Africa Ghana Travels

Nzulezo – a village on stilts

December 14, 2013

Those seeking the unique and singular in their travel experiences would do well to add a visit to Nzulezo to their exploration of Ghana’s stunning West Coast. The village, built entirely on stilts suspended above the Amansuri Lake, is said to have been created over 400 years ago by refugees from Mali who were led there by a Snail God.

The journey to get there is almost more memorable then the village itself as it involves a one-hour dugout canoe ride through the Amansuri wetland, the largest stand of intact swamp forest in Ghana.

It is home to a variety of animals like monkeys, crocodiles, marine turtles and birds, the latter the easiest to spot obviously.

Since all the paddling is handled by a guide from the Ghana Wildlife Society, you’re free to just sit back and relax, and enjoy the serene ride through areas of marsh and lily-covered pools…

…as well as through lush jungle.

The river eventually opens out to the dark water of the Amansuri Lake which you have to cross to arrive at the small elevated village.

The slowly declining population is now at roughly 400 though it seems much less when you visit in the middle of the day since most inhabitants have gone out to work, leaving only the kids and a few women behind.

Surprisingly, the villagers are predominantly farmers and brewers of the local dry gin and not fishermen as most would think. While the men go farming, often a 3-hour daily trip from the village, the women sell the gin and farm produces in other towns.

The houses and walkways are made out of wood and raffia and separated so that a fire wouldn’t be able to spread (earlier versions of the village had burned down quite rapidly).

Ducks and chicken freely roam around as they would in any other villages.

There’s one main walkway running along the village with about two dozen houses on either side.

Two small guest houses can host you if you wish to spend the night and there are a few informal drinking and eating spots.

A restaurant is under construction which clearly demonstrates the importance of tourism in the village economy.

Life here is after all quite similar to what you would see in other villages – women pounding fufu, doing laundry, sewing, etc. except that it all happens over water.

There’s even a church and a primary school and children have their boats to commute to other villages or towns to access Junior High later on. Only thing missing is a healthcare facility which they’ve been asking for. In the meantime they must make the trip out to the nearest town to receive any kind of medical care.

The ride back
Canoe Ride 3

Once off the canoe you find yourself in the seaside village of Beyin where, along with an attractive sandy beach, you can visit Fort Apollonia, the last fort to be founded by the British along the Gold Coast (year 1770).

Driving east, you’ll first go through Ghana’s big gas project and witness tons of cranes and pipelines being built by Chinese before finally reaching the coast, its rainforests and fishing villages.

A great place to settle down for the night on the coast is at Lou Moon Lodge near the town of Axim, definitely one of the best private beaches in the area with its own tranquil bay.

The resort, upscale by African standards, is the best I’ve seen in Ghana and closer to the comfort you’d find in more developed destinations (I could have pictured myself in the posh Caribbeans).

The beautiful and modern buildings have managed to exude an air of luxury and offering all the modern-day comforts while still using natural materials. Our large Bay View room was the most comfortable I’ve had in months.

The view from the room and the wraparound balcony was simply gorgeous.

The large loft-like bar & restaurant offers a daily-changing menu of French fusion dishes and hands down the best ‘non-street’ food I’ve had in Ghana.

Being on the coast, the fish and seafood was the star and never disappointed.

Barracuda in a rich, sweet-chili sauce

Lobster curry (to die for)

Lobster Thermidor

It’s clearly aΒ  place to just sit back and relax and sometimes it’s nice to do just that. The food and the setting are so spectacular you’ll have a hard time leaving the premises and with two beaches to chose from (tranquil bay on the left, wavy and rocky beach on the right) why would you?

If you want to make it even more spectacular, note that the lodge also has a private island (well more of an isthmus during the dry season) with two luxury chalets to rent out, both with glass walls so you wake up looking at the ocean…pas mal!

And of course the sunsets…

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  • Matthew @ March 4, 2014 at 10:57 am

    Hey Sandra, this place sounds really interesting and venture worthy. There’s a place like this in Benin called Ganvie, dubbed the Venice of Africa. Really nice place too.
    You make really great photos. Any tips for a novice?

    • Sandra March 4, 2014 at 11:07 am

      Hi Matt,

      I’ve actually been to Ganvie in Benin and wrote a post about it too While Nzulezo was interesting and worth the stop, Ganvie made it seem infinitesimally small! Photo tips…having a great lens helps (I had mostly my 18-300 Nikkor on me) and knowing how to play with the light too. Dusk is by far my favourite time of day to shoot. Good luck with your travels!

  • Isa March 15, 2016 at 10:13 am

    Very nice too!
    I like it!
    I’ve been there too, it is so typic and unbelievable that they live there!