As the birthplace of voodoo, Benin oozes the exotic. With its glittering palaces, floating villages and python-filled temples, this is a country that has always moved to its own beat. From filling your belly with fried beans and yams, to paddling across a lagoon or following in the footsteps of slaves, Benin is filled with engaging, curious and amazing experiences.
Benin Tours & Travel
All our Benin trips
At a glance
|Capital city:||Porto Novo (population 223,600)|
|Language:||French, Fon, Yoruba, Dendi, Bariba, Ge|
|Time zone:||(GMT+01:00) West Central Africa|
|Electricity:||Type C (European 2-pin) Type E (French 2-pin, female earth)|
Best time to visit Benin
The most pleasant months to visit Benin are between November and February when temperatures drop along with the humidity. From April to July and September to October expect heavy rains. The dry and dusty harmattan winds from the Sahara blow between December and March, and this period (particularly February to April) can be uncomfortably hot, with temperatures in the mid-40s (Celsius).
Geography and environment
Top 5 Distinctly Beninese Moments
1. Paddle a Pirogue
A good chunk of Benin is under, over, or around water and when the roads disappear, there’s only one way to travel – by pirogue! These dugout canoes have serviced the Beninese for centuries.
2. Step in the Footsteps of Slaves
Ouidah was often the last bit of Africa slaves saw as they were sent around the world to be traded and worked. The Portuguese, English and French all constructed forts here to protect their trading interests, one of which now houses a museum that gives you a unique glimpse into the terror and destruction that the slave trade wreaked on this part of the world.
3. Stay in a Stilt City
Over 10,000 people call the waters of Ganvie home. Perched up above the lagoon in stilted houses, they eat, sleep, fish and live miles away from dry land. Stay in an auberge for a taste of life on the water.
4. Learn Voodoo
Over 60% of Beninese practice voodoo. Dive right into the traditions and everyday rituals as you travel through villages. The Musée d'histoire d'Ouidah gives an interesting insight into voodoo history and culture in the area.
5. Tuck Into Yams
They’re the favourite, number one food of the Beninese. Mashed, fried, as chips or slathered in peanut sauce - it’s not a meal until it’s been yammed.
FAQs on Benin
For more information on insurance, please go to: Travel Insurance
Jan 10 Traditional Day
Jan 24 Milad un Nabi (Birth of the Prophet Muhammed)
Apr 1 Easter Monday
May 1 Labour Day
May 9 Ascension Day
May 20 Whit Monday
Aug 1 Independence Day
Aug 8 Eid al-Fitr
Aug 15 Assumption
Oct 15 Tabaski (Feast of Sacrifice)
Oct 26 Armed Forces Day
Nov 1 All Saints Day
Nov 30 National Day
Dec 25 Christmas Day
Please note these dates are for 2013. For a current list of public holidays go to:
Australia: Yes - in advance
Belgium: Yes - in advance
Canada: Yes - in advance
Germany: Yes - in advance
Ireland: Yes - in advance
Netherlands: Yes - in advance
New Zealand: Yes - in advance
South Africa: Yes - in advance
Switzerland: Yes - in advance
United Kingdom: Yes - in advance
USA: Yes - in advance
Please obtain your Benin visa in advance. We advise you to check current visa requirements with your nearest Embassy or Consulate. Australians & New Zealanders will need to apply through the Embassy in London.
It may also be possible for most nationalities to obtain a visa for Benin in Accra, Ghana. An express visa in Accra takes 1-3 working days but may be subject to additional fees.
Health and Safety
Intrepid takes the health and safety of its travellers seriously, and takes every measure to ensure that trips are safe, fun and enjoyable for everyone. We recommend that all travellers check with their government or national travel advisory organisation for the latest information before departure:
From New Zealand?
Go to: http://www.voyage.gc.ca/
Go to: http://travel.state.gov/
Go to: http://www.fco.gov.uk/en/
The World Health Organisation
also provides useful health information:
Go to: http://www.who.int/en/
Benin Travel Tips
Intrepid is committed to travelling in a way that is respectful of local people, their culture, local economies and the environment. It's important to remember that what may be acceptable behaviour, dress and language in your own country, may not be appropriate in another. Please keep this in mind while travelling.
Top responsible travel tips for Benin
1. Be considerate of Benin’s customs, traditions, religion and culture.
2. Dress modestly and respectfully. Shoulders to knees should be covered, especially when entering places of worship.
3. For environmental reasons, try to avoid buying bottled water. Fill a reusable water bottle or canteen with filtered water.
4. Always dispose of litter thoughtfully, including cigarette butts.
5. When bargaining at markets, stay calm, be reasonable and keep a smile on your face. It's meant to be fun!
6. Learn some local language and don't be afraid to use it - simple greetings will help break the ice.
7. Shop for locally made products. Supporting local artisans helps keep traditional crafts alive.
8. Refrain from supporting businesses that exploit or abuse endangered animals.
9. Please ask and receive permission before taking photos of people, including children.
10. When on community visits or homestays, refrain from giving gifts or money to locals.
|To Benin and Back||Chris Starace|
|The Viceroy of Ouidah||Bruce Chatwin|
|Show Me The Magic||Annie Caulfield|