There was a presidential election in Benin on 3/13. The election was supposed to have been held several months earlier but there were delays due to numerous issues with voter registration. The 3/13 vote was supposed to be a primary. There were 14 candidates one of which was the incumbent president Yahi Boni. There would typically have been a run-off election with the top winners of the primary. However Yahi Bonin came out with over 50% of the first vote so he has been declared the winner.
On Saturday 3/26 there were protests against these results and police roadblocks started to show up in at least Cotonou and Port Novo. The police are just out; didn't see or hear of any incidents. The residents said that as a 'yovo' (white person/stranger) you aren't likely to be stopped by the police. Don't know if anything will come of this but travelers might want to know the current situation.
I was a bit wary about exit borders after last year's bother at Cotonou airport.
This trip we left Benin to go into Burkina Faso at the Porga border checkpoint, in the North close to Pendjari National Park.
I had no problems at all this time. This may have been due to the fact Alex, my guide, was with me or maybe this border point is just more relaxed…………….
Beware of the immigration police at Cotonou airport! My trip went very smoothly until departure when I got to the desk with my boarding card and passport and was told that my visa had expired! Of course it hadn’t, but the fact that I didn’t speak French didn’t help me to explain that it hadn’t. Luckily I had plenty of time before the flight so kept calm and didn’t panic. Eventually he let me through after I stood my ground for about 15 minutes. Obviously he was expecting a “tip” which he didn’t get from me. But I did see money handed over by a man before me in the queue, who was a local man, not a tourist. The immigration officer tried the same trick with some local women too but they also stood their ground.
I would advise checking in early at Cotonou in case this happens - if they see you are concerned about missing your flight they may well take advantage.
Funnily enough there was no unpleasantness about it - it was all done with perfect charm and smiles!
Although I found noise and dust levels quite acceptable everywhere else in Benin, Cotonou is really something else. The amount of mopeds being used as taxis does little to allay this, as the exhaust blast is just by your face if you've got the window open !!!
Be prepared for a long winded check in procedure at Cotonou airport. I passed through 10 separate checks on either my passport, my tickets or my luggage before I cold get on to the plane. Each stage was met with a polite suggestion that a "little gift" may be a good idea. I got through uncathed, but a fellow traveller had to give gifts to a total of approx £50 before being allowed on to the plane. Be warned! have no cash a sweet smile or both!!
Be very careful where you eat. This is a photo of one of the many open air butcher shops. As you can see, the meat is hanging out in the open air. You do not know how long this meat has been, there along with everything else in the air and the many hands that have handled it along with the various species of insects that like to visit these areas.
If you're thinking about going from Benin into Nigeria, please educate yourself about Nigeria. Make sure your passports/visas are in order. Expect to be solicited by 'touts' who offer their 'assistance' in getting you through the border. Beware of open solicitations from 'Officials' on the Nigerian side. Please drive with care once you're inside Nigeria.
Avoid to take the road in the night by bus or by car, it is very dangerous not only for your money but even for your life. there are robbers and during the night they try sometines to kill you, just for money...
Do not show your valuable, it is not good for you and for them, this country is very poor.
The market area in Cotonou is quite safe but it is good to be vigilant. The bridges are better avoided at night.
Of anthropological interest was the large number of Hindu shopkeepers, reminiscent of their ancestors in East Africa.
Lebanese own many of the middle sized businesses.
I ate at some very good french restaurants and one, peculiarly enough, Thai restaurant.
Tailors vending their trade would make comfortable shirt and shorts from the materials bought elsewhere in the market within a matter of hours.
Be very careful of malaria. I DO NOT recomend Lariam as a prophylaxis. It has bad side effects. I actually recommend getting Doxicylcine. It is MUCH cheaper, works better and has no side effects.
Also, I strongly recommend not going out at night.
If you decide that you want to go the the beach, only go to a guarded beach. I recommend going to the guarded beach in Okpokba (Sp??) across the old bridge, near the big mill.
This is a open air fish market. The temperature is about 100+ degrees, the flies come in the thousands so you can only imagine what this area smells like. Do not eat the fish.
the main danger is to travel by night by car or by bus in the cities and in the country
there are some robers sometimes and policement are asking sometimes to pay a travel tax, why ?
Lovely and very clean stay at the Ibis. They remind you in every-way that they are only providing a...more
Bld De La Marina
Satisfaction: Very Good
Good for: Families
This lovely hotel sits on the edge of the Lagoon and my room overlooked it quite literally – the...more