Ganvie is 18km North of Cotonou and is well worth a visit if you are Cotonou - it is one of Benin's best tourist attractions, yet is not really crowded with tourists. Boats depart from the Lakeside village of Abomey-Calavi which is a short drive from Cotonou, by car, taxi or taxi motorbike. Tickets for boats are available at the office by the jetty.
25,000 people live permanently houses built on stilts on Lake Nakoue. The whole life of the town is lived on and in the water and a trip to Ganvie is absolutely fascinating. The town was established here during the slave trade. The local King took advantage of a rule that states the Kings of Dahomey, who were capturing slaves, 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.
My trip was pre-booked and our motor boat was covered to protect us from the sun. We passed the 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.
We were welcomed to Ganvie by a boatful of local men singing. Then we toured the main street, the floating market and a few of the side streets before going to have a look at 2 other smaller Lake Villages of So-Zouko and So-Tchonhoue. We ate a delicious lunch at the hotel Germaine, which also has rooms, before returning to Abomey-Calavi late afternoon.
More info and tips are on my Ganvie page.
In some area's in Africa, inclusive Benin, it can be quite hard to find some trustable friends, with exception of the rastapeople who are in most cases quite trustable. They're peacefull and have a lot of musical talent. Try to make contact with them, for just making some music and smoking a lot of grass. It's so f*cking relaxing, and they're so nice.