10 free things in Benin.
What can’t I say about Benin? There are more than 10 free things in Benin. But for the purpose of this post I will detail just 10. It was a hot and fun get away for me. I traveled there a few years ago during the summer for a 2 week paid vacation. =p
I went there specifically because it is where many anthropological historians argue Haitians are descendants of. I figured I should visit the land of my great great ancestors to learn from them. I planned to explore several historical sites (i.e. Dahomey Empire, Ouidah, Abomey). Below, I’ve listed a dozen places you should visit during your next trip to Benin.
Benin’s tourism is still in its infancy however, the Beninese are friendly, beautiful and hospital people. Many of them would initiate conversations with me or say a small joke, and I would acknowledge them and chat. They all seem to know about Haiti and Haiti’s successful revolution from french oppression which led to our Independence in 1804.
Though many of these activities are free to the public, there are also many donation boxes and artisans who make a living at some of these venues, please support them if you can by buying their original work.
Historical Museum of Abomey
The Abomey Museum was well archived and exquisitely preserved. I learned about the early days of Benin, it’s colonial past from the portuguese and the french amongst more uplifting information about the Beninese Amazonian badass female warriors! There is also a small gift shop that has lots of post cards, jewelry, and books.
I was afraid here to be honest, lots of snakes sliding by your feet aha! I paid for a private tour of this quaint place, the tour guide was from a neighboring country and he spoke English and French. He explained the significance of snakes in Benin’s culture. I saw some out of this world things there as well, a Voodoo shrine.
I enjoyed this center, its located near Cotonou, which is an international hub. At the Center you an find amazing hand crafted art, bags, bowls, jewlery and more from Beninese artisans. Needless to say I splurged like crazy here, and don’t regret doing so!
Foret Sacree de Kpasse (Secret Forest of Kpasse)
This forest really was a mind trip! Again there was a private guide and artisans on site. The forest is gated and upkept by the Benin Governmen. Visit here if you’d like to learn about Voodun (Voodoo), voodoo originator Legba, while being encapsuated by tall trees. I also bought some artisan work there.
Take a boat tour of Ganive, Benin
This boat tour was fun, I fortunantely had a local connection who showed me all around Ganvie’s water town, visited gift shops, and ate some loal snacks. During the tour we were told about the origins of Ganvie, it’s first settler, the myth behind the first settle, who legends say rode on the back of a crocodile… fun stuff! The tour could take several hours to complete.
Fondation de la Fondation Zinsou (Foundation Zinsou museum)
These museums are somewhat of a franchise, they are all over Benin. I visited one in Cotonou which was amazing, I learned about the origin of African Print fabric. I believe every location might have a unique exhibit per it’s location. I attempted to visit another Foundation Zinsou Museum in Abomey but they were ufortunantely close.
I spent days walking the Fidjrosse beach. It’s long and hot! I would go there to clear my head and to get a tan. There are some high quality restaurants nearby along with local entrepreneur who will be walking aroud selling their foods and snacks. I like what I ate there. I think you will like them too.
Place des martyrs (Place of Martyrs)
This is actually a public square. I liked walking there and taking a photo of the statue. The statue consists of two Beninese warriors, a woman and male warrior. It was inspirating to see.
Musee Honme (Honme Museum)
This museum was extremly in depth and compact. The neighboring gift shop was pleasant to visit and patronize too. The honme museum chronicals the history of Benin’s many great fore-mothers and fore-fathers, the Queens and Kings of Benin. We had a tour guide who explained every room, every space in the venue in graphic detail in a way that was captivating and riviting. Towards the end of the tour I met a local artisan who lived on the compound. His Father was a Beninese Brazilian who remigrated back to Benin. I purchased some of his art.
Stade de l’amitié (General Mathieu Kerekou Friendship Stadium)
I walked around the stadium during my first day in Benin. It was pretty large and a portion of it was being renovated which prevented me from going inside of the Stadium. However, that did not seem to stop the fun from taking place outside of the stadium. There were people exerising, playing football (soccer), and sitting with their friends. It is a cool hangout spot. At night the area become a buzz for nearby restaruants and bars.
This too is another public square that showases Benin’s history and their independence from france.
La Porte Du Non Retour
I was really taken aback while visitng La Porte Du Non Retour and the surrounding area because those were the last places the enslaved African were housed before they boarded those soul depleting european ships to Latin America, South America, and North America.
Da Silva Museum
Da Silva Museum was my favorite museum to visist while in Porto-Novo, Benin. The museum is a must visit for historian lovers and people who want to know Benins comprehnsive history, how the African continent is the originator of blackness, and how we as desendants of Africa are greatly indepted to her and vice versa.
And that’s it folks!
What are your thoughts?
Please share and comment.