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Benin > Activities > Stilt villages

Stilt Villages

Stilt villages
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Benin is known for the houses that are constructed in lakes and lagoons. Visit Benin during the dry season between December and April and you will see large fishing villages where the workers do not have to commute to work or they can take the closest boat to get to their destination. Visit during the rainy season and you will see nothing as rain causes the water to rise and the stilt villages to disappear. Aguegue is surrounded by a watery highway that can be reached from Porto-Novo in a canoe.

Stay in a house on the lagoon that is divided into large rectangular plots by straight rows of bushes planted so that roots grow close together to fish trespassing. These enclosed plots are used for raising captive fish, but the village itself is mainly on dry land. Built on stilts, their floors raised about 3 feet off the ground. Village Ganvié is another aquatic village built on a lake, 18 kilometres from Cotonou. Built on stilts made of bamboo or tree-trunks sunk into the water Ganvie is known as the “Venice of Africa”.

These colourful people and their colourful patchwork and crafts in the tourist shops draw many visitors. You will hear the local children clamber shouting “yovo, yovo” (which loosely means “white man”) and demanding “cadeaux, cadeaux” (gifts). Explore the history of these stilt villages that were created over three hundred years ago when the local tribes moved into the shallow Lake Nakoue to avoid capture and enslavement. The dominant Dahomey people dared not pursue as their spiritual beliefs forbade them from venturing into the lake.

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