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If you go to Benin

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Where to go: Ganvie — near Cotonou and Porto-Novo and often called the Venice of Africa, is picturesque and worth a visit. Abomey's museums have excellent examples of West African art. The national parks of Pendjari and Parc National du "W" du Niger, in the extreme northern section of Benin, offer opportunities to see elephants, lions, hippos and monkeys.

Entry information: A U.S. passport is required. A visa also must be obtained before leaving the United States from the Embassy of the Republic of Benin, Chancery: (1-202-232-6656; fax 1-202-265-1996).

Immunizations: Yellow fever vaccination is required; the following vaccinations are strongly recommended: typhoid, meningitis, hepatitis A, polio and tetanus/diphtheria. Either Lariam or Malarone must be taken as a precaution against malaria.

Useful Web sites: www.countrywatch.com/files/019/cw_country.asp?v COUNTRY=019; www.traveldocs.com/bj/index.htm