Lake Village Ganvie, Benin

Benin Holidays

Touching both the fringes of the Sahel and the Gulf of Guinea, this elongated nation is squeezed between better-known neighbours.

Whilst this unusual geography brings natural diversity – and riches in the wild north – it is Benin’s colourful culture that draws more intention. Voodoo still dominates, mystifying, terrifying and captivating outsiders in equal measure. This is set against colourful traditions that blur religious lines and unique architecture that is rich with symbolism.

Benin is a new destination for us, and one which presents a number of challenges. Therefore, we are not currently offering tailor-made trips. However, we have set up a pioneering group tour, exploring the country in the company of one of our team members.

The traditional African handcrafted wooden statuettes during annual Beninese Voodoo festival, next to Ouidah, Benin
The traditional African handcrafted wooden statuettes during annual Beninese Voodoo festival, next to Ouidah, Benin

Discover Voodoo history in the south

Despite Benin’s narrow coastline on the Gulf of Guinea, it is here that much of the population lives. It is also this southern region where Voodoo is most prevalent, with around half the country thought to practice it to some extent – most commonly blended with Christianity. Even diluted by monotheism, this pagan religion retains its power and authentic Voodoo ceremonies remain enthralling, exhilarating experiences for the uninitiated.

Young male lion in Pendjari National Park, Benin
Young male lion in Pendjari National Park, Benin

Wildlife of the north

The north of the country is far wilder and less populated, as forest and savannah dominate. Here, Pendjari and W national parks survive as sanctuaries for some of the region’s last surviving wildlife. In particular, Pendjari is experiencing success under the careful management of African Parks, in partnership with the government. West African lions can be seen here, as well as elephants, buffalos and endemic antelope species like western hartebeests.

Meet our experts

A passion for travel runs right through every one of our experts - meaning they're always ready with first-hand insight about their specialist countries.

Chris Johnston

Chris is the Conde Nast Traveller chosen Specialist for Africa.

25 years ago, my first trip to Africa took on a life of its own. I planned for three months, I stayed for two years. Whilst there, I was mistaken for a priest, attacked by sharks and arrested. Yet the countless, clattering journeys opened my eyes to the beauty of the landscapes and the grace of the people. My recent trips are undoubtedly more comfortable, but the welcome is as warm as ever and the best experiences are still those I never see coming.

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