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SEE: The best South African houseboat experiences

Five houseboat destinations that offer scenic views, out-of-this-world cabins and unique dining experiences

By Clinton Moodley | September 1, 2021 | Travel Leisure

As travellers scramble to find experiences that put them in a safe bubble during pandemic travel, houseboats tick all the right boxes. From scenic views, out-of-this-world cabins and sumptuous dining experiences, houseboats provide the respite many crave.

South Africa is home to a few houseboat experiences set in some of the country’s most alluring landscapes. Here are a few options:

Kraalbaai Luxury House Boats, Western Cape

Located within the West Coast National Park, just an hour away from Cape Town, Kraalbaai Luxury House Boats allows guests to take in the picturesque lagoon views while “living on the water”.

There are four houseboats to choose from, all offering something unique for guests. Eve Houseboat is ideal for guests who want luxury and relaxation. The name, Eve, stems from the oldest modern human footprint found in Kraalbaai called “Eve’s Footprint” that dates back 117 000 years. Boasting modern design and furnishings, guests can savour some of the most incredible sunrises and sunsets.

The boat features two bedrooms, a lounge with two double sleeper couches, a fully equipped kitchen and bathroom, a patio and braai facilities. Rates start from R3 100 a night for up to eight guests. The other option is The Serenity Houseboat that sleeps six guests. The two-bedroom accommodation is ideal for small groups and comes kitted with a spacious lounge, fully equipped open plan kitchen, bathroom, and deck with braai facilities and seating.

The unit runs on solar electricity. Rates start at R2 500 a night. For an additional fee, guests staying on the houseboats can enjoy a range of activities like kayaking, fishing, massages on the houseboats, skiing and bicycle rides within the national park. Visit www.kraalbaailuxuryhouseboats. com/.

Shayamanzi Houseboats, KwaZulu-Natal

Set on the majestic Lake Jozini, guests can set sail on one of two houseboats, Shayamanzi l and the Shayamanzi II, that combine relaxation, game viewing and tiger fishing to its itineraries. The luxury houseboats offer a unique trip where magical sunsets, animal sightings and adventure reign supreme. That coupled with delicious dining and tastefully decorated spaces make it the perfect retreat. On board facilities include a jacuzzi, wet bar, wi-fi and entertainment system in the main area. The oak-panelled cabins come kitted with twin or queen-size beds, shower, basin and toilet. They have plug points, hairdryers and fans.

To get there, it is an almost four-hour drive from Durban and six hours from Johannesburg. Rates start from R2 360 per person a night. Visit

Karoo Queen, Free State

Guests will have to wait until the end of October to sail on the Karoo Queen, but the luxury houseboat is worth the wait. Set on the Gariep Dam, the state of the art houseboat will offer guests “the ultimate Karoo experience”. It is also close to the border of Northern Cape or Eastern Cape.

There are seven rooms with twin or double beds, an open wardrobe, a dressing table, and luxury linen. Guests can expect incredible sunrise and sunset scenes, extraordinary starry nights, tantalising Karoo cuisine and 360º views. When travellers are not putting their feet up with a cocktail and good book, the tender boats will be available for activities such as fishing, birdwatching and water skiing, among others.

Rates start at R2 500 per person a night and are inclusive of all meals and select activities. Visit

Old Willow No. 7 houseboat charters, Free State

Located on the Vaal River, Old Willow No. 7 houseboat charters are self-drive houseboats that sleep five guests. The “caravan on wheels” offers basic accommodation with a kitchen, small outdoor braai, dining area, shower and portable toilet.

There are nine houseboats to choose from, and activities can be arranged for an additional fee. To qualify, the driver of the houseboat will need a valid driving licence for the Interim Certificate of Compliance (temporary skipper licence). Guests can fish or spend the afternoon at one of four restaurants located near the river. Rates start from R1 395 for two guests a night.

Houseboat Myrtle, Garden Route

Anchored in the Knysna Lagoon, Houseboat Myrtle is a stunning cottage on the water. The wood finish vessel has two decks that show off grand views of the lagoon, the quays and the Knysna Heads.

The houseboat sleeps four guests on two double beds, and the private main bedroom has its own deck. Other features include a small kitchen nook with a stove and fridge, shower and toilet and lounge area. Activities, including stand-up paddle boarding, can be arranged at an additional cost. Rates start from R1 150 for two guests a night. Additional guests pay R350. Visit