Nigeria

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Opportunities for visitors to West Africa are endless. Explore wild rainforests, deserts, and beaches; experience the intoxicating music scene in vibrant cities; visit the remnants of legendary empires; or experience the dark side of history at one of the many former slave forts that dot the coast.

Things to do in Nigeria

Adrar Region, Mauritania

This dreamlike region is home to immense oceans of sand, sparkling oases, volcanic plateaus, and the ancient Saharan towns of Chinguetti and Ouadane. Try travel agency Tivoujar for trips around the region.

Tivoujar, Mauritania,
Tags: family | hiking | things to do | outdoors | tour

Atlantic coast resorts, The Gambia

The Gambia’s Atlantic coastline is tourist central, packed with bars, clubs, casinos, and resorts catering to high-end tourists as well as backpackers. Try Ngala Lodge in Fajara, a stylish beachside boutique hotel housed in an old colonial mansion.

Ngala Lodge, 64 Atlantic Blvd., Fajara, 011-220-449-40-45, www.ngalalodge.com
Tags: beach | historic | smart splurge | things to do

Coastal slave forts and castles

West Africa’s coastline is littered with the battered remnants of European forts and castles, built to protect interests in the trade of gold, ivory, and slaves. One of the most famous sites is St George’s castle in Elmina, Ghana.

Prime Resorts and Tours, Ghana, 011-233-21-305-786, www.primetoursghana.org
Tags: things to do | culture | history

Djenné

Dating from around 800 AD, Djenné is one of the oldest surviving cities in West Africa. Its Great Mosque, completed in 1907, is the largest mud building in the world. Tara Africa Tours offers custom group and individual tours.

Tara Africa Tours, Baco Djicoroni, Bamako, 011-223-28-70-91, www.tara-africatours.com
Tags: things to do | culture | architecture | history

Freetown Peninsula

Sunbathe on some of West Africa’s most stunning beaches, have a seafood dinner at a beachside restaurant, or head to the nearby Banana islands for some serious snorkeling and diving.

Sierra Leone,
Tags: beach | water sports | things to do

Island hopping, Cape Verde

Cape Verde is an archetypal tropical paradise infused with a mixture of African and Latin vibes. You can windsurf, scale a volcano, go deep-sea fishing, scuba dive, or explore crumbling colonial cities. We recommend Cabetur tour operator.

Cabetur, Rua Serpa Pinto, Praia, 011-238-260-37-56, www.cabetur.cv
Tags: beach | family | water sports | things to do | outdoors

Kejetia Market

This gargantuan market, one of the largest in West Africa, sprawls across central Kumasi. It’s a bewildering mass of stalls, selling everything from kente cloth to cooking pots to fetish items.

Kumsai, 4 hours north of Accra,
Tags: shopping | things to do | culture

Mount Cameroon

West Africa’s highest mountain, at 13,435 feet, is still an active volcano. It’s a two-day, one-night hike though scrub and open grassland to the top and back, although a gentler three-day, two-night hike is recommended for novices.

Mount Cameroon Inter-Communal Ecotourism Board, Buea Market, Buea, 011-237-332-20-38, www.mountcameroon.org
Tags: hiking | things to do | outdoors

Ouidah

An important center for voodoo, Ouidah also figures prominently in the history of the slave trade. Follow the route des esclaves, the last walk on African soil taken by thousands of slaves bound for the New World.

Ouidah Museum of History, Rue van Vollenhoven, Ouidah, 011-229-21-34-10-21, www.museeouidah.org
Tags: things to do | culture | history | museum

Parc National de Waza

Cameroon’s most famous and accessible national park is an unspoiled gem. You can see elephants, hippos, giraffes and, if you’re very lucky, lions and hyenas.

Cameroon, 011-237-984-15-73, www.parcdewaza.com
Tags: family | things to do | wildlife | national park

Royal palaces of Abomey

From the early 17th to the late 19th century, Benin was home to the kingdom of Dahomey, one of the most powerful empires in Africa. In the town of Abomey you can visit the relics of the empire and hear the bloody history of its kings.

Musée Historique d'Abomey, Rue du Palais Royal, Abomey, 011-229-22-50-03-14, www.epa-prema.net/abomey
Tags: things to do | culture | history | museum

Timbuktu

Once the center of a powerful Malian empire, and an important intellectual and trade center of the Islamic world, its name still conjures up an air of mystery. Visit 13th-century mud-brick mosques, bargain for silver and colorful headscarves, and view the city’s ancient texts. Arrange for a guide through the local tourist office.

Bureau Regional du Tourisme, Rue Mohamed V, 011-223-222-5673
Tags: family | things to do | culture | history

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