The Stilt Village on Ganvié, Benin’s, Lake Nokoué

There’s actually a West African community that resides and makes a living on the water in Benin. It is the stilt village of Ganvié in the center of Lake Nokoué in the Republic of Benin. The men in this community catch the fish on what looks like a dugout canoe and the women prepare and sell the fish at the market in town.

Originally based on farming, the village’s main industries other than tourism, are now fishing and fish farming. UNESCO’s World Heritage has already documented the city as a tourist attraction for its uniqueness however,  the people, especially the women, don’t like to have their photos taken and are known to be aggressive with their protests.

Ganvié was created around the 16th or 17th centuries by the Tofinu people who fled the dominant Kingdom of Dahomey to avoid the Fon warriors capturing slaves for sale to European traders. The Chief of the Tofinu tribe gathered his people and came up with the idea of living on the waters which, according to the Tofinu religious beliefs, threatening people who lived in the water would be punished by the gods.

The village was one of the stops during our long journey from Ouidah to Dassa, Benin. Welcome to the lake and stilt village of Ganvié, Benin.

The stilt village on Lake Nokoué, a brackish estuary north of Cotonou, in Ganvié, Benin. (Jan. 11, 2019)
Entering the stilt village on Lake Nokoué in Ganvié, Benin, catching this young man enjoying the lake. (Jan. 11, 2019)
A structure built on stilts on Lake Nokoue in the stilt village of Ganvié, Benin. (Jan. 11, 2019)
The mosque on Lake Nokoué in the stilt village of Ganvié, Benin.
A woman transporting her colorful bowls in her carved out canoe through the stilt village of Ganvié on Benin’s Lake Nokoué. (Jan. 11, 2019)
Our guide, Amadee with TransAfrica standing in the middle of the boat, providing our group with some insight on the people of the stilt village of Ganvié who call Lake Nokoué home in Benin. (Jan. 11, 2019)
The stilt village of Ganvié in the center of Lake Nokoué in Benin. The children of the village learn to swim at a very early age. (Jan. 11, 2019)
The stilt village of Ganvié in the center of Lake Nokoué in Benin. (Jan. 11, 2019)
The stilt village of Ganvié in the center of Lake Nokoué in Benin. (Jan. 11, 2019)
The stilt village of Ganvié in the center of Lake Nokoué in Benin. (Jan. 11, 2019)
The stilt village of Ganvié in the center of Lake Nokoué in Benin. (Jan. 11, 2019)
The stilt village of Ganvié in the center of Lake Nokoué in Benin. (Jan. 11, 2019)
The stilt village of Ganvié in the center of Lake Nokoué in Benin. (Jan. 11, 2019)
The water hyacinths that grow in Lake Nokoué in Benin’s stilt village of Ganvié provides a natural cleanliness to the water since the Lake is used for bathing and as toilet facilities. A water treatment plants provides clean water. (Jan. 11, 2019)
The water hyacinths that grow in Lake Nokoué in Benin’s stilt village of Ganvié provides a natural cleanliness to the water since the Lake is used for bathing and as toilet facilities. A water treatment plants provides clean water. (Jan. 11, 2019)
Fake land is built on top of the water of Lake Nokoué in Benin’s stilt village of Ganvié to build this inn that provides very basic rooms rent and gift shops. (Jan. 11, 2019)
Fake land is built on top of the water of Lake Nokoué in Benin’s stilt village of Ganvié to build this inn that provides very basic rooms rent and gift shops. (Jan. 11, 2019)
This wooden sculpture of a woman can be seen as we entered the inn on Lake Nokoué in Benin’s stilt village of Ganvié. The inn provides very basic rooms rent and gift shops. (Jan. 11, 2019)
Me and a few members of my tour group at one of the gift shops at the the inn on Lake Nokoué in Benin’s stilt village of Ganvié. (Jan. 11, 2019)
The stilt village of Ganvié in the center of Lake Nokoué in Benin. The women wear large straw hats to block the sun and to cover their faces when tourists ride by because many of them don’t like to have their photos taken. (Jan. 11, 2019)
Fishing is typically with a small crew in dugout canoes catching small batches of fish just outside of the Ganvié stilt village in the center of Benin’s Lake Nokoué. (Jan. 11, 2019)
Fishing is typically with a small crew in dugout canoes catching small batches of fish just outside of the Ganvié stilt village in the center of Benin’s Lake Nokoué. (Jan. 11, 2019)
Close to the market and pier area the women of Ganvié’s stilt village in Benin set up basket nets close to the market, where the fish are sold, to keep the fish fresh and ready for sale at the market. (Jan. 11, 2019)
The market along the pier of Ganvié where the women from the stilt village, on Benin’s Lake Nokoué, sell their fish. We visited the market, but photos are not allowed. (Jan. 11, 2019)
The market along the pier of Ganvié where the women from the stilt village, on Benin’s Lake Nokoué, sell their fish. We visited the market, but photos are not allowed. (Jan. 11, 2019)
The market along the pier of Ganvié where the women from the stilt village, on Benin’s Lake Nokoué, sell their fish. We visited the market, but photos are not allowed. (Jan. 11, 2019)
The market along the pier of Ganvié where the women from the stilt village, on Benin’s Lake Nokoué, sell their fish. We visited the market, but photos are not allowed. (Jan. 11, 2019)
The market along the pier of Ganvié where the women from the stilt village, on Benin’s Lake Nokoué, sell their fish. We visited the market, but photos are not allowed. (Jan. 11, 2019)
The market along the pier of Ganvié where the women from the stilt village, on Benin’s Lake Nokoué, sell their fish. We visited the market, but photos are not allowed. (Jan. 11, 2019)
The market along the pier of Ganvié where the women from the stilt village, on Benin’s Lake Nokoué, sell their fish. We visited the market, but photos are not allowed. (Jan. 11, 2019)