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Cotonou, the biggest port town of Benin is the Capital City. Cotonou can be found on the stretch of land between the Gulf of Guinea and Lake Nokoue in West Africa. This is actually the beginning of the Benin-Niger Railway, which spans about 300 miles to the interior in the center of Benin at Parakou. The airport terminals of Cotonou combined with its road and rail connections allow it to be the transportation and communications hub of Benin. Cruise ships pier within an industrial area, use taxis or cruise company offered transportation.
The town has small-scale industries such as the manufacturing of palm oil, brewing, textiles, and cement. Other construction materials include aluminum sheet. Cars and bicycles are put together here. Cotonou is really a distribution center for oil items.
Cotonou may be the structures for example parliament and also the top court, along with the most to a lot of foreign embassies. The Nation's College of Benin together with along with a botanical garden will also be within the city. A lot of the human populations are voodoo enthusiasts. It had been from Benin that voodoo was released towards the Americas.
Within Cotonou, you will find many taxi stations or "gares" that vacationers can depart for particular points within Benin. For instance, to visit Porto Novo, you have to go to the "gare p Dantokpa," available at the big market. Here, there are also taxis to Seme, Lagos, Lomé, Abomey-Calavi, and Allada. Costs can differ, but costs are more fixed for taxis compared to zemis. For instance, a vacation to Porto Novo generally costs 500 FCFA per person. Prices should be talked about before getting in to the taxi.
Share taxis and minibuses would be the primary type of transport in Benin. You are able to go almost anywhere but you will find no schedules or released routes. All hotels can advise.
Points of interest
Cotonou is really a harmful city where muggings at knife-point aren't uncommon, but vacationers are going to be fine when they use common sense. Steer clear of the beach, a lawless zone that the local people avoid.
Benin's points of interest include stilted towns magical mysteries of voodoo and scrumptious local cuisine. The lagoon at Porto Novo provides the best stilted fishing area in the region. The wildlife at Parc National La Pendjari and also the historic items at Musée Historique d'Abomey, are sights worth seeing in Benin. Several miles on the river there is a towns which were built-in the 1700s like a protective measure. Restaurants along with a hotel happen to be built six ft over the water, add splendor to the city.
The Boulevard St. Michel
The middle of town is replete with snappy roads and lots of activities. The Serta Topka marketplace is situated at the tip of the boulevard.
Artisanal Center
This center, situated from Boulevard Saint Michel, sells probably the most typical art from throughout Benin: wood and metal sculpture, drums, woven and colored tapestries, in addition to unique products produced by local craftsmen. There's no entrance fee and costs for that goods vary based on what you are searching for and also the mood from the vendor. The important thing to buying products isn't to simply accept the very first cost, but always bargain.
Marché Dantokpa
Among the biggest open-air marketplaces in West Africa, the Marché Dantokpa is situated on Boulevard St. Michel. All kinds of products could be bought here, varying from colorful African cloth to hand crafted leather sandals, wood designs and carvings, household goods, and food products. Like otherwise in Benin, costs are not set, so that you can bargain for the purchase.
The biggest attraction for most visitors to Benin is the country’s rich history and the ruins which stand to tell the story. The ancient palaces of Abomey, their museums, and even the pathway on which slaves ones walked, are a special part of the continent’s heritage. The country also offers visitors abundant natural beauty which can be enjoyed in places like Pendjari National Park and Lake Ganvie or on a big game safari.
Royal Palaces of Abomey
If there is one attraction that every tourist to Benin should visit, the Royal Palaces of Abomey is it. Built between the 17th and 19th centuries by the Fon people, this UNESCO World Heritage site holds some of the last remains of West Africa’s turbulent past. The earthen structure makes up the ancient town in which the King of Dahomey (the ancient Benin) resided.
Address: Abomey, Southern Benin
Phone: n/a
Website: n/a
Abomey Historical Museum
Situated on an ancient palatial site, the Abomey Historical Museum provides insight into the fallen kingdom of Dahomey. With exhibitions covering the rise and fall of the elite and excavated artifacts like a throne made from human skulls, the Abomey Historical Museum is the perfect place to gain a better understanding of the Benin that once was. Nearby sites include the Fetish Temple and a local arts center which sells traditional handicrafts.
Address: B.P.25, Abomey
Phone: +229-22-50-03-14
Website: http://epa-prema.net/abomeyGB/
Slave Route (Route d’Esclaves)
The Route d’Esclaves, or the Slave Route is a 2.5-mile (four-kilometer) stretch of heritage road that is the last piece of African soil slaves from Benin touched before they were shipped to the Caribbean and Americas. The area now holds several landmarks which are important for telling the story, including the Slave Auction where owners bargained for help, the Tree of Forgetting where slaves were forced to perform a ritual which allegedly made them forget their homeland, and the Zomai Cabin, a tiny dark enclosure which was thought to prepare the slaves for the torrid conditions aboard the ships. Most haunting of all is the remarkable monument on Ouidah Beach, the slaves’ point of departure, called the Point of No Return.
Address: BP 33, Ouidah
Temple of the Sacred Python
Open to visitors daily, the Temple of the Sacred Python is one of the most interesting temples in Ouidah. The serpent deity Dangbe is revered in many cultures in Benin and thus the serpent is believed to be a sacred and in need of reverence and protection. The priests of Dangbe manage and maintain the temple, charging a small fee for visitors interested in seeing the dozens of pythons housed inside. For another fee, visitors can have their picture taken with a serpent draped around their neck.
Address: near Rue F Colombani
Pendjari National Park
The best national park in the country, the Pendjari spans 275,000 hectares and is home to a wide range of amazing wildlife. Located 28 miles (45 kms) north of the town of Natitingou, several activities can be planned, including a wildlife safari. Spend a few days at the billowing waterfalls, gorgeous green landscape, and navigable pathways, which is a lovely respite from the sometimes overwhelming nature of Benin’s large city centers. Address: Atakora, Northwest Benin
Phone: 229-23-83-00-85
Website: www.pendjari.net
Ganvie Lake Village
One of the largest lake towns in the West African region, the village of Ganvie is an interesting place to visit. Home to nearly 30,000 people who all live in houses on stilts, the Ganvie Lake Village is quite a site to behold. Only 11 miles (18 kms) northwest of the center of Cotonou, Ganvie is a beautiful place to spend the day. There is also a water market from which all sorts of local crafts can be purchased.
Address: Lake Nokoué, Southern Benin
Grand Marche du Dantopka
For tourists interested in shopping, there is only one place to go in Benin, the Grand Marche du Dantopka in Cotonou. Apart from the vast expanse of stalls and its seemingly endless supply of local jewelry, crafts, and knock-off CDs and clothing, the Grand Marche du Dantopka is simply an experience in itself. A veritable labyrinth of lanes and alleys, the market can be both exhausting and exiting at the same time.
Address: Town Centre B of Jonquet, Cotonou
Benin -Things to Do
Benin offers travelers far more than palatial ruins and the widespread religion of voodoo. The West African country’s natural environment is often under-appreciated, even though there is a great deal of things to do. Whether travelers are looking for a laid-back afternoon or a chance to get the adrenaline pumping, Benin has it all.
However cliché, the wildlife safari is a quintessential African experience and a great deal of fun. Adventure-seekers should not pass up the chance to partake in some great water sports at the beaches of Grand Popo and Ouidah, while tourists looking for a relaxing holiday can stick to sampling some of the local fermented beverages.
If museums and shopping are not of interest, tourists can always take to the sea (or the lagoon in this instance) for a day of sailing. The Yacht Club in Cotonou offers visitors the chance to rent a yacht and leisurely float under the Benin sun. For something a little smaller, head over to the Nakoue Lagoon, where visitors can rent canoes or motorboats.
For travelers seeking adventure, Benin has a small, but notable selection of water sports available. The beaches of Grand Popo and Ouidah are the best in the country to organize activities. Everything from scuba diving to snorkeling can be experienced is the West African waters, but beware that the currents can become dangerous so don’t venture out without a trained guide. Many of the large hotels on the neat Grand Popo beachfront organize water sports for their guests.
One thing that should not be missed is the opportunity to go on a wildlife safari. Pendjari National Park has a large range of fauna which can be seen mainly during the peak season when the park’s operations are in full swing. Lucky tourists have the chance to catch all sorts of animals in their natural habitat including cheetahs, hippos, and crocodiles. For those wanting to lengthen their stay at Pendjari, the park has accommodations on site. An alternate, which is only seasonally operational, is the ‘W’ National Park. While far less developed than Pendjari, it offers visitors to Benin a great experience to get up close and personal with the animals. Safaris can be organized by Gap Adventures.
Travelers who aren’t able to fit in a full scale safari adventure should not despair. Another popular activity is hippo-spotting on the Oueme River. This is one of the best ways to learn about these docile creatures by boat. A cruise along the beautiful Oueme River is a brilliant way to spend the afternoon and offers the chance to spot one of Africa’s most intriguing inhabitants. Boat tours leave frequently and can be booked with Jolinaiko Eco Tours, a company which specializes in the West African region.
Nature lovers will be pleased that there are several bird watching spots in the region which can be arranged through local tour company EcoBenin. Between the beach at Grand Popo and the capital city of Porto Novo, there is a large network of lagoons, the banks of which are home to several indigenous species. Embark on a leisurely boat trip on the country’s longest river, the Oueme, on Cotonou’s body of water, the Nokoue, or on Lake Aheme, which is reachable after navigating Grand Popo on the border of Togo. All of these bodies of water also provide prime opportunities for fishing.
Navigating Benin’s downtown can prove stressful, which makes a beer tasting tour that much more alluring. The local millet beer, which is better known as choukachou, is made from cereal crops or grains. Used mainly for food, these grains are sometimes brewed and produce a refreshing and intoxicating beverage. The city of Parakou is the center of the local brewing industry and while many merchants offer samples at the markets, tourists can have a more formal tasting session at the source.
Cotonou Beaches
A good option to choose a calming day under the sun reaches the Fidjrosse beach, situated locally of Fidjrosse. Here, you will find just the right sand. If you like, rent just a little hut-type shelter during the day for less than 5.000 FCFA. You will find many bars and inns found across the water here, that are ideal spots for refreshing drinks and snacks and escaping.
Night life/Entertainment
There's a complete selection of entertainment in Cotonou any day. Karaoke is popular in Benin, and one of the better spots with this would be the Benin Marina Hotel, where there's a piano bar, full bar, and party area in addition to a gambling room Chez Alex within the Jonquet neighborhood and Club V.I.P., situated within the Ganhi neighborhood.
If you like dancing, you are able to dance till beginning in the Very Structure/Chez Alex in Jonquet, K.S. in the Hotel du Port, New You are able to close to the Artisan Center, and Club V.I.P. within the Ganhi neighborhood. Many of these clubs, plus many more, be a musician varying from Techno towards the local dance music, "Zouk”.
The Jazz Club What Exactly! hosts a number of Benin's most gifted music artists. If you're within the mood for listening or dancing to reside music, this club provides the best ambiance to complete both. Every couple of several weeks, a celebrated West African singer or musical group provides a concert within the municipal stadium. If you're lucky enough to get maintain town throughout a performance, make the most and go. It's a great chance to savor live music having a local audience.
You will find several cinemas out and about which show popular Indian, American, French, and Nigerian films. Try Cinema Vog, across in the restaurant Festival p Glaces, or Cinema Concorde within the Akpakpa neighborhood, close to the eco-friendly Equine Hotel. Entrance costs start at 500 CFA. Theatrical, dance, and musical performances can be found periodically in the French, Chinese, and American Cultural Centers too.
Benin Food and Restaurants
Benin’s cuisine is an eclectic mix of several regional influences, but most staple dishes include maize products which are prepared as dough or porridge. Eating out is usually reasonable in price, with a wide range of venues to choose from cheap street food to top notch restaurants. There are plenty of bars and pubs in Cotonou, with many serving the local brew. Most other regions have low-key entertainment scenes.
Benin Bars and Pubbing
Most opportunities for a night out in Benin are in the largest city of Cotonou, with several bars, nightclubs, and pubs in operation. Other areas of the country really only come alive when there are regional and national festivals. The establishments in Cotonou, while generally small, are no joke. Many don’t get going until late and stay open until the sun rises.
The cultural capital of Benin has something for everyone. Looking for a bit of live music? Head to Le Repaire de Bacchus (Ave Proche, Cotonou), which hosts live jazz every Thursday. Rumba and Ivorian tunes can be heard drifting through the doors on the weekend, as well. For something a little more familiar, try Le Livingstone (Haie Vive, Cotonou), which resembles a traditional English pub. Many expats come here to enjoy billboard chart hits and watch the latest football match.
Those looking for a crazy club not be disappointed as there are many opportunities for bar-hopping in Benin. The Jonquet strip in Cotonou is famous for its lively bars, the most well known being Le Soweto (Rue des Cheminots, Cotonou). The Cristal Palace (Rue 108, Cotonou) at Alex’s Hotel, has a popular karaoke bar and makes for a memorable night out.
Benin Dining and Cuisine
Good food can be found in almost every city or village in Benin. Whether it’s street vendors who sell everything from goat and turkey to rice and vegetables or more established restaurants offering a range of flavors and international cuisines, Benin will not leave you hungry.
The relatively recent influx of tourists to Benin has resulted in a range of dining options from several regions in the world. Most notable are the restaurants specializing in delicious West African cuisine, but there are also several Lebanese, Chinese, and Indian establishments.
For a taste of the region’s best fare, try Pili Pili (Rue du Reverend Pere Kitti, Zongo, Cotonou), an open-air eatery with an upscale atmosphere. Popular with locals and tourists alike, the food is unrivaled. Diners should consider going for a hearty lunch where the prices are more reasonable and meals come with large jugs of fresh pineapple juice - a treat in Benin’s hot and sticky climate. For something a bit more western, try Le Costa Rica (Centre de Promotion de l’Artisanal, Zongo, Cotonou), which serves American favorites like pizza, burgers, and steak.
If you’re in the mood for Mediterranean cuisine, the popular Fairouz (Missèbo market intersection, Cotonou) is your best bet. From homemade hummus and fresh herbs to ripe tomatoes and delicious breads, this restaurant knows its Middle East dining. They also have air-conditioning, which can be a welcome treat when temperatures peak and are hard to find in Africa. A great place for an after-dinner treat or even an indulgent breakfast is La Gerbe D’Or (Ave Clozel, town center, Cotonou). The ground-floor bakery has everything to satisfy that sweet tooth, including croissants, éclairs, fruit tarts, and other delicious pastries
Benin is not exactly a shopper’s haven, but this doesn’t mean that there are not great souvenirs to be picked up and unbeatable deals to be found. Benin’s rich heritage and culture make for unique and interesting crafts such as carved wooden masks which are used during traditional ceremonies, hand-woven baskets, pottery, brass goods, and textiles. The same products are more expensive elsewhere in the world, so buying them in the country of origin is a good idea and more authentic.
Cotonou is the best city for shopping – souvenir or otherwise. By far the best place to find anything is the highly popular and somewhat overwhelming Grand Marche du Dantopka. This Benin market, which spans miles, is one of the best and biggest in West Africa. Tourists can find everything from clothes and household appliances to authentic handicrafts. Brave shoppers should keep an eye out for the fetish section where voodoo dolls, herbs, and potions can be purchased freely.
For those looking for something a little more established, there are supermarkets and a few department stores which sell traditional articles of clothing and more expensive souvenirs. Tourists need only go to the center of Cotonou around the Marché Ganhi area to find a range of stores in Benin to suit their needs.
The Dantokpa Market  and also the Artisan Market - The exotic market of Grand Marché  La Danktokpa close to the Nouveau Pont offers from fresh and delicious food to electronic products and weird objects like shined up cloth, softball bat and magical products to charm everyone.

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