Something a little different and out the ordinary, is to take a trip on a houseboat. I know of at least two places in South Africa where you can hire your own private boat and sleep on it for as long as you like, this includes the Breede River and Knysna. Anyone can do it, though there are quite a few rules and might seem overwhelming at first, but it’s really relatively simple. If you’re over 21 you should have no problems to be off on an adventure.
The boat hire is an easy process considering you get your own boat for the stay, you have to do a crash skippers course before using any boat on the water, which can be done in a matter of hours. There are also regional rules to be aware of, for example Breede has regulations when it comes to fishing, permits are required whereas knysna has a lot more freedom in this area.
The houseboats themselves are quite an experience. They have all the basics you need, hot water, cooking stove and surprisingly comfortable beds. I have been in a party of 6 on the boats before which may seem crowded but was still surprisingly roomy considering it’s a houseboat. I would recommend 4 people at the most though for a comfortable amount.
There are plenty of birds for the twitches out there and great fishing opportunities all day and night while spending plenty of time with friends and family. However always be sure you know what the tides are doing as these areas tend to have many bridges and sandbanks that can cause quite a disruption when moving from one place to the next. There are normally several places where you can moor your boat to explore places nearby.
One year we decided to go as a family, we had fantastic days fishing, from pumping prawns out of the mud to catching all sorts, like octopus, giant crab and of course some fish. We found we were catching the biggest and most uncatchable fish of all, mother earth. We thought about this for a while and noticed the lights in the distance had moved and soon realised it was obviously not the land moving but our anchor that had come loose! There we were drifting along the lagoon with no idea how long or how far we have travelled while trying to find a safe place to be in the middle of the night. It was rather scary when it happened, but good fun to reminisce about.
There is no feeling that can compare to having a tired and fun packed day on the river, while being able to have a good night’s sleep in a boat gently swaying with the moving water. An added bonus is depending where you decide to drop anchor and spend the night you will have no annoying cars or dogs barking but rather tranquil noises of the surrounding nature, unless an annoying bird appears at 4am.
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