Hidden Secrets of West Africa

Posted by Crooked Compass

West Africa - an incredibly fascinating and eye-opening part of the world. Home to desolate desert landscapes, unique wildlife encounters and 32,201,579 MILLION people whom reveal themselves in extraordinary festivals characterised by dancing and chanting, hypnotic music and the mysterious world of masks and secret societies, this is Africa untouched!

Dogon Mask Dancer, Mali
Dogon Mask Dancer, Mali

We share with you five hidden secrets of West Africa that showcase what this incredible part of the world has to offer.

1. The Niokolo-Koba National park

The Niokolo-Koba National Park is a World Heritage Site and a naturally protected area in south eastern Senegal near the Guinea-Bissau border. Covering an area of 913,000 hectares, this biologically rich national park is home to 80 species of mammals, over 350 species of birds and nearly 1500 species of flora. Leopards, lions, hippos, baboons and antelope are all found (although not always easily spotted) here. Its terrain encompasses riparian forest, various waterways and dry savannah, making it an incredible destination to visit!

Africa, Niokolo-Koba national park, Senegal. Crooked Compass
Photo Credit: Safari Index

2. Tata Somba Houses “Tata Village”

The Tata Somba Houses are a handful of traditional dwellings in the area around Natitingou whose design recalls that of castles. The tribe of people living in the Atacora region in Northern Benin are referred to as the 'Somba'”. In the Somba language, the word for fortress is 'Tata', so Tata Somba refers to a fortress of Somba People. It is definitely worth checking out these unique and fascinating villages and witnessing how the Tatas live their unique lifestyles.

Tata Village, Benin, Africa, Crooked Compass
Photo Credit: Anguerde

3. Voodoo Festival Ouidah

In Ouidah, a small town and former slave port in Benin, the annual voodoo festival gathers visitors from far and wide to commemorate the estimated 20 million people who lost their homelands and their freedom during the African slave trade. The festival encompasses locals decked out in traditional costumes, copious amounts of dancing and chanting, as well as animal sacrifices at shrines. The peak of the festival is in the last two days and it is definitely worth witnessing if you plan on travelling to Benin in early January.

Voodoo Festival, Ouidah, Benin, Africa, Tribe, Festival, Crooked Compass
Photo Credit: World Kapook

4. Grand Popo

Grand-Popo is a wonderful beach town located in the far southwest of Benin. Once a major slave port, the town is now celebrated for its long beach lined with coconut palms and a chosen destination for many locals to relax and unwind. Witness the local fisherman bringing in their daily catch, explore the main town bustling with local markets and shops or even join in with the locals playing soccer and cricket on the beach!

Grand Po-po,, Benin, Beach, Crooked Compass
Photo Credit: Village Le Desir

5. Lake Tanganyika

Lake Tanganyika is an African Great Lake and is the second oldest freshwater lake in the world estimated to be over 10 million years old! It covers approximately 32,900 square kms and forms the boundary between Tanzania, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Burundi and Zambia. Lake Tanganyika is attracting more and more travellers each year due to its white sandy beaches, snorkelling in the crystal clear waters with multi-coloured tropical fish and to observe the vast amounts of fishermen bringing in their daily catch whilst witnessing a magnificent sunset. Lake Tanganyika is often described as the Thailand of West Africa!

Lake Tanganyika, Burundi, Lakes, Africa, Crooked Compass
Photo Credit: Mia D'Andrea's Photography

Want to make these experiences yours? Check out our African small group tours!