Our tour resumes in West Africa - and for anyone traveling across this landscape, you'll find countless mud and thatched roof huts dotting the land for as far as the eye can see. The ones we see here in Rural Congo are simple, yet beautiful - they've been a staple for the locals for thousands of years, and for good reason. They're easy and efficient to build - and they withstand the elements fairly well.
We travel further west through Nigeria and into Benin, but from this point forward, the only transportation option is by boat. We've entered one of the many swampy lagoons that dot the shoreline, and with a little help from the locals, we'll soon find one of the most unique destinations in all of Africa.
We've made it to Ganvie, Benin - called the "Venice of Africa", there's really nothing else like it in the world. When translated into English, Ganvie literally means "we survived" - a reminder of events that happened hundreds of years ago. The Tofinu people that lived in the area needed a way to escape the slave trade - so they moved to stilt houses on top of the surrounding Lake Nokoué. It was their only option - and they were finally able to find peace here.
West Africa is known particularly well for its beautiful beaches and scenery - and few can compare to the ones you might find on the coastlines of Ghana. With their natural beauty and an occasional shipwreck or two like the ones found in Fete - these beaches have attracted countless tourists from across the globe.
As we make our way further west through the dense jungle, its a common sight to see local markets dot the landscape in countries such as Guinea. Just about everything imaginable is sold here - livestock, poultry, yams, sweet potatoes, and of course, lots and lots of green bananas. We take a look around, picking up a couple pieces of authentic African clothing as well - a beautiful reminder of our tour.
Although elephants have been hunted to the point of near extinction in West Africa due to the demand for their ivory tusks, there's still a number of places to find them if you look hard enough. Niokolo-Koba National Park in Senegal is one of the best remaining spots, and jungle safaris are one of the most popular tourist attractions. Move slowly, though - you never know when a wild chimpanzee might dart across the road in front of you..
Our last stop is one of the most historically important cities in all of West Africa - Timbuktu. This desert city was once a great trading post for goods traveling from West to North Africa - back in the 1300s, you might have even seen the legendary Mansa Musa (emperor of the Kingdom of Mali) pass through these streets with his caravan. Musa himself played a pivotal role in this history of Timbuktu - with a net worth of over $400 billion, he built mosques wherever he went. This included the great Djinguereber Mosque back in 1327, among others - all of which would be turned into universities and helped to turn Timbuktu into a great educational city as well. When you walk through these streets, you really feel like your stepping back in time - not much has changed over the years, and its truly a one of a kind experience.
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