Travel to Benin (Podcast) – Amateur traveler

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Travel to Benin (Podcast)

Learn about the trip to the West African country of Benin as the amateur traveler speaks to Rachel Decoste who traveled there as part of a journey to discover her roots.

Rachel says: “I took a DNA test two years ago, I’m African-Canadian, which means my ancestors came here as African slaves, we don’t know where from. And I thought the DNA test would be a good way to find out where my origins came from, after doing the DNA tests, it was one of the best countries with Togo, Nigeria, the whole region, really. And then I took a trip there for six months to Benin, it was one of the five countries I visited.

“What I liked about Benin was that it was authentic, in the sense that it hasn’t yet been too Americanized in Western eyes, they still wear traditional clothes, drink their traditional teas and eat traditional food. And it really felt like you were transported back in time. They have kept their culture almost intact. This is why you would prefer to go to Benin rather than another country which might be more westernized. There is something authentic in Benin, which is so heartwarming.

Benin is about the same size as Ohio. Rachel offers a one to two week itinerary that explores the southern part of the country, including Cotonou, Ouidah, Ganvie, Abomey and Porto-Novo.

Rachel starts us off in the largest city of Cotonou. It’s a town on the shore. She doesn’t recommend beaches like Obama Beach or Dream Beach for swimming because of the currents but she loved seeing the families there wearing their matching colorful clothes. You can have your own clothes made by one of the tailors at Dantokpa Market. Every local can recommend someone.

Rachel enjoyed the food in Cotonou, whether it was the fish street food vendor or the fancy restaurant with upscale cuisine.

The next city she visited was the town of Ouidah, where many slaves left Africa for other parts of the world when the slave trade was active. You can visit the Gate of No Return which is a monument to those who were sold into slavery here. You can also visit the Portuguese Fort with a museum on the slave trade.

Ouidah is also known as a center of voodoo. You can visit the Temple of the Python or come to town for the Vodoun Festival to learn more about this practice. Just don’t ask Rachel to touch the snakes.

Ganvie is an unusual African lakeside village. The people of Ganvié fled to the center of the lake to avoid the powerful tribes who were capturing their fellow Africans to sell them into the slave trade.

The city of Abomey is the former capital of the Kingdom of Dahomey (1600-1904). The royal palaces of Abomey are listed as a UNESCO world heritage site. The local Fon people have been a major power in the region for centuries.

Rachel ends our itinerary in the capital of Porto-Novo. Here she directs us to two museums that interpret African culture and the struggle for freedom of Africans in Africa and beyond.

Rachel also recommends two side trips. The first concerns the beaches of Grand-Popo and the second the nightlife of Lomé, in the neighboring country of Togo. If you have more time, she’s heard great things about Pendjari National Park in the north.

Whether or not your heritage includes Africa, Rachel recommends the country of Benin, its people and its culture. Rachel recounts her visit in the audiobook Year of Return.

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This episode is sponsored by Upstart is a leading artificial intelligence (AI) lending platform designed to improve access to affordable credit.

“At Upstart, we believe people matter more than their credit score. We want to empower people to take control of their debt and their financial future.

Get out of the system

This episode of Amateur Traveler is sponsored by Expediathe flagship travel show Get out of the system. Learn where to stay, what to do, and how to live like a local.

right click here to download (mp3)

Show notes

Year of Return: the return of a black woman to Africa | Audiobook | UNITED STATES
Restaurant Le Privé (Cotonou)
Obama Beach (Cotonou)
Dream beach (Cotonou)
Dantokpa Market
Gate of No Return, Ouidah
Ouidah – The Slave Route of Benin
Temple of the Pythons
Vodoun Festival
Fort of São João Baptista de Ajudá
Ganvie Lake Village – Cotonou, Benin – Atlas Obscura
Royal Palaces of Abomey – UNESCO World Heritage Center
Porto Novo
Ethnographic Museum of Porto Novo (Porto-Novo)
da Silva Museum (Porto-Novo)
Pendjari National Park


On Trip to the Galapagos Islands, Ecuador – Episode 755

Chris, I’ve been listening to your podcasts for a few months now (mostly while I’m hiking.) I enjoy the variety of destinations and guests, and especially your dry sense of humor!

The Galapagos episode was awesome – a trip down memory lane for me. We were there in 2013 and we simply loved it! I agree with you that the best Galapagos experiences happen in the water. We snorkeled with turtles, sea lions, iguanas and even penguins! (Yes, the water was definitely cold enough for the penguins.) It was a real treat to be so close to these amazing creatures, sharing their natural habitat.

You didn’t mention there was a book (Floreana by Margret Wittmer) about the inhabitants of the island Floreana which tells the incredible story of the German doctor and his mistress, as well as a German baroness and her two wives. What a diversity of characters! I read the book before our trip but I admit that the stories and people are super weird so the book may not be for everyone.
Moreover, we continued our trip to the Galapagos with the Inca Trail trek, which was a nice dual-destination vacation package – for active travelers of course!


On Trip to Florida’s Space Coast – Episode 756:

Two comments on the episode. At NASA’s Kennedy Space Center is the National Astronaut Memorial (AKA Space Mirror), designated by Congress and authorized on 5/8/1991, which honors the 25 astronauts who lost their lives during space missions. And, just to the north, is the Canaveral National Seashore for its beaches and sea turtles.

Jeff Ohlfs

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Travel to Benin (Podcast) |  Places to go in Benin #africa #benin #travel #travel #vacations #things to do #places Travel to Benin (Podcast) |  Places to go in Benin #africa #benin #travel #travel #vacations #things to do #places

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