Since I started thinking about Benin week, I have been looking forward to sharing this top destination in Benin. Besides shopping for fabric until I drop, this would certainly be at the to of my "Must See" list. Working on their marketing skills, Ganvié is sold as the Venice of Africa due to the fact that the entire village of over 20,000 residents that is built in the middle of Lake Nokoué.
There are multiple versions of the history floating about the net, but basically back in the 16th (or 17th) century, the Tofinu people got tired of fighting against the Fon warriors from the Dahomey Kingdom. Since Fon traditional beliefs forbade them from entering water, the Tofinu put up a village smack dead in the middle of the lake. Not only were the Tofinu people safe from Fon warriors, I'm sure many of this tribe got to avoid slave ships.
So here's the gist:
- This is more of a day-trip so it's best to leave the hotel in Cotonou and head north to the lake as early as possible. As these life-size hats suggest, I'm sure it gets nice and blazing on the lake in the middle of the day.
- As in many places these days, carry a little extra in your wallet if you plan on snapping away with your camera.
- Since fishing is the main industry in the village, be prepared to eat fish for lunch, potentially at Hotel Carrefour.
- Once you have eaten lunch and relaxed to your hearts content, head over the the gift shop to see what's in store. Be sure to have your best game face on because bargaining is the only way to survive.
- By the time you are done, the sun should be a little more relaxed and you can head on back to the shore to start your journey through the rest of the country.