A forest full of voodoo deities

1043 Reviews

Star Travel Rating

3/5

Review type

Things to do

Location

Date of travel

January, 2024

Product name

The Sacred Forest

Product country

Benin

Product city

Ouidah

Travelled with

Couple

Reasons for trip

Culture/Sightseeing

The Sacred Forest or Forest of Kpassè is located on the outskirts of Ouidah, in Benin. According to folklore, when King Kpassè, a 16th century ruler of the kingdom of Whydah, felt he was going to die, he didn’t want his body to be seen by his children, but after many signs from a peacock and panther, they discovered that the King had turned into an Iroko tree.

At the entrance were two colourful murals: the head of a panther baring its teeth with the words ‘Hwendo Man Bou’ and a second of two panthers under a tree with a peacock in the branches.

Part of the forest is open for tourists and having walked through the gates, we were greeted by a statue of a Legba with a rather large erection: he is always placed at the entrance or in a central area as his role is to protect the whole place.

We continued with the guide telling us about each of the named deities arranged around a circular path. For example, Heviosso, the god of lightening and justice, and Gou, the god of war and blacksmiths. A double headed god was said to be the king’s spy as he could see out of the back of his head. The figures were either in concrete or in abstract metal work and we were told they were made by some form of collective brotherhood.

A temple led to the section of the forest where only those initiated into voodoo could enter, women on the left and men on the right. It was adorned with colourful murals and at the entrance was the circular statue ‘Dan Ayidohouedo’, a serpent-like dragon consuming its own tail.

We passed the giant iroko tree which King Kpassè turned into, and as this is the main sacred tree in the forest, priests pray every five days. We were told that if we had positive thoughts and left an offering, it would come to pass. Another tree was near a wall with a fallen tree painted on it, and according to legend, it fell and remained so for 41 days and then up righted itself again. Tour over, we had to leave via a different exit.

This was a pleasant way to spend a hot afternoon as the forest was cool and shady.

Helen Jackson

Join the club

Become a member to receive exclusive benefits

Our community is the heart of Silver Travel Advisor, we love nothing more than sharing ideas, inspiration, hints and tips between us.

Come feel the love on a Princess cruise. You’ll enjoy the MedallionClass experience others simply can’t, and it’s exclusively for everyone. Visit incredible destinations and be involved in the best experiences around each one of them.

Experience more with Princess and connect effortlessly with the world around you, spend time away with loved ones, take a moment for yourself, and fall in love with your holiday of a lifetime, every time.

With over 20 years of experience, Wendy Wu Tours has mastered the art of creating exceptional, fully inclusive tours which showcase the very best of each destination.

Each tour is led by a world-class guide, who will highlight the very best of their homeland, and includes authentic cultural experiences so you are not just seeing the sights, but truly immersing yourself in local life.

Say hello to ease at sea. Ambassador’s purpose is simple: they want to inspire every guest to experience authentic cruising, effortlessly and sustainably. Passionate about protecting our oceans and destinations, their ships comply with the highest industry emission standards and there is no single-use plastic on board.

On your voyage, you will receive the warmest of welcomes from the Ambassador community as you sail upon the friendliest ships afloat.

This is a global co-operative co-owned by local partners using real local experts and guides, which supports local communities, environments and wildlife. It offers travellers quirky places to stay, activity holidays and learning experiences. Not In The Guidebooks gets travellers off the beaten track into local culture with day experiences and longer, immersive adventures.

From wild wellness breaks in Wales to painting in Portugal, sustainable adventures in Mauritius to food safaris in Brazil, this is immersive, exciting travel.

Seabourn’s five intimate ships carry guests to the heart of great cities, exclusive yacht harbours and secluded coves around the world, while two new purpose-built expedition ships will combine exhilarating adventures in remote destinations with the sophisticated amenities of the world’s finest resorts at sea.

From the luxury of all suite accommodations to complimentary fine wines and spirits, and a no tipping policy, Seabourn exemplifies the definition of travelling well.