The Floating Village of Ganvie, Benin.

The Floating Village of Ganvie

You: Yetty, the explorer, where are you today?

Yetty: *smiling*. Today, I am in Ganvie village, known as the Venice of Africa, probably the largest lake village in Africa.

Tell us more…

Where is Ganvie located?

Ganvie lake village is located on a lake, Lake Nokoué, Cotonou, Benin. Her inhabitants are about 20,000 population with an average number of 100 tourists visiting per day to experience Ganvie.

The People of Ganvie

The Tofinu people “watermen”, inhabits Ganvie Lake village.

During the slave era, either the 16th or 17th century, in a bid to run to safety, the Tofinu people evaded the Fon tribe, (the slave capturers) who traded off slaves to the Europeans, onto the lake. Apparently, the Fon tribe’s religious practices forbade raids dwelling on water and sadly because of that reason, they couldn’t give the Tofinu people a hot chase on the lake. Consequently, the Tofinu people habited the place happily, felt safe again and began to build bamboo houses on suspended stilts into the lake, multiplying in size, they created Ganvie!

Today, Ganvie is a Tourist destination.

Originally based on farming, the current predominant occupation of the people are fishing and tourism.

Venice of Africa?

Just like Venice, Ganvie shares some similarities.

  1. You can only access Ganvie just through a means of transportation; Boat.
  2. It’s on the tentative list of the UNESCO world heritage sites in 1996.
  3. A tourist destination.
  4. It is also a floating village.

Contrarily, just as Venice, Ganvie also has tendencies of experiencing over-tourism as inhabitants are irritated by tourists, who pry in their daily activities with the lenses of their cameras. They are warm to tourists but just like a total eclipse, very quick to rebuke one at the sight of any lens.

Ganvie Community

Ganvie’s houses, shops, churches, hotels, and restaurants built on bamboo and wooden stilts, suspends several feet above the water. Also, Ganvie has a floating market where the villagers display their wares. Ganvie has art and craft shops where they display crafts attributable to them.

The town has one only complete patch of land, which is the site of the village school. Interestingly,   all the sand was imported by the people of Ganvie in their boats for the construction of the school. Subsequently, they also plan to import much more for the construction of a proper cemetery.

How do I get to Ganvie?

You can access the boats going to Ganvie through the Abomey-Calavie jetty in Cotonou, Benin.

There is a tourist information center just by the jetty where one has to pay entrance fees. Meanwhile, as at the time of visit with my team, the amount paid was 4050 cefas each, with a tour guide (Eric).

Day-trippers (tourists) spend 2hrs at the village inclusive of the boat ride to the village. It takes approximately 30 mins return on the boat.

Ten things to do in Ganvie

  1. Take Yetty along, yes you heard right, lol.
  2. Experience the boat ride to Ganvie.
  3. Enjoy the scenery and free air.
  4. Visit the restaurant for some drinks and food, importantly fish.
  5. Take beautiful photos and create memorable scenes.
  6. Appreciate nature and appreciate the people.
  7. Purchase some crafts as souvenirs for family and friends.
  8. You can lodge in the hotel to experience living like a villager.
  9. Learn their tribal language.
  10. Take a tour around the village.

Leave a Reply