GHANA – Stilt village Nzulezo on lake Tadane (Beyin); day trip from Takoradi

Nzulezo Stilt Village is a settlement entirely built on water just 90 kilometers from Takoradi. Nzulezo literally means “surface water” because the village is just above the surface of the water. The first stilt houses were built over 500 years ago on Lake Tadane near Beyin. The settlement is listed as a tentative UNESCO World Heritage Site and makes a great day trip from Takoradi. I visited Nzulezo Stilt Village on my one-week Ghana gold coast itinerary. Let me take you there in this trip report and I’m sure you’ll want to see the settlement in real life too.

Getting to Nzulezo

Although infrastructure has improved over the years, getting to Nzulezo Stilt Village is still an adventure. It’s a great adventure though and you need to be able to adjust to the local way of getting you there. I departed Takoradi at 9 AM which was too late, but I managed by skipping a fort I wanted to see that day too. Go at 7 AM and you’ll have a stressless day trip.

Nzulezo Stilt Village is just 90 kilometers from Takoradi but it’s a 2-hour drive. Set your GPS for Beyin as there is the visitors center to arrange a canoe to the settlement. Roads are good but do expect a few police check points. Have 1 dollar bills ready to pay and you’re on your way without a full check of your car. I don’t want to wait 20 minutes before I can go; 1 dollar is fine with me to speed that up.

 

When I reached the visitors center in Beyin I opted to pay for the motorized canoe not knowing they have just 3 and they just go when full. It was a 3 hour wait until finally I could board one. The other option is to take the slower canoe and peddle; it takes an hour to get there over the water. Be prepared for a chaotic trip but that’s also half of the fun getting to the Nzulezo Stilt Village. I was at the village around 2:30PM and left again after an hour or two.

Nzulezo History

The first settlers arrived at Lake Tadane over 500 years ago from Walata. Walata was a thriving city in the ancient Ghana Empire part of the West Sudanese States. It’s said that the settlers arrived there guided by a snail. No written text exist from that time so that must be taken with a grain of salt. Today, the snail is however the totem of the village and held in a shrine on the water only accessible for the chief. One thing is sure and that’s that the Nzulezo people have lived in perfect harmony with nature for all these years.

Nzulezo day trip: What to expect

When I arrived at Nzulezo Stilt Village the tour guide that came with the canoe showed me around the settlement. The main street is just 600 meters long and made of hardwood planks on stilts. There are several side streets, a bit narrower, of which the longest probably is 50 meters. It’s a small settlement with just 600 people and exploring it doesn’t take more as 2 hours; probably less. The villagers are very conservative and may only marry those from their own village, not other tribes. So, before you start shooting lots of photos of the locals ask their permission first. Have small change ready to give them.

It’s possible to do a homestay at Nzulezo Stilt Village which is something I would have done but my Ghana itinerary was already too full. If you stay overnight you’ll get to know the locals even more of course. Strolling the village, I visited the church, school, and the community hall. There, the chief or one of the elders, will tell about the community and you can make a donation. The donation goes to healthcare, school supplies and improvement of infrastructure. A good cause especially healthcare as malaria is a big problem there.

 

Walking the wooden planks over the water I saw kids jumping into the water, friends playing games, and kids helping their parents. A lot of local life! From a distance you can see the shrine in the water which is accessible by canoe but only the chief can visit the shrine. Make sure to talk to the locals, ask them what they do so that you understand the Nzulezo Stilt Village better.

Plastic has arrived at the settlement too and I sincerely hope that the waters between the settlement and shore will be cleaned up. It’s a bit messy and so easy to clean. They have lived in harmony with nature for over 500 years and a bit of plastic should not come in between. They need the fish from the lake but the Nzulezo also have farmland on the shore too where they grow vegetables.

I really enjoyed wandering around the Nzulezo Stilt Village of Beyin as it’s so unique. I have visited the floating village on the Tonle Lap lake in Cambodia and the stilt villages of Brunei but in Ghana it’s so different.

If I had to choose, they deserve a full UNESCO World Heritage Status. I hope my story inspires you to go too and explore the Nzulezo Stilt Village at lake Tadane. It’s unique, not frequent visited and a must-visit on any Ghana itinerary. You will love it.

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Did you visit Nzulezo village on stilts too or do you have questions? Please leave a comment at the bottom of the page. Love to hear from you!

Gallery Nzulezo stilt village

Check the gallery for more photos taken during this trip. If you like to use any photo for commercial, private or editorial use please contact first for permission and/or pricing.

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