One of our favourite hidden corners lies tightly nestled in West Africa, where the charming homes of a humble village rest upon stilts rooted deeply into Lake Nokoué.


Photo credit: christian.costeaux via Visual Hunt / CC BY


Ganvie is a lake village in Benin, famous for its homes built on the lake. With a population of over 30 000, it is the largest lake village in Africa.  Floating lawns spring up from the water to paint a picturesque panorama of the humble village. The Local market is a sight to see with boats neatly laid with vivid hues of fruits and vegetables.



Photo credit: D-Stanley via / CC BY




Locals pirogue from door to door, paddling up to their favourite bar to grab a drink with friends.


Photo credit: Göran Höglund (Kartläsarn) via Visualhunt / CC BY-ND







Ganvie is over 500 years old, established by the Tofinu tribe in the 16th century when attempting to escape Fon warriors seeking slaves for European traders.





Photo credit: Sara&Joachim via / CC BY-SA



The locals are refered to as “water men” and live in bamboo huts built on stilts. Residents farm fish in pens made of reeds and palm fronds, contributing to the village’s largest industry besides tourism.





3000 buildings make up the village, including a church, mosque, hospital, bank and post-office. The village’s only school is one of the few buildings not built on stilts; located off the lake, it allows for a big enough yard for the children to play football after school. Ganvie was added to the UNESCO World Heritage List in October 1996.


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