"GANVIE, The Venice of Africa" Ganvie by janiebaxter

Ganvie Travel Guide: 15 reviews and 47 photos

The Power of Magic

Ganvie a is must-see on a visit to Benin. 25,000 people live permanently on Lake Nakoue in houses built on stilts.
The town was established here during the early 1700’s when the Kings of Dahomey were raiding many villages and capturing the people to sell as slaves. The local King of the Toffa people, Abodohoue, took advantage of a religious rule that states the Kings of Dahomey could not pursue their enemies over water as the Juju (magic) would work against them, and also the lake was out of range of their guns. So the King took his people to safety and the town has stood on the Lake ever since.

Living on the Water

The whole life of the town is lived on and in the water and the town is set out with a main street, a market place – floating of course, and side streets, churches, graveyards, mosques and a school. There is even a Lovers Lane. Most houses do not have electricity so people use kerosene or solar power or cook on a fire.

Fishing on the Lake

Most people make a living from fishing on Lake Nakoue. There are many fish farms along the journey to Ganvie and many people coming and going from Ganvie to Abomey-Calavi to sell fish or to buy goods sold at the lakeside or in the market.

See my main Benin pages for more general information on Benin.

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:Great for photos, very interesting and unique
  • Cons:Not everybody is happy to be photographed
  • In a nutshell:A real must-see
  • Last visit to Ganvie: Mar 2008
  • Intro Updated May 5, 2008
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Reviews (12)

Comments (3)

  • lynnehamman's Profile Photo
    Jul 8, 2009 at 6:53 AM

    Another great African page, Janie. The Fish Farming tip is interesting. Hotel Germaine looks really good.I would love to see Benin one day (sigh!!)

  • Bwana_Brown's Profile Photo
    Jul 4, 2009 at 12:03 PM

    Another beautiful page on Benin - an amazing watery paradise and a unique fish-farming technique too! The Water Hyacinths tip was very interesting, reminding me of a similar plant invasion I saw on the Sepik River in remote Angoram, Papua New Guinea.

  • Pinat's Profile Photo
    Jun 26, 2009 at 7:35 AM

    You were the featured member when I logged in. Then I clicked on travel pages and randomly I clicked on one place and totally loved the intro picture. I'll come back to read and learn more about Africa. Greetings from sunny Ankara...


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