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Atakora is Benin’s north-western region, an area which hosts a number of the country’s major sites, most notably the Pendjari National Park and the so-called Somba Houses (Tata Somba); unique, double storey fortified dwellings that are vernacular to Atakora.
Pendjari National Park is a protected biosphere reserve blanketed with numerous indigenous shrubs, majestic baobab trees, and native flowers blossoming next to serene lakes and ponds. Elephants and hippopotami can be seen bathing in the Pendjari River, fruit bats clutter the trees and lions, cheetahs and jackals roam the savannah. The best time to see wildlife is May-June, when the terrain is blanketed in greenery due to light rains. From July to late October, the flowers bloom with the heavy rains, though some trails maybe closed due to high water. Pendjari hosts a number of eco tourism projects, offering services from standard guided walks and safari, to canoe rides and mountain biking and traditional dancing.Read more
Bracing the borders of Togo and Burkina Faso, Atakora is considered Benin’s most ethnically diverse region. Local animist beliefs, customs and traditions and distinct architecture are all noticeable. The villages of the Pendjari are characterised by Tata Sombas – fascinating, tower-like huts whose form follows a sort of local version of feng shui; doors are always placed on the western side which is believed to be the direction of life and thresholds are scattered with voodoo alters. The dwellings, which are clustered into compounds, are considered to have their own life and genre, though their basic shape is a symbol of fertility. Women decorate them with their fingertips, engraving designs on the wet mud. One fascinating local village is Taneka Koko, which is ruled by an animist priest, recognisable by his long, brass pipe that is always has in hand.