At the unique floating village of Ganvie in Benin, you will witness the villagers do all their daily activities like shopping, working, transporting, and socializing from their small wooden canoes (pirogues). You will experience children waving from their houses build on stilts over the lake. It is amazing to know that over 20.000 people live here on water several miles from the nearest shoreline.
The villagers of Ganvie mostly live of fishing, and to a very small scale of tourism industry. Ganvie is still a pretty unknown tourist destination. Therefore, most people still live like they did hundreds of years ago. What makes visiting this place extra interesting!
So why building a village in the middle of a lake? Around 400 years ago, during the slave trade, the Tofinu tribe built the village in an attempt to escape from being captured by the Fon tribe. The Fon people were forbidden for religious and traditional reasons to fight in water. Hence the Tofinu were safe to build their homes on the water. Ganvie actually means: We survived!
Though today the threat of slavery is only a distant memory, and the people of Ganvie could have moved to solid ground, they do not wish to do so. This because they have over many generations gotten accustomed to live on the water, and therefore do not want to abandon their unique lifestyle. This floating African village is completely sustainable, and the only time villagers go ashore is when they want to sell their fish.
If you want to see something truly unique on your next big trip overseas, why not consider visiting Ganvie? They call it the African Venice. Though I would claim it is not exactly Venice. It lacks the romance. However, it is equally unique and mystical.