Segun shares, once again, another of his african trips with ideygo. This time, he’s in Benin.
On the 27th day of December 2016 I embarked on an expedition of Western Africa. Why? Maybe because am a nigerian, I have friends there, I can communicate in French (intermediate) and English or it is safe. Above all, I took that decision because I do not need visas to cross borders (Nigeria is a member of ECOWAS – Economic Community of West African States), it is cheap and I intend to try the Border-to-border land crossing adventure.
I crossed the Nigeria-Seme-border with my backpack containing a pair of T-shirts, shorts, a face towel, water flask, international passport, the vaccination card and some few belongings. Crossing wasn’t tough, I only parted ways with about 1,500Naira at seme-border and and 1,000 at the Benin end, my french proficiency and the local ‘Fon’ language was handy.
There wasn’t much difference entering Cotonou, the capital of ‘Republique du Benin’, but a closer look shows a clear difference between an african francophone and anglophone country.
There exists a dedicated lane for motorcycles (keke) and interestingly there are more female motorcyclist compared to their male counterparts. 80% of the citizens wear the local Ankara fabrics in different styles, corporate suit inclusive, I was amazed.
As a Nigerian, we share similar staple food like rice, eba, beans and some delicacies. Most of their houses are without roofs, they adopted the open decked-roof for cloth drying and plant growing, a sort of eco-friendly life I guess.
The streets seems neat for an african setting, the corps (Genderman) can be friendly, they’ve got a stable power supply and few small manufacturing industries, notwithstanding they depend mostly on importation from developed countries.
The Francophone food expertise is obvious on their menu list in major restaurants, of which I can’t resist.
I visited their Premiere University, ‘Universite du Abomey-Calavi’ and landmarks in the Calavi environs, the central/capital area of Cotonou where landmarks Institutions are sited viz., the national stadium, ministries, embassies and the international airport, worthy of note is the ‘Palais des Congres du Cotonou’ (their biggest event center) and monumental places around the capital.
Most of the trip was on a motorbike, my friend/tour guide ‘Belinda’ rode the bike while I observe from the back seat, she is bi-lingual, and hence translation wasn’t an issue.
It was a memorable experience visiting the beach ‘Plage Erevan’, this is the neatest beach in Benin Republic, and the beach is behind ‘Erevan’ which is the biggest and highest standing supermarket in the area. The beach attracts a lot of visitors and to my surprise it is clean, good culture I must confess!
I also visited ‘ Ganvie’, a lake village lying in lake Nokoue, near Cotonou with a population of around 20,000 people, it is probably the largest lake village in Africa, hence a popular tourist site. The village was added to the UNESCO World heritage list in 1996 in the Cultural category, indeed a must-visit site for any traveller.
Night life in Cotonou can be interesting with relaxation centers and pubs around, also affordable, depending on the area and the size of your purse. I stayed with my host for the few days I toured, but an overview of hotel bookings seems affordable.
Benin Republic is a country I will re-visit again because it’s safe, affordable and have got more interesting places to explore.
All you need to visit Benin is a Motorcycle helmet and basic french (lol). Safe travels!
Thanks to Oluwasegun Akinniyi for sharing his travel story with us.
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