The stilted houses and pirogues of Ganvie

The stilted houses and pirogues of Ganvie

Ganvie lies on the western fringes of Lake Nokoué in southern Benin. That simple description hides the town’s improbable existence – Ganvie physically exists on the water, away from the shores, the 30,000 inhabitants living out their daily lives on stilted houses and in the pirogues that buzz between the 3,000-odd buildings. The sights can be reminiscent of South East Asia, with unwieldy buildings perched precariously alongside lively floating markets. But then add unmistakeably West African moments, such as locals selling voodoo fetishes from their canoes, and you have a concoction of unique charm. To ask what there is to do here is to miss the point of visiting Ganvie; just drift along and savour the monumentally alien atmosphere of daily life here.