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Forget children's stories, because the small West African nation of Benin is a real life fairy tale populated by a cast of spell-chanting witches, magical wizards, evil sorcerers and scary spirits. It’s Voodoo that’s made Benin so rich in magic, gods and ghosts and the country is the original home of the much maligned and misunderstood religion (it spread to Haiti and elsewhere in the Americas through the slave trade). It’s the chance to dig under the surface of this fascinating Voodoo culture that for many people is the biggest draw of Benin, but for those who prefer not to dabble in the supernatural this welcoming, and easy to travel in ...

Forget children's stories, because the small West African nation of Benin is a real life fairy tale populated by a cast of spell-chanting witches, magical wizards, evil sorcerers and scary spirits. It’s Voodoo that’s made Benin so rich in magic, gods and ghosts and the country is the original home of the much maligned and misunderstood religion (it spread to Haiti and elsewhere in the Americas through the slave trade). It’s the chance to dig under the surface of this fascinating Voodoo culture that for many people is the biggest draw of Benin, but for those who prefer not to dabble in the supernatural this welcoming, and easy to travel in country offers a little bit of everything. In the south you can sing sweet lullabies under a floppy beachside coconut palm or explore the dark past of the slave trade in an array of museums and forts. Farther inland you could request an audience with a king who lives in a palace whose walls were once made of human blood, go on safari in search of lions and elephants in some of the finest national parks in West Africa, explore castles made of mud in the tata somba villages and, right up in the far north, see the influence of the Sahara in the form of nomadic Fulani herdsmen.

Stuart Butler
About the Expert

Based in the French Basque Country, Stuart Butler writes guidebooks for Lonely Planet and Bradt on France, Spain, Norway and large parts of Africa and South Asia. He also works with numerous international surf magazines exploring the remoter coastlines of the world.

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Stuart Butler for Triporati

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Facts at a Glance

  • Location: West Africa, between Togo and Nigeria
  • Language: French, Fon, Yoruba
  • Currency: West African CFA Franc
  • Research: Wikitravel | Wikipedia
  • Weather: Rainfall