West Africa is the western region of Africa. In the north the region is bounded by the Sahel, and in the south and west by the Atlantic Ocean.
The most densely populated area of Africa, it is both the continent's most difficult place for travel and potentially its most rewarding.
Countries of West Africa
Benin A safe and relatively easy country for travellers to visit; birthplace of the Voodoo religion and former home of the Kingdom of Dahomey.
Burkina Faso Landlocked country that is very off the beaten path for visitors.
Cameroon Sometimes referred to as Africa in Miniature, the terrain includes rain forest, desert plains, mountains and high plateau.
Cape Verde Tiny Atlantic island group off the coast of Senegal with wonderful beaches.
Cote d'Ivoire Formerly something of a jewel in the West African crown, this nation has taken huge steps backwards due to recent religious driven conflict.
Gambia Tiny coastal nation popular with European beach package tourists and birdwatchers.
Ghana So-called "Africa for Beginners"—West Africa's richest, most-English speaking country, with highly varied landscapes, a few off-the-beaten-path beach getaways, and the solemn, imposing slave castles of the coast west of Accra.
Guinea Some great hill scenery (the Switzerland of Africa), major rainforests and Atlantic beaches, ravaged by decades of political turmoil and lawlessness.
Guinea-Bissau A former Portugese colony which has been through lots of struggle since independence and is little visited by travellers.
Liberia Settled by former African American slaves in the 19th Century, this country has been through murderous conflicts, and it is too dangerous to visit outside Monrovia.
Nigeria A vast, dangerous, chaotic, overpopulated, and always fascinating country, with great wealth—little of it shared with its people.
Senegal West Africa's other "visitor-friendly" destination, with tasty food, nice beaches, and French colonial history.
Sierra Leone Some of the best beaches anywhere in the world, and huge potential for tourism, but held back by enormous transport infrastructure problems and extreme poverty.
Togo A small, sleepy country that is home to no less than 40 different ethnic groups, and the surreal villages of Tamberma Valley.
Mostly due to the colonial past of the continent, common languages spoken in the region are French, English and Portuguese.
The African highways connect many cities in West Africa with Nigeria being the main hub.
Flying from other African cities can be dangerous as many airlines have a very poor safety record. Check this first before choosing to fly with an airline.
In order of size here are the main airline hubs.
Lagos Airport - Serveral flights per day to London. Less frequent flights also to other main cities in Europe
Dakar Airport - Many flights to to Millan, Madrid, Brussels and Paris
Accra Airport - Many flights to UK (Manchester, London, Glasgow) as well as Frankfurt.
Abidjan Airport - Flights to Paris, Brussels and Dubai
Generally it takes time - and a whole lot of patience - to move around in West Africa. The roads are not all in great conditions and many roads aren't paved. Always be sure to have an extra day or two in the end if you are going somewhere since planning is very hard when the transport is unreliable.
Go to Benin if you´re interested in voodoo because this is where it originates. There should be plenty of opportunities to go to voodoo festivals and fetish markets.
Mali has Dogon-country which is a world heritage site.
Also go to Timbuktu/tombouctou - the city known from Donald Duck magazines - and Gao which contains yet another world heritage site.
If you're interested in meeting some of the world friendliest people go to Burkina Faso or Ghana.