If you're heading to West Africa to unearth lost treasure, look no further than Benin. This club-shaped country, on the western edge of Nigeria, was once one of the most powerful empires in Africa – the Dahomey kingdom. The ruins of the Dahomeyans' palaces and temples can be seen in Abomey, while Ouidah is a poignant reminder of where their riches came from: the slave trade. The Route des Esclaves in Ouidah was the last walk on African soil for slaves bound for Brazil and the Caribbean.

Not only is Benin a richly historical and cultural country, this politically stable nation is one of the easiest parts of West Africa to travel in.