Ghana is a welcoming country suitable for the first time visitor to Africa. It was the first to drop colonialism, and through gold became wealthy and stable. Ghana has the biggest artificial lake in the world and produces some of Africa’s best highlife music. Travellers should sample the modern and ancient cultures, explore Ghana’s historic slave ports, and soak up the sun on its beautiful beaches.

Benin is the birthplace of voodoo and the seat of one of West Africa’s most powerful kingdoms which extended far beyond its borders. Visitors can find remnants of the vast palaces of the formidable Dahomey empire, take boat rides through villages built entirely on stilts, see hippos eyeballing them in murky rivers, stop off at deserted beaches where slave ships once sailed and see stunning indigenous architecture.

Togo is a tiny country blessed with deserted palm-lined beaches, a fascinating culture and friendly people. Upcountry are beautiful hills and plateaus while the region around Kpalimé in the southwest is particularly scenic and renowned for its butterflies. The famous fortress-like mud-brick houses of the Tamberma people can be seen in the Kabyé region. Koutammakou, inhabited by the Batammariba people, is also a traditional settlement of fortress like clay huts dating to the 17th century. In the capital, Lomé, are the multistory Grand Marché bazaar and the Fetish Market, offering traditional talismans and remedies relating to the vodun (voodoo) religion.