around and take in the atmosphere. Talk to the locals, buy stuff, eat the food, and have fun. Don’t be surprised if you hear the familiar Nigerian accent or music blaring from speakers. If you are lucky, you might find someone breaking into zanku that is light-years better than your best attempt. Naija don blow.
You probably have heard that Ganvié is the West African equivalent of Venice, but let go of that thought; it is another display of white people’s ignorance about the continent, or anything, really, and their hard-on for imposing their experience on others. If we are really bent on comparison, the next best place to compare this place of water to is Makoko – yes, the one in Lagos. Think of Makoko, but way less shitty. Like Makoko, fishing is like the major occupation the community thrives on.
Fun fact: Ganvie and Makoko share the coastline, and if you are in for an adventure, hop on a boat across the coastline and you will get to Makoko in about a day and half.
However, it is still not Makoko. Ganvié is a tourist spot, and you are bound to lose yourself in all the goodness it has to offer.
The Door of No Return, Ouidah
We understand that you want to have as much fun as humanly possible, but you could also set out time for some sober reflection.
Slavery is an important part of African history. Its relics are everywhere across the continent – monuments and structures confirming the exact kind of asshole man can be.
The Door of No Return is exactly what it means. It was the point where every man captured in the transatlantic slave trade knew they were never going back home. It’s the place where they took their last breath as free men and women. It is where every bit of their identity was forcibly taken away from them.
Yes. It is an historical and sentimental site. You should make time out to visit the monument.
Pythons Temple, Ouidah
This should be your next stop after the Door of no Return because they are within the same proximity.
Heh, how do the wriggling creatures make you feel? Because this is the perfect time to lose all your fears of snakes. We grow, right? The Pythons Temple is a scared place of sorts. No one fears the creatures here; they worship and revere them. There is a hut housing multitudes of pythons. Now, that’s what you want to see. They have no fangs, nor do they have any interest in hurting you. So, be a dear, put one across your neck and smile for the camera.
This is a no-brainer. LOL. Benin is a coastal country with many amazing beaches. Find one, or two, or as many as you like and just chill.
Now you have your perfect holiday in Benin Republic. No need to thank us, that’s why we’re here for you. And oh, by the way, we think you deserve something good, so this is a reminder of sorts: some cool people from Zikoko are on the journey of a lifetime. They’re travelling through 14 countries in West Africa, collecting stories as they go. You can follow them and catch up on what they are up to on Jollofroad.com. You can also catch up on what they are up to on the Zikoko socials.